Friday, July 05, 2013
Books in 2013: #12 Marvel 1602 by Neil Gaiman
Marvel 1602 by Neil Gaiman with various artists. This was another pick by the graphic novel book club I'm in (if you're interested in checking out this club, by the way, it's put on every second Saturday in the basement of a very cool London, Ontario, downtown comic book store called L.A. Mood, from 11am-noon. You can find the complete schedule of books we'll be reading this year here).
I was a little daunted by this selection, but excited to try it out. Basically, Neil Gaiman has taken many of the Marvel heroes we know (mostly from the 1960s) — Spider-Man, Captain America, the Fantastic Four, Nick Fury, some X-Men, and more — and transported them to 1602, imagining what would have happened if they'd shown up 400 years ago instead of in the 20th century. They've been altered so fans will pick up on certain things and figure out who they are, and marvel (pun intended) at how Gaiman has given them just enough to make them recognizable to us, but made them work in Elizabethan England, switching between the courts of Elizabeth I and James VI of Scotland, the Tower of London, and other famous spots of the era.
While Gaiman plays a little loose with actual history, he's really nailed the era as a whole, and even without the Marvel aspect this would have been a great story. But when you throw in the characters — with the great question of, 'how were they born 400 years early?' (a question that is, indeed, answered) — it's even more exciting. And what I loved most about this book is I got it!! I knew the characters, I recognized most of the villains, I knew how he'd changed things from the Marvel origin stories, and I'd figured out most of it. So there was a sense of accomplishment, and realizing that when my 5-year-old son got this poster when he was 3...
...and then asked Mommy to identify them, and I had to jump online and try to help him figure them out, that I was actually doing valuable research that would help me later. ;)
If you like Neil Gaiman (yes I do!) and you want to try a superhero graphic novel that's out of the ordinary, this is a great one to check out.