Today we're going to be talking about 1602, and how it could have sucked less, with spiderine, amand_r, misswinterhill in her debut performance, and Claire.
This one also requires some context, mainly because it's the first time a bunch of us read a comic together instead of just trying to explain it to each other. So here's what you need to know about 1602.
So, Marvel 1602 was basically an alternate universe where a bunch of Marvel characters were plopped down in the late Elizabethan era; it is really most famous for being written by Neil Gaiman. Nick Fury is a spy for the Queen, along with his apprentice Peter Parquaghhackghhahak -- sorry. Peter Parquagh, who is Not Spider-man (Yet). Meanwhile, Professor "Javier" runs a school that is outwardly for training gentlemen and secretly for teaching mutants to be awesome. One of the students at the school, John Grey, is actually Jean Grey in the worst drag king performance I have ever seen. (Many of the other X-Men are there too but Jean in badly-executed drag is the bit you need to be aware of.)
The Queen, at the opening of the story, is about to entertain two visitors from the Roanoke colony: Virginia Dare and her "Indian Manservant" Rojhaz, aka Captain America, the whitest Native American you will ever meet (oh Neil Gaiman, no). Round about the middle of the story, Nick Fury epic fails to save Queen Elizabeth from being assassinated, James of Scotland takes over the throne, and things go rapidly to shit. Everyone ends up in America, because why not?
In the end it turns out Rojhaz, The Whitest Of Native Americans, is actually normal-universe (ahah, "normal") Steve Rogers, who was sent back in time. As an aside, this is kind of interesting because 1602 came out three years before Marvel Civil War but seems to predict it, because in 1602 Steve gives an account of superheroes being persecuted that ends with him being sent back in time, and in Civil War...superheroes are persecuted and he gets sent back in time.
In Steve Rogers' future, time was not kind to Spider-man and Daredevil.
I do not know if this was intentional, but I doubt it.
There are also aliens, and Nick Fury tricks Steve Rogers into walking through a doorway into some ribbony things, which heals some breach or possibly kills him or sets the course of history right, or all three, I'm not really sure.
Also Magneto is a cardinal, the Scarlet Witch is a nun, and Daredevil is a wandering minstrel who apparently can't sing.
Again: I only explain them, I can't excuse them.
Claire: If you keep posting about comics, will you keep posting Fassbender smoking? What if you run out of images? HA HA HA what am I saying
Your emergency back-up can be Meryl Streep smoking.
"And now, while we discuss Spiderman, here's Meryl Streep puffing on a cigarette."
Mandr: What comics are we arguing about next?
Claire: I have 2 boxes of shit from my ex and this got me thinking - HEY ... I am SURE there are graphic novels in there, so I just now pulled out the box and I found treasures!!! MARVEL 1602 ... Oh historical ... fantasy? By Neil Gaiman!
It's Marvel but in Shakespeare. Sir Nicholas Fury is some kind of knight .. and Peter Paraquagh is probably Spiderman!
Sam: I remember being really pissed at 1602 when it came out. I got the first issue and flipped through it and was like WHAT THE SHIT, THIS FUCKING XMEN STORY AGAIN or something. I don't even remember what it was about, just that for some reason I felt ripped off.
Claire: But if you did a Marvel Shakespeare story and didn't put X-Men in it don't you think that would be weird?
Sam: I think it was more that I thought it was going to be that same fucking X-men story they kept retelling throughout the nineties, the Death Of Jean Grey / Phoenix / Whatthefuckever saga. I wasn't intrinsically opposed to the X-men, I was just so tired of getting the same plot over and over. There was something, anyway, that ticked me off.
See now I have to download it to see what pissed me off so much.
Jenny: I own a copy of 1602! We could have a book club! And ask each other pretentious questions! And have tea! That's what book clubs do, right?
"So, what did you think about the effect of the intertextuality and historical appropriation? Would you class 1602 as historiographic metafiction, or simply metafictional?"
Mandr: I will provide the lowbrow commentary. "So, are Jean's boobs big enough here, or do you think they should have been bigger?"
Jenny: Damn, it's been a long time since I read it. I remember it was mostly very dark panels and people swanning around not doing very much, and in-jokes that I didn't get. I guess it was written by Neil Gaiman.
OH NEIL GAIMAN NO:
Claire: For some reason Captain America is called Rojhaz ... LOL Rojhaz ..
Sam: What is our consensus on the blond, blue-eyed Native American Steve Rogers dressed in stereotypical "generic Indian" garb and speaking vague pidgin? Racist?
WHAT THE EVERLOVING BALLS.
Spider: I cannot believe that Gaiman perpetrated this gargantuan shitsplat of fail.
Sam: Oh my god you guys ROJHAZ IS WELSH.
Claire: I think Rojhaz is running one of those tricksy New World cons! He probably is also telling Queen Elizabeth to buy jackalope meat!
Mandr: Or telling her horror stories about the terrifying Welsh Drop Bears.
Sam: He's hiding a robot in the basement of the palace! (Ed Note: Not really. Sorry, that's a dreadful Torchwood joke.)
I'm just gonna put it out there that Rojhaz has some magnificent fucking hair.
Spider: OMG the blond welsh Indian who speaks in the third person. I keep expecting him to grunt or say "how" or whatever.
TIME TO TORMENT FURY:
Sam: lol, Fury carries Xavier around in a princess carry. Oh Marvel, you try so hard not to be homoerotic and fail so badly.
Claire: I don't understand why the Shakespearean times haven't invented wooden wheelchairs if they have wooden carriages. Surely a wheelchair for one is easier to invent than a carriage for four people! It looks like Professor X has to be carried every place with a cozy ye olde blanket upon his ye olde legs!
Sam: I'm pretty sure they also had no Welsh Native Americans. (Ed Note: Though there were some wacky and racist myths about it!)
Claire: Seriously it looks like Professor X really does get carried everywhere by his friends. I thought maybe he was just doing that to be annoying to Fury.
Fury didn't .. save the Queen very ... good. At all.
Sam: Okay yeah that was lolarious. "I'm going to fuck you up without even bothering to arm myself. Now tell me who wants to kill the queen! Oh wait, too late."
Claire: I have a favourite panel. It's the reaction shot of Fury's face when he realises that Angel doesn't know Jean is a woman.
It perfectly captures: "SRSLY? O.o"
Fury is doing all the things in this book. I feel he should have a little nap!
Sam: Poor Peter though. He isn't even Spider-man.
Claire: I really wish there was a Ye Olde J Jonah Jamieson to give him hell. That would be LOL.
Sam: Apparently he comes later.
Mandr: THAT'S WHAT SHE SAID!
I am making random jokes to cover that I haven't done the class reading. It's like I'm back in college.
Claire: This is a really fun comic book. They teased us with spiders on Peter! I love how comically tiny Peter is compared to Captain America. He's wee.
I was just thinking how everyone shits on Peter in this story. He doesn't need a J Jonah Jamieson because peeps be all getting up in his ye olde grille and yelling into his face!
Sam: Everyone shits on Peter in every story, really, poor lad.
Claire: Please nobody criticise all the spider teases with Peter. I LOVED THEM.
Jenny: Is that meant to be Professor X behind the hedge on the cover to Part 2? Because everyone else is in the maze looking serene, worried, or serenely worried, and then there's this half a bald head looking like he's doing something wicked to the trees.
Claire: I am guessing yes that is Professor X ... (Professor J) in the maze because he is so low down, clearly he's sitting.
Instead of walking .... In ye olde wooden pants, as would be my preference, obviously.
Jenny: Munching on the hedge as he goes.
Claire: IT DOES LOOK LIKE HE'S EATING IT HA HA HA
Jenny: Yes, but does it mean that canonically the Professor likes to eat bush?
Sam: This was Gaiman playing the AU game, with mediocre success. More plot, less worldbuilding please.
Claire: I really like it because I'm like: WHO IS THAT? OMG IT'S...THAT DUDE! The dude that I know!!
Mandr: This whole time I have been wracking my brains as to who Virginia Dare is supposed to be. At first I thought she was Storm, but she can't be.
Sam: I don't think she's supposed to be anyone. She's an actual historical figure from the Roanoke colony.
Spider: Yeah, but I don't think she turned into animals and stuff. Or had a big blond stupid stereotype of an Indian bodyguard.
Sam: LOL. She's famous mostly for being the first white child born in north America, at least the first there's a record of. 'Cause Injuns don't count, even Welsh ones.
Mandr: Yeah, I mean I just kept waiting for her to be someone, but she's just Virginia Dare.
Claire: There are weird details. Why does Professor X random feed a lizard on his desk. Or a baby dragon. What is THAT?
Sam: You know someone asked me "where are you in the story" and I was like "Well, nothing has happened yet...and...I'm on...book three..." so I think the artists got bored of Nothing Happening and just started drawing random shit.
Jenny: I have no idea what is happening. I flipped to the end and saw Magneto is apparently the messiah. I know I read this at some point, and I think I was just as confused then as I am now.
Claire: I thought maybe the desk lizard was a pet from the comics or something that we should know, like an injoke. Oh that's "Socks", the X-Men pet lizard, don't you know?
Jenny: I have accepted that I am going to have no idea what is going on in any of this, and I'm just looking at the pictures.
Spider: Not even the artist knows what the fuck is going on. Which makes me feel a hell of a lot better, really.
WOLVERINE CAN'T JOIN THIS TEAM:
Claire: Where is Ye Olde Wolverine?
Sam: Apparently Gaiman left Wolverine out because there were too many Marvel characters to include them all. So, y'know. He left out the most popular one.
Claire: I love me the Wolverine but I readily accept that he might be ... slightly ... over exposed?
WHAT AM I SAYING
Wolverine please continue to expose yourself, thanks.
WHY 1602 MADE SAM ANGRY:
Sam: Huh, this came out in November 2003...somehow I remember it being much earlier, like I was a teenager. I think I really wanted a historical story with NEW SUPERHEROES in history, and instead I got the X-Men, which was why I was annoyed.
Claire: New Superheroes?
Sam: You know. Superheroes who are new. Like, I wanted a story about all new superheroes IN HISTORY. With new superpowers and backstories!
And I didn't know who Strange or Fury were, so I didn't realise it was all Marvel characters from the off. I didn't get that till I hit the X-Men and then I was like oh fuck this noise.
MAGNETO NEEDS NO LOGIC:
Claire: Is Petros supposed to be openly a mutant because, if his power is running really fast, why has the church not noticed that he runs really fast? For instance, he zooms into rooms and delivers information!
Sam: I think the church thinks his gift is "god's" but it's more likely Magneto is protecting him because in canon he's Magneto's son.
Claire: Oh I answered my own question because now they're pissed at him - nevermind LOL. I will let the power of this work of art answer itself .. I am sure there are no loose ends and all will be explained
Oh - did I read this right or did this book just say that Magneto was abducted and raped by priests!? Is this offensive or is this art that pushes boundaries? Let me know because - puzzled.
Sam: I think they implied it, yes. At any rate, if he wasn't raped, everyone thinks he was. I don't think it's offensive necessarily, but again, it's so unnecessary. It's like Gaiman has to come up with a backstory that analogues to canon backstory, and he just has to fucking share it in an Expository Speech.
Claire: I think they must have wanted to find an parallel that would be horrible for Magneto, because he is always motivated by intense & justified anger I suppose.
I understand that Magneto was "playing" the church but why did he let them tie him up and give a speech and then try to burn him? To be dramatic? He could have just killed them all and then skip a chapter to being on this boat on his way to where the aliens are making the mutants go ...
"Go where the winds blow" - that is no way to navigate a ship at all! If I were beta-ing this chapter I'd put a red line and a note (take out this, put in something else, like - porn, or interesting battles).
Sam: NEIL GAIMAN NEEDS YOUR GOOD IDEAS.
Claire: I unfollowed him on twitter Sam. I was sick of him posting shit about his gross girlfriend. No thanks, dude!
Sam: Also, even in 1602, "Javier" and "Enrico" can't help their sexy mutant tension.
Mandr: omg javier and enrico's negotiations.
"I can't agree to your terms if I don't know what they are!"
"Do you need my help?"
"Then my terms are acceptable."
Claire: LOL no matter how ridiculous the situation, Magneto always gives the impression that he's on top of what's happening, even if he's clearly failing.
Nice burn from Professor X earlier: "You're like a lute player that only knows one song"
Oh you just got burned, old timey style, Magneto
POOR DEAD JEAN:
Spider: I'm halfway through issue 5, the point when Cyclops is attacking Angel because Angel is talking to John who is really Jean but Angel doesn't know it and can't figure out why Cyclops is getting so pissy because Cyclops won't just say "keep your hands off my little crossdressing bit of fluff" and instead lets his manly manrage make him act like an absolute douchenozzle even though he doesn't realize it makes him seem gay as a day in June.
Sam: IT IS THAT SAME STUPID X-MEN STORY ABOUT JEAN TURNING INTO PHOENIX, I KNEW IT
DO THEY JUST NOT HAVE ANY OTHER STORIES?
(Ed note: When we get to Avengers vs. X-Men in a month or two, you guys will see that they are currently, right now, in 2012, doing another rendition of the Phoenix story with Jean's granddaughter, Hope. So no, I don't think the X-Men do have any other stories.)
Claire: She died without saving all the people though, she just died :-(
Sam: Well at least that's something new. My god I am so sick of that story.
Claire: She didn't get to have sex with Scotius. Or Angel. Threesome on the boat... She didn't get to have a three-boat-some!
Sam: That is a shame. Threesome would have improved that enormously.
Big head guy
Who is the
It's an alien!!
Spider: OMG there's a Watcher!
Sam: Do I have to actually read all the shit the guy with the giant forehead says? It's really boring and long.
Claire: That's why Captain America got pulled out of modern times and trapped in ye olde hilarious times, it's the aliens that are doing it because... We will find out the "because" later. I think the explanation for the aliens is happening here in this explanation that I'm not understanding!
Sam: Have you ever heard the phrase "a wizard did it" to describe something that's stupid and not understandable?
Spider: That's what Lucy Lawless and the Hercules guy used to tell fans who came up and yattered in their faces about "why did this happen and why didn't that happen and how come it didn't work like it did in the episode the year before?" Answer: "A wizard did it."
Sam: In 1602, an alien did it.
Claire: I like how they're all working together to do .. the magic .. that opens the door to the aliens .. or closes the yellow .. ribbon in the .. sky?
NOT REALLY A WELSH NATIVE AMERICAN:
Claire: Love Cap's cheeky face grin at the end of Chapter 7 btw!!!
He's so cheeky. Oh Cap. I just wanna pinch your little cheeks. By "little" I mean, giant.
Mandr: You mean when he's all, "Got ya! Not an Indian, bitches!"
Claire: HE IS SO CHEEKY FACE -- You see it right? I love him!!! Say you love his face or we can't be friends. His cheeky face!
Sam: OF COURSE I LOVE HIS CHEEKY FACE.
Claire: This sort of thing is why we read comics!
Sam: LOL that Steve's entire arc in this has been to establish "his" America -- you know, the one where they killed off all the native people because the little white girl was all-important...
OH MY GOD
CAP WITH THE FACEPAINT WITH THE A ON IT
OH MY GOD AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH
Spider: Hey! I guess Gaiman isn't such an insensitive racefailing stereotyping writer. It's just that Steve Rogers is an insensitive racefailing stereotyping character!
Sam: Yeah, this does make Steve Rogers look like a big ol racist.
Spider: Especially considering he spent all that time with the native people who fed him and saved him and taught him how to survive. Then he turns around and does the "Heap Big Injun Chief" act.
Sam: The thing is, the only reason he would do that is if the people in this world believe that's how Native Americans actually are. So either he's the only one they've had contact with and he's playing something he saw in an old movie, or they've met other natives and all of them are that way...
I think I see what Gaiman was going for, which was the "oh you think he's a Native American, you accepted that's what Native Americans are like," dodge. It just...backfired, because he assumed his readers are stupid.
CHAPTER EIGHT IS WHERE IT ALL COMES TOGETHER:
Claire: I feel like in Chapter 8 there is lots of explaining because all the characters are meeting up now and lots of connections have to be made.
"Oh hey Name, you verbed noun because verb noun! Surprising revelation!" .. "Oh yes Name, I verbed noun. Surprising explanation!"
Now all the couples are getting together quickly to wrap up this book. Magneto decides to make a proclamation and random demands before swanning off. Thor flies up into the sky like Poochie leaving the Simpsons!
Sam: WHAT WE HAVE LEARNED FROM 1602:
a) Don't trust the Scottish.
b) Steve Rogers is a cheeky lying Welsh Native American but not really.
c) Fucking aliens.
d) It's okay to fall in love with a boy as long as the boy is secretly a girl.
Claire: I think the person who was most missing was Wolverine. I felt a Wolverine-shaped hole in my heart.
If Cap was cheeky with his cheeky face, think of how cheeky Wolverine's face would have been as he strode around ye olde England in pantaloons!
Mandr: You know, I get it.
I get it. If you have a penis, you can just make garbage up and a bazillion dollars will come to you.
From now on, my name is Armand. DO YOU HEAR ME! MY ONLINE PERSONALITY IS ARMAND. I AM GOING TO BE FUCKING RICH.
ROB LIEFELD IS GOING TO DO MY COVER ART. NO ONE WILL HAVE ANY FEET.
MOTHERFUCKERS I WANT SOME IRON MAN:
Sam: WHERE IS TONY STARK? Wikipedia says he is...A VILLAIN. I'm now skimming trying to find Iron Man...it's very hard because everyone wears a goatee.
Claire: I think he's not in it!
There are so many people in leggings, trying to keep track of who is who when fighting. Also Clea and Virginia do you both have to have white hair??? Jean & Natasha do you both have to have red hair???
Sam: No he is! He's a bad guy in it! In apparently a VERY SMALL ROLE. What the fuck, wikipedia promised me Iron Man.
Mandr: There was supposed to be iron man? I feel cheated. I wanted renaissance Gambit.
Sam: Apparently Iron Man is in the New World version. "1602: New World is a the sequel to the 1602 limited series, and as such is set in the year 1602 in the same continuity as the original series and picks up where 1602 left off."
Mandr: "On Roanoke Island the recently empowered Peter Parquagh and Virginia Dare face an invasion of dinosaurs. Peter's new powers are no match for the Thunder Lizards, and Virginia is forced to transform into a T. rex to save him." EPIC!
Claire: Where is Captain America???? Wikipedia says this is about Peter and the Hulk ...! And the Green Goblin and Iron Man??
Sam: Captain America died! He walked into the ribbonny thing!
Claire: NO he's not dead - time reconfigured! He should be back! Why!? This is useless!
Frustration. Why can't things be written to my liking. To my exact specifications!?
Sam: I want some goddamn 17th century Iron Man.
And that's everything you need to know about Marvel 1602: in the sequel, you get Iron Man.