Comic Books

Marvel Comics ‘1602’—An Aldie for a New Generation

I’ll admit this out in the open: I did not really read Marvel Comics. That’s right. Little ol’ me was never really into comic book superheroes in general. I’ve always liked watching them, sure, (The Avengers? Awesome!) but reading about them? Not so much. I will say that in my older and wiser age, I have come to appreciate comics and their larger-than-life screen characters.

My conversion happened, as probably with most people that are new Marvel fans, when the first Iron Man movie came out back in 2008. By continuously going to Marvel movie after movie and getting tired of asking my husband questions about all of the characters (he’s a comic book fiend), my curiosity drove me to where I am today. (I’m getting to the point to all this back story soon, I promise!)

After watching Captain America: The Winter Soldier, my favorite Marvel movie to date (and the awesome Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D. tie-in), I wanted to start becoming familiar with the characters on a whole different level. That meant getting into the comics.

I recently subscribed to an app on the iPad called comiXology. I’m usually one who prefers to hold any type of publication in my hand, but I’ve become a bit of a convert, mainly because I can bring them anywhere with me and they’re in full HD. It actually makes a huge difference — it brings the pages to life.

comiXology was offering a sale on all Marvel comics and this one in particular caught my eye, mainly because the cover art was really intriguing. Oh, and it’s also written by Neil Gaiman. It was a no-brainer that I was destined to read Marvel Comics 1602.

I downloaded the whole eight-part series where Marvel characters have been transplanted to the Elizabethan Era and are faced with the destruction of their world by a mysterious force. They all come together and realize that they need to figure out how to save their universe. My favorite part of the comic series is how some of the characters are named. The best is Charles Xavier who is known in the comic as Carlos Javier.

It’s a very dense read. It took me a bit to get into and get all the way through. But once I was in, I was IN. I think that’s the magic that Neil Gaiman as a writer brings. For me, he turned a time period that I already found intriguing into something more. It’s interesting to see how the characters behave in that century and what that challenge brings.

What’s crazy is that this comic came out about 11 years ago and was slammed by critics. I think at the time, people were expecting a lot more out of Neil Gaiman. Though he’s a household name today, 11 years ago, he was beyond deity status. I think this comic was maybe too ahead of its time. With the resurgence of Marvel’s popularity and a new audience, this series would probably have done better if it was released now. Marvel’s expanded fanbase, I believe, would be able to appreciate this for what it is. Maybe die-hard Marvel people would still have a problem with it, but us newbs can just enjoy seeing the characters that we’ve grown with over the past few years evolve in a different way.

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