I’m quite certain (or hoping really hard, depending on how much of a desperate fanboy I want to portray myself as) that quote in the title was Neil Gaiman’s little dig at The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.
Marvel 1602 [amazon link]
Written by Neil Gaiman
Art by Andy Kubert, colours by Richard Isanove
Covers by Scott McKowen
Neil Gaiman (graphic novel series Sandman, novels American Gods, Neverwhere, Good Omens with Terry Pratchett) gives us his first major take on super-heroes and the Marvel Universe, home to fountains of summer movie cash like Spider-man and X-Men. Instead of taking them on in the modern (read as: convoluted to the point of nonsensicality — Gwen Stacy did what with the Green Goblin?! Damn you, J Michael Straczynshoweveryouspellit!) Marvel Universe, the characters are transplanted to the year 1602. Strange weather signals the end of the world, random Marvel characters appear in random places, the Queen is murdered, and general hilarity ensues.
Despite a relatively simple plot (“general hilarity”), Marvel 1602 gave this reader plenty of “holy crap” moments — none of which I should spoil — evoking that elusive yet deeply satisfying comicbook-reading experience in the reader: a sense of wonder. That combination of thrill and amazement when you realise what the writer’s got for you next, making you grin from ear to ear, and/or grasp the book gripped by every panel and every word balloon? Spades of it in the last three chapters, after a slow start.
Gaiman writes in his afterword that he’d intended for the graphic novel to be “something for the summer, to be read under a porch or in a treehouse; or up on a roof; or in a small field, a long time ago, beside the bulrush patch.” Despite being denied such luxuries by this country’s vicious version of urban sprawl (and every day being a nasty summer), I can see what he’s getting at. While unsurprisingly engrossing to this reader who grew up on a steady diet on superhero comicbooks, the book as an overall read was just the right amount of magic that Gaiman deftly applies to his works.
I realise I haven’t mentioned much about the art, so… I’m really not a big fan of Andy Kubert. I hated his work when it was inked by others, and I can vaguely tolerate his straight-to-colouring pencils here (which I assume is the case; nonetheless, Isanove did a stellar job on the colouring). But it works, and I really enjoyed the book, and I can’t say too much after having said all that above.
I also realise this is the second of two graphic novel recommendations I’ve used the word “transplant” in. Hmm.