Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Review: Marvel 1602 by Neil Gaiman

Found via: Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults Twists on the Tale nominees

I've never been able to get into reading comics, but I have to admit I have a weakness for superhero movies. I've also never managed to read another Gaiman work (I'm sorry, I tried to read The Graveyard Book after it won the Newbery, I really did, and I just couldn't manage it. I feel like a book nerd failure).

But this particular Gaiman/comic book seemed like something I could get into. For one thing, it wasn't just a single comic - this is the 8 comic series bound into a full graphic novel (I am sure part of my comic resistance is the serial nature of the story - I hardly even watch TV shows now as they come on the air, I just wait for the DVD release, or at least until a bunch of the season is up online). I could also get it from the library, which I can't with regular comic books. Plus it just sounded kind of interesting - Renaissance era super heroes? Sure, why not?!

I enjoyed reading this - though I have to admit I'd be hard pressed to describe parts of the plot to you. I also had a hard time identifying who a lot of the characters were; sure Peter Parquagh, the kid who is always stumbling across potentially lethal spiders is Peter Parker, our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, but I couldn't figure out for the life of me who the Natasha character was until I read the Marvel 1602 characters Wikipedia page (there really is a Wikipedia page for everything). So there are definitely parts that will be much more rewarding for a true Marvel fan, but not so many that a non-fan can't enjoy the book. Non-fans just really need to accept that they won't be able to find the corresponding modern Marvel character and continue on with the story.

So yes, I got lost several times. And this hasn't made me a convert to the wonders of graphic novels/comic books. And I didn't know who on earth half of the characters were supposed to be. But for the characters that I did know, watching them in the context of 1602 was fun. What more can you ask from a comic book?
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