The Barbarian Book Club’s Book of The Month (June): Marvel 1602 – Neil Gaiman

The year is 1602, and for some reason, Marvel superheroes appear 400 years early. Written by Neil Gaiman and penciled by Andy Kubert, Marvel 1602 is a unique comic book story. It combined classic Marvel action with the historically accurate setting of the 17th century.

Published in 2003 by Marvel Comics, Marvel 1602 is a limited series 8 issue comic book. The story took place in the Elizabethan era. It featured Steve Rogers as a blonde, blue-eyed native American along with many other heroes. It also casts some familiar villains with the likes of Dr. Doom and Magento.

It is fun and refreshing much like the “What if?” series. It is a well-written story as expected from Gaiman with exciting plot twists and great dialogue. It has good character development, especially for Nick Fury. Who started out as someone loyal to the crown but later on commits treason for the sake of the universe. 

Kubert’s illustrations captured the aesthetic of the era that brought the story into life. Seeing Captain America as a native American and Thor in a traditional Viking aesthetic is outstanding. Another thing, the distinctive scratchboard covers of Scott McKowen are more than noteworthy.

It did a great job of incorporating the 17th century with the classic comic book icons we all knew and loved. It has an intriguing plot and characters that are we are all familiar with, yet subtly different from what we knew.  It is a winner of the 2005 Quill Award for Graphic Novels and spawned 3 other sequels. It was the first-ever graphic novel I have ever bought and the one that started my collection. It is a great book to start from if you are looking for something different from usual Marvel stories. And another thing, did I mention it has tiny dinosaurs?

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