Monday, February 16, 2004

1602 #7 - A Review

Written by: Neil Gaiman
Penciled by: Andy Kubert
Inked by: Andy Kubert
Colored by: Richard Isanove (Digital Painting)
Lettered by: Todd Klein
Editors: Joe Quesda & Nick Lowe
Publisher: Marvel Comics

If you haven’t begun reading this book by now, I doubt anything I can say at this point will get you to do so. Indeed, I think the only people who will read this missive are those who have enjoyed 1602 as much as I have and share my sorrow that the penultimate chapter is here.

That said, while this is not the best thing Neil Gaiman has ever written (and there is something of a debate as to what the best thing he HAS written is- my vote goes to “Legend of the Green Flame” just to be difficult), this is certainly one of the best mini-series published in recent memory and it could easily stand alongside such works as “Watchmen” and “Dark Knight Returns” in the future.

Gaiman’s knowledge and love of the classic Marvel characters is apparent in this volume, as we see things start to come together for a final confrontation of sorts as various ships are dispatched to the new world. On one, we have the Brotherhood of Witchbreed, lead by the now disposed Grand Inquisitor of Spain. On another, we have the Four of the Fantastic, Sir Nicholas Fury and the remnants of Carlos Javier’s School for Young Gentlemen. (And yes… in this issue, an X-Man will die!)

A third ship carries Dr. Strange’s wife, Rohjas the Indian (aka Captain Native America) and young mutant Virgina Dare. Yet another ship has been dispatched by the newly crowned King James, containing retired spy Peter Parquah, King’s Man “Banner” and a horde of troops loyal to James intent on capturing the traitor Sir Nicholas Fury.

There are a lot of good moments here that I shall not spoil so as to save them for you to read. Still, I must pay complement on one moment that I shall be vague upon; the manner in which Dr. Strange circumvents the orders from The Watcher that he may not speak or act upon the knowledge given him for as long as he may live. It is ingeniously literal and the type of clever “It’s so obvious and yet I didn’t see it coming” twist that Gaiman makes great play of.

Any artistic team who works with Gaiman draws the risk of playing second fiddle to the story. Thankfully, Gaiman is usually paired up with artists who can meet the challenge and Kubert is every bit his equal as a Master of his craft. The pencils are clear and visible underneath the digital inks and paints used to decorate and enhance Kubert’s work. Richard Isanove is also a credit to his profession here. And Todd Klein, whom has worked with Neil ever since “The Sandman”, shows why he is a regular nominee (and as I recall, most of the time a winner) of every lettering award in the industry.

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