Tag Archives: Fantastic Four

Mini-Reviews: Marvel 1602 Sequels

I reviewed the original miniseries on here several months ago (see that here). These are the sequel miniseries, which I reviewed separately on Goodreads but thought I would post here as well. The obvious lack of Neil Gaiman proves to be their undoing, unfortunately…..perhaps it is unfair—though perfectly natural—to compare these to his stellar foundation to the 1602 universe, but I can’t help it. Nevertheless, I found them worth the read.

Writer: Greg Pak
Illustrator: Greg Tocchini
Rating: ***
Publisher/Copyright: Marvel Comics, 2006

The saga began by Neil Gaiman in his stellar book 1602 continues! Except that he’s no longer writing it….He did serve as “creative consultant” for this book though, so I can only assume that’s why it was just “meh” as opposed to being a total suckfest.

Okay, so when 1602 left off Steve Rogers was returned to the future along with Sir Nicholas Fury, the Witchbreed left on a quest of their own as did the Fantastick Four, David Banner was hit with all the gamma energy of the closing space/time rift, as was a spider that bit young Peter Parquah. The colony of Roanoke declared its independence from Britain, and that was that. Now King James wants to know why Banner isn’t back with Fury’s head, so he sends Captain Ross and Antonio Stark, Lord Iron to the New World to reclaim him. In other news, Norman Osborne is stirring up trouble with the natives for the colony in a bid to find the source of all the strangeness that has plagued the New World recently, hoping to exploit it to his own ends….

The resulting battle feels like it should be epic, but doesn’t quite make it. If you were left unsatisfied at the end of 1602, you probably would do well to read this and get a little more closure at least. But be forewarned, it has nowhere near the awesomeness of Gaiman’s original.

Writer: Peter David
Illustrator: Pascal Alixe
Rating: ***
Publisher/Copyright: Marvel Comics, 2007

The phenomenal 1602 saga Neil Gaiman created continues! It just doesn’t have Neil Gaiman attached to it anymore. In any capacity. The result isn’t terrible, its just not terribly good…..

At the end of 1602 the Fantastick Four quietly exited stage right. Apparently King James was uncharacteristically (at least for this fictional version) merciful, allowing them to go their separate ways and go adventuring no more on pain of execution for being Witchbreed. When last seen, Otto “The Handsome” Von Doom had been horrifically scarred in the FF’s escape from his Latverian fortress. But now travellers’ tales begin to spread of a city beyond the edge of the world whose science is far advanced beyond the abilities of those in the outside world….Atlantis! When Doom kidnaps William Shakespeare to chronicle his quest and sets out for Atlantis with the intent of seizing this power himself, the King forces Reed Richards and his fantastick crew to follow on pain of death. But Atlantis will prove more than a match for any who would seize it by force, as even Doom has not counted on Prince Numenor….

Again, I wanted to like this a lot. Instead, I liked it a little. But then, perhaps it is unfair to compare it to Gaiman’s foundational work in this universe….although I would argue it’s perfectly natural. At any rate, this miniseries offers little closure and while there is one more focused on Peter Parquah, I don’t see their paths crossing. So for that, I would like to see at least one more to wrap up some of the plot threads left hanging here. If you enjoyed the original, this is worth your time. If you haven’t read the original, go do it NOW and then come back. But if you disliked the original miniseries, I doubt you’ll find much here to engage you.

Title: SPIDER-MAN: 1602
Writer: Jeff Parker,
Illustrator: Ramon Rosanas
Rating: *****
Publisher/Copyright: Marvel Comics, 2010

And so we come to the end (at least for now) of the Marvel 1602 saga. And this time, I feel the product we are given at least comes close to matching Neil Gaiman’s excellent foundation for this world.

Despite the title of the book, it is actually several years after the events in 1602–I have the impression the year was 1608, but I can’t put my finger on why. This miniseries picks up the story threads laid down at the end of 1602: New World, with Peter Parquah still in the colony at Roanoke, now a young man and very much in love with the daughter of the governor, Virginia Dare. Norman Osborn has been on his best behavior since the events of 1602:NW and has managed to insinuate himself into the position of Harbor Master, but Peter and Virginia don’t believe he has reformed. When their suspicions are proved correct with tragic consequences, Peter is sent to escort Norman as a prisoner to England where he will answer for his crimes. Meanwhile, back in the Old World, Baron Octavius has imprisoned both Henri Le Pym and Henry McCoy, forcing them to work in his laboratory. They were able to save him from the plague, but the side effects of the treatment were…unexpected. Now he wants them to find a way to restore his humanity. Throw in the pirate King’s Pin and his sidekick Bull’s Eye, the result of Curtis Connors’ own experiments, the travelling Watsonnes’ entertainment troupe and you have this delightful close to the Marvel 1602 saga.

There are still a few loose ends hanging in the wind–mostly ones left by the previous Fantastick Four miniseries, which doesn’t get touched by this entry in the series–but on the whole this offered a good close. Nothing says they CAN’T follow this up, but I get the impression the series is not making them money or garnering critical acclaim anymore, so I kinda doubt it will happen.

Content-wise this is pretty PG across the board. A little language, nothing you won’t hear on primetime TV. An occasional innuendo or unclothed character obscured by shadows or foreground objects. Some violence, a little blood, but nothing too horrific. Pretty standard comic book fare, on the whole.

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Review: “Marvel 1602” by Neil Gaiman and Andy Kubert

Title: Marvel 1602
Writer: Neil Gaiman
Pencils: Andy Kubert
Colorist: Richard Isanove
Series: Marvel 1602 Vol. I
Rating: *****
Publisher/Copyright: Marvel Comics, 2005

All is not well in the Marvel Universe in this stellar graphic novel from Neil Gaiman and Andy Kubert. Strange weather haunts the earth, and the people whisper rumors of the end of the world. Queen Elizabeth is nearing the end of her reign, while James of Scotland waits impatiently in the wings to take her throne and Doom The Handsome of Latveria dreams of world conquest, his dungeons holding four very interesting explorers hostage for his own purposes. Sir Nicholas Fury, the Queen’s spymaster, has his hands full foiling enemy plots. His page, the young Peter Parquah, has his hands full running errands for Fury. Stephen Strange, the Queen’s physician, grows increasingly concerned about the strange phenomena that increase every day. Virginia Dare and her bodyguard Rojhaz, a burly blonde Native American, are freshly arrived from the New World seeking royal aid for the colony of Roanoke. In Europe Fury’s agents, blind Irish minstrel Matthew Murdoch and femme fatale Natasha Romanova seek to safeguard a powerful weapon on its way from Jerusalem to London for safekeeping. In Spain the Inquisition rages on, seeking and burning any Witchbreed it can find, these foul creatures being born into a new age with strange physical deformities or other odd and unnatural abilities–wings of an angel, the speed to run across continents in moments, the ability to read mens’ minds or even master steel. The only safe haven for such as these is the school of Carlos Javier, but if James takes the throne even that port will be denied them.

Neil Gaiman is one of those writers that comes along every so often, where you read one of their works then visit Wikipedia to get a list of everything they have ever written. I had read this before, way back when it first came out, but reading it again was still a wonderful experience. Gaiman takes all of these characters that we know so well and sets them in an entirely different world, one that is truly fascinating. Some comic book fans may be dissatisfied with this, as it doesn’t really provide the sweeping action sequences Marvel is known for and does so well, but the story and character work more than make up for this. If I have any complaint with this book it is that certain characters get so little done with them as we know them–Peter Parquah gets bit by a spider on the very last page, and Banner’s transformation is left for the epilogue as well. Gaiman is here creating a whole new Marvel Universe (technically this all starts in the 616, but that gets complicated) and not a self-contained story. That would be great, if he had continued to write the sequels, but he left that to others. I haven’t read them yet, but I can’t imagine they match Neil Gaiman’s storytelling…..

UPDATE: I read the sequels. Not as good across the board, but worth the read if you got engrossed by this. I really liked the closer to the series, Spider-Man 1602. Anyway, read the reviews for those here.

There’s not much to say, content-wise. There’s some violence, not too gruesome aside from a subplot featuring a character’s severed head. It’s been preserved in brandy and certainly doesn’t look pleasant, but this isn’t an R-rated comic so its not too bad. There’s a little mild language, again, nothing major. Brief suggestion of sex, but again nothing even remotely explicit. However, this is Neil Gaiman. His writing is nuanced and subtle, and a younger reader may not fully understand all that is happening–I know I didn’t when I first read it.

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