Marvel 1602 - Neil Gaiman, Richard Ianove, Andy Kubert in elizabeth england - and across the world - mysterious and sinister events are taking place that threaten existence itself. a varied cast of heroes and villains seek to understand and perhaps even control this threat. of course, the heroes and villains in question are a gallery of classic Marvel characters, including Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, the Incredible Hulk, Captain America, Doctor Doom, and Nick Fury.

Neil Gaiman is known for his striking reinventions of classic and even mythic characters; in Marvel 1602 he turns his eye to the Marvel canon, with mixed results. the language and the plotting are quite accomplished, with all of the verve and polish and depth one comes to expect from a writer of Gaiman's calibre. the plot is rather marvelous - complicated and dense, yet with a clear internal logic and a genuinely thrilling ending. and there is a real kick in seeing characters like Nick Fury and Doctor Strange reconfigured as, respectively, Queen Elizabeth's Spymaster and Royal Physician.

the only issue i have - and it is a major one - is that by using Marvel characters, Gaiman is using characters with their own internal logic. these are characters who resonate on many levels, and unfortunately their use in this story is sometimes painfully at odds with established characterization that has been literally decades in the making.

Magneto is a good example of this often irritating disconnect. this character is an olympian figure, capable of much harm but with an overriding need to protect the mutant race. in this version, he still retains some of those traits, but they also come and go as Gaiman sees fit. watching Magneto plot to burn alive one of his fellow mutants was really too much to swallow.

overall the art was quite lovely. especially the beautiful scratchboard covers.