I used to read comics. A lot of comics. And toward the end of the ’90s, I stopped.
I’ve started picking up some comics here and there–JLA/Avengers, Superman/Batman, various and sundry Hellboy stuff. And I saw Neil Gaiman’s miniseries for Marvel, 1602, picked up the first three issues, read them.
Frankly, I’m left with an “eh” feeling.
Gaiman can do Elizabethan-period fiction well, just look at Sandman. The idea of an Elseworlds series taking the Silver Age Marvel characters and recasting them as actors in the power struggles of the first decade of the seventeenth century holds promise–of course the mutant struggle could be viewed in terms of Catholicism against Protestantism, it’s a natural fit.
I’m waiting for something to happen. The first two issues, and much of the third, have simply been exposition and character introductions. The third issue does have a fairly dramatic cliffhanger, one that, frankly, puts us into serious alternate history land, as James VI’s accension to England’s throne wasn’t guaranteed and Elizabeth’s premature death would throw the carefully laid plans of those around Elizabeth to bring James to the throne into genuine doubt. These events have serious historical ramifications, and if mutants do align themselves on sides of the coming religious conflict, I can only imagine that the Thirty Years’ War will be vastly different in 1602‘s alternate timeline.
My hope is that Gaiman will do something truly amazing with the concluding issues of 1602. My fear is that 1602 will be to Gaiman what Dark Knight Strikes Back was to Frank Miller, a noble effort that falls short. We’ll see.