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  Bookends: Dan Davidson

Marvel 1602

Reviewed: October 11, 2006
By: Neil Gaiman / illustrations by Andy Kubert
Publisher: Marvel Comics
248 pages, $22.19

In Marvel 1602 creators Neil Gaiman and Andy Kubert take us to the last year of the reign of Queen Elizabeth where something seems to have gone wrong with the flow of time. Itís 360 years before Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko will kick-start the Marvel Age of Comics by creating the Fantastic Four, Dr. Strange, Spider-man, Daredevil, Captain America and the X-men, but the universe of Marvel 1602 seems to be jumping the gun.

Nicolas Fury is chief spy and advisor to the Queen, while Carlos Javier has a special school for a band of mutated humans people call the witchbreed. One of Furyís best agents is a blind musician and acrobat named Murdoch, while he also has a young aid named Peter Parquah who is fascinated with spiders.

Queen Bessís other highly placed advisor is a doctor and magician named Stephen Strange, who is receiving ominous visions concerning trouble on a cosmic scale. The universe is out of whack and he doesnít know why.

Some mysterious event has caused people with super abilities to develop over three centuries before they should have. Some force has ripped through time and pulled the marvels with it, embedding them in the 17th century before they should have existed. The resulting chronal backlash may just destroy more than England.

Gaiman is better known now for writing fantasy novels, but his first fame came with comics, and this eight issue series marked his first foray into the form since he wrapped up his 75 issue run on the award winning Sandman series a decade earlier. Working with top artist Andy Kubert, whose fine drawings are enhanced by the digital painting of Richard Isanove, Gaiman has retrofitted the Elizabethan age with super adventure and cooked up a tale worthy of the cast of characters he has altered to fit the era.

This was a delightful flight of fancy.

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