One of the most hyped miniseries of the year is off to a decent, but not
Title: 1602 #1
Author: Neil Gaiman
Illustrator(s): Andy Kubert (pencils) and Richard Isanove (inks)
Original Publication Date: August 13, 2003
Cover Price: $3.50 US, $5.75 Can
It’s the year 1602, and the world is populated with familiar
characters. Neil Gaiman insists this eight issue series will not be
an Elseworlds story, although it will look like one at first. Mutants
seem to be labelled as Witchbreed, and have become the new targets
the Inquisition. In the meantime, powerful and unnatural storms are
brewing, and a very powerful object is en route to the Queen’s
physician, Dr. Stephen Strange.
If a character isn’t old or scarred, they don’t seem to have any
facial features. As a result, half of the cast looks rather boring.
I have to admit, this is a concept that seems pretty
original. There have been other Elseworlds stories like
this, but they haven’t been in continuity before. I’m interested in
seeing where this goes, and how it connects up with the Marvel
Universe we know. I give it 4 out of 6, since the story itself
doesn’t seem like anything new.
The artwork is Andy Kubert. What better way to describe it
is there? Old people and locations look wonderful, but the rest of
the cast (with the exception of the bard) looks pretty drab. I give
it 4 out of 6.
The story is interesting, but not outstanding. It’s the
“protect the powerful object” story with multiple factions thrown in
for fun, as far as we can tell from this issue. (There are seven more
issues coming that might change this, though.) I give it 4 out of 6.
The characterization is not bad. We get some clear but
dimensional looks at the members of a rather large cast, and that’s
about it. Nobody gets enough time at the forefront to show any real
depth this month. I give it 4 out of 6.
The emotional response this produced was mostly from
games of “spot the character we know.” The story itself holds mild
interest, but most of that is faith in the writer. I give it 3 out of
The flow was a bit choppy, given all the jumping between
currently unrelated scenes. The destruction of the wall was also
poorly represented, in my opinion. I give it 3 out of 6.
Overall, it’s good enough to keep me buying the series, but
it doesn’t awe or amaze me. I give it 4 out of 6.
In total, 1602 #1 receives 27 out of 42.
Additional Notes and Comments
My backlog of other comic reviews from my week of illness also
includes Batman Archives: Vol. 1, Essential Human
Vol. 1, JLA: Heaven’s Ladder, JLA: Age of
Part 1 (of 2), the excellent Sojourn Vol. 1: From The
Ashes, and Ultimate X-Men #36. Tomorrow,
Spider-Man #45 will be added to the list. The Ultimate titles
will be reviewed first, as they are the most recent stuff. Do you
readers have any preference about the other reviews?
I actually didn’t even know this title existed until i started reading Gaiman’s blog about a week ago. he mentioned that people are writing him to complain that they’re already sold out. I called around – most places here are. but I found one
place that still has 100-150 or so. went out and picked one up – thus being the first single-issue comic I’ve purchased in almost 10 years. I wasn’t as sucked in as I have been by nearly EVERYTHING else the man has written – but given that he *is* working within continuity and he’s still trying to introduce characters we’re familiar with while giving them time-appropriate stories, it’s off to a good start. I’m definitely on board for the next issue. Probably all eight.
for those of you who are interested, someone’s “annotating” the comic.
from gaiman’s blog:
I thought this was interesting – and telling, as far as where this is actually going to “pick up” as a story. If the man who WROTE it doesn’t think it’s a good read until the third issue, I would imagine that we’re not going to be impressed until then either.
“Part 3 of 1602 arrived today, all lettered for me to proofread. It’s the first one I’ve enjoyed reading so far — the plot’s started, and we’ve met all the characters, and I’m comfortable with Andy and he with me, so the whole thing’s a lot less stiff than the first two. Of course, that’s almost eight weeks into everyone else’s future.”