19 December 2007

Inventive recontextualization of classic Marvel heroes and villains

Marvel 1602 Volume 1

Neil Gaiman
Marvel Comics, 2004

I rarely keep up with comic books and graphic novels these days, so I know very little of Gaiman's work with the Sandman series. That said, I think this reinvention of some classic Marvel heroes is strong on creativity and short on a coherent storyline. In this collected series of 8 comic books, Gaiman tells of an Elizabethan England that is threatened both by Count Otto Von Doom's Latveria and by the religiously motivated machinations of James of Scotland, heir to the throne. Familiar characters like Dr. Strange, the Fantastic Four, and Thor show up in altogether unfamiliar places and contexts. Many of the details are thoroughly enjoyable (e.g., Gaiman touches on the spiritual consequences for the Christian who turns into the Norse god Thor), but there are an equal number of plot threads and loose ends that go nowhere.

(This review was originally written on July 9, 2006.)

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