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Marvel 1602: The New World (Review/Retrospective)

This March, to celebrate the release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, we’ll be taking a look at some classic and not-so-classic Avengers comic books. Check back daily for the latest updates!

One of the more frustrating things about the major comic book producers is the general reluctance to let any potential franchise or brand die with dignity. Marvel Zombies was an amusing gag, but the company ran it into the ground fairly quickly – although they did work to keep Robert Kirkham and Sean Phillips around for at least one of the sequels. Marvel Apes went from a vaguely witty cover gag into a spin-off universe of its own. Those two side projects eventually (and inevitably) overlapped.

Neil Gaiman’s Marvel 1602 was a curiosity. It was a rather simple gimmick, transposing the modern-day Marvel Universe to the seventeenth century. It afforded Gaiman to make some of his typical meta-commentary and was an excuse to play around with novel twists on classic characters. The Marvel Universe is big enough and vast enough that even a rather basic concept like that can be maintained across eight issues.

A smashing time...

A smashing time…

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Marvel 1602 (Review)

After spending the tail end of last year looking at the tangled inter-continuity crossovers at Marvel, I thought I’d spend January looking at some of the looser “out of continuity” tales at the major companies.

Although DC invented the term “elseworlds” to describe alternative continuities featuring familiar characters in unfamiliar settings, it was really Marvel who ran with it. Even discounting the Ultimate line, Marvel has produced any number of alternative continuity worlds within the past decade or so – not stories or chapters, but worlds. Tales spin-off in so many different directions that these stories become viable alternative versions of the Marvel Universe, just with a variation upon a theme. Marvel Noir offers us the Marvel Universe as seen through a smokey glass-half-empty lens, with tales of Daredevil, X-Men and Spider-Man changed to fit in this strange new setting. Writer Neil Gaiman, however, crafted an especially interesting alternative to mainstream Marvel with 1602. It pretty much does exactly what it says on the tin, transposing the modern day Marvel Universe to 1602.

Take these broken wings...

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