Apr 13, 2015

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 48: 1602 #2, November 2003


I realized today that I haven't talked much about covers yet. I love this one. I think it's one of the nicest covers I've seen. (That's why it's a little bigger today.) It, and all of the covers for 1602, were created by Stratford, Ontario artist Scott McKowen. The ostensible use of a cover on a comic, and on anything, really, is to draw the eye to that object over all the other objects that might be vying for your attention.

Look at that cover. Even surrounded by hundreds of other comic, that's going to draw your eye.

I don't know how others look at it, but I begin to look for esoteric symbols in the hedge designs. That's only one of the ways that this cover also achieves the feat of really expertly symbolizing the atmosphere and action of the story beneath it. Did you ever see a cover of a comic and get really excited by it and then find that, really, nothing even remotely like what's happening on the cover happens inside? This cover, without explicitly citing some of the interior artwork, tells you precisely what's going to happen in the story within, but spoils nothing. The figures on the cover are doing precisely what they do in the comic, but in a highly symbolic environment. Some move toward the center, some are left at the periphery, some look ahead and some look back.

And that's what happens in this issue. I feel like this one's going to be a bit weird to talk about, because it really is a matter of each chapter basically breaking down to intrigue upon intrigue. Plans were made, predictions divined, powers revealed. In a lot of ways, this book is really a love-letter to the Marvel characters, proof from a gifted pen that they really could exist in any milieu, that there really is something timeless about them. The trouble with this is whether or not the story is really that good. Let me explain: I'm trying to ascertain how much of the appeal of the story is the revelation of the characters in a new setting, the novelty of seeing Daredevil as a blind Irish minstrel, or Peter Parker...ahem....Parquaugh as Nicholas Fury's assistant, and how much is the actual story. Or would this story, one of the end of the world and a lost Templar treasure still be as good if it were not the Marvel characters filling the leading roles. Does the story depend too much on the affection we have for the characters prior to their appearance here? And what does that say about the way comics work, let alone why these characters have succeeded where others have dwindled away into history? We no longer read Timely's original Vision, but his contemporary Captain America is still about. Many superheroes simply disappear, so what makes these ones so loved, and so adaptable?

These are the kinds of questions that drive me in my research. I think they're important ones to ask.


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