HERE COMES SICKNESS
Sick today, yesterday too for that matter. I've taken a bullet for you, Mr. And Mrs. elderly American; I didn't get my flu shot and now I'm paying for it. Or maybe it's just the effects of being in a battleground state; the toxic residue of six weeks of non-stop campaign commercials. We had deceptive ads
tied to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing
well before the new Wolves ad. It does take a toll.
Anyway. In between my orange juice, I got around to reading 1602. It's...not as bad as it's been made out to be.
Not the most hearty of endorsements, but still. 1602 is worth a read, if approached with the right expectations. It is not a deep work; its concern is simply in telling a good tale rather than deconstructing superheros. Of course, it is only intermittently a good tale, though the parts that are good are very good; I respect any story that (SPOILERS) has the guts to put Dr. Strange's head on a pike. It suffers, though, from trying to work in waaaay too many characters. The Magneto subplot doesn't add much, and is in fact largely dropped towards the end of the book; Gaiman spends four issues setting up, as if for the first time, the Xavier/Magneto duality, only to have it peter out. Additionally, once it sets its mind on Mighty Marvel style superhero smackdown action in period drag, well, there's a reason I don't read many superhero books. A story more focused on what is a fairly interesting setting, and the characters more fully integrated into that setting (Fury, Strange, Daredevil) would have been a substantially stronger read.
The art is also problematic. Kubert is a nifty artist on a contemporary superhero book; he is much less so on a period piece. His natural tendency is to have characters pose and flex; flexing is not something I associate with the court of Queen Elizabeth, frankly. His character designs are also hit or miss; good work on Matt Murdock is undercut by frankly silly X-men designs. Spandex looks odder than normal when contrasted against period costume; see also the design for the Vulture, which is essentially the original character design. It's distracting; it's hard to get into the seventeenth century mindset with the Vulture flying around like the third rate character he is. If you're going to reinvent the characters, do it right; see, for example, the cover art to the series, which is everything that Kubert's is not: stylish, a compliment to the story, consistent with the period details. Though if the story was done scratch board style we'd still be on issue two.
The above makes 1602 sound like a bad book. It's not. I don't regret the time I spent reading it. It was mostly fun. Take it for what it is, have a good time with it. Go in expecting Sandman two, though...well, that's a recipe for disappointment.