Corrections, additions, and suggestions are of course welcome. Please e-mail them to me.
These annotations are mirrored at the Comic Book Annotations site.
Jason Pomerantz has written "Mysteries
and Conundrums," his examination of 1602 #2. It's definitely
worth looking at. And Julian Darius has added to his annotations of 1602#2.
Updated on 30 September. Updates in blue.
(The text here, except where otherwise credited, is © copyright 2003 Jess Nevins, and may not be duplicated, in part or in whole, without my permission).
Cover. This is a hedge maze. In the 17th century
English kings and queens began building them as amusement parks; a
notable one is at Hampton Court Palace, the royal palace on the Thames
to the west of London. I’m sure I’ve seen an image quite look this,
and that this cover is an homage, but I don’t recall to what, exactly.
Bill Stiteler says, “This is, of course, a Labyrinth, which in the Greek mythos, had a monster, the Minotaur, in the middle. This cover has Virginia Dare in the center.”
Kelvin Green says, "the little arabesque twirl behind the title is different
to the one on the cover of #1. It's a little more complex now and twists
over itself on the right-hand side. I doubt this reflects anything in the
plot itself, but you never know..."
Page 1. “By the grace of God” is the traditional postscript to the names of England’s kings and queens. Julian Darius says, ""The honor" in Fury's closing is the honor of having been knighted, and thus the right to call one's self "sir.""
Page 2. Panel 3. “Omnia mutantur, nos
et mutamur in illis” is an actual Latin quote, often attributed to Ovid.
The ever-useful Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable attributes
the saying to Nicholas Borbonius, a 16th century Latin poet.
“Master Carolus Javier’s Select College for the Sons of Gentlefolk” is an analogue for Charles Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, which in the Marvel Universe is the school where Professor Xavier teaches mutant children and which also serves as the headquarters for the X-Men.
Mike Robinson says, "Neil is having a gentle poke
at the Americans with his naming of Javier, as this is the correct pronouniation
of Xavier; i.e. it shouldn't be pronounced 'X-avier' as most people seem
wont to do but rather 'Hh-vier'!"
Panel 4. This figure is an analogue for Henry McCoy. In the Marvel
Universe Henry McCoy is the blue-furred and brutish-looking Beast,
a mutant and member of the X-Men. Bill Stiteler, among a few others,
including Alexx Kay, want me to explain that the Beast wasn't always
blue-furred, and that when he first appeared he was human-looking, more
Panel 5. McCoy’s volubility here is a reference to the Marvel Universe’s Beast, who is equally talkative.
Page 3. Panel 1. There is a recurring X motif in this room, which is fitting considering that these are analogues for the X-Men.
Just a bit of clarification for the comments for p. 3, panel 1:Michael Painter says, "you can see what looks like on the mantle as two helmets. Could this be a reference to 1600's version of the Cerebero, Prof. Xavier's tool to heighten his ability to find mutants over long distances. It would explain how the team rescued Werner in the first issue."
The date of the publication of the word "Dinosauria" (and hence the vernacular "dinosaur") was 1842, by Sir Richard Owen. The context was the print version of a presentation done the previous year on "British Fossil Reptiles" for the British Association for the Advancement of Science. In that paper, Owen notes that three fossil reptiles (Megalosaurus, Iguanodon, and Hylaeosaurus) were distinct from all the other known creatures by a unique combination of anatomical features (such as upright hindlimbs), "all manifested by creatures far surpassing in size the largest existing reptiles, will, it be presumed, be deemed sufficient ground for establishing a distinct tribe or sub-order of Saurian Reptiles, for which I would propose the name of Dinosauria."
(Incidentally, the footnote for this section of Owen 1842 clearly indicates that he defined "deinos" as "fearfully great" (i.e., scary big) rather than simply "terrible" as normally used.)
And the comments already on their are correct: it wasn't until the 1870s that complete dinosaur fossils were known, and of course the majority of known fossil dinosaur species were not discovered until after 1900.
Panel 2. “The last man to tell me that was King James of Scotland.”
King James was famous for his opposition to tobacco, as his 1604 essay “A Counterblaste to Tobacco” shows. Kelvin Green adds, "Marvel (and other comic companies) have recently been running anti-smoking ads in their comics, making Javier's comment here a nice coincidence."
Page 5. Panel 1. Bill Stiteler says, “Of whom is this statue in the garden... a cloaked figure extending a hand. The Inquisitor, perhaps, reflecting a former partnership between him and Javier?” Chris Harris (and M.) wonders if it is coincidence that the figure looks like Destiny from Sandman. (Gaiman's most successful work, Sandman, features an anthropomorphized Destiny who looks like this statue).
Panel 2. “Sometimes I dream of building a room in which dangers
would come from nowhere. Can you imagine? An intelligent place, in
which a hundred perils hide, to teach them to fight as a team.”
Javier here is dreaming of a version of the Danger Room, which in the Marvel Universe is the training room, full of hidden dangers, for the X-Men.
Panel 3. It seems that the amazingly bleedin' obvious is worth
commenting on, according to my correspondents, so...the uniforms of Javier's
men are similar to those of the X-Men in the Marvel Universe. Mark Coale
notes that the costumes are similar to the Silver Age (that is, 1960s) uniforms
of the X-Men, but that "young master Grey" is wearing a costume with the
colors of the Phoenix, the very powerful cosmic entity who was...um...it's
a bit too complicated to get into now. Let's just say that for a short while
Jean Grey turned into the Phoenix rather than Marvel Girl.
Mark Schryver points out that the nationalities of Javier's students are
European, while the Silver Age X-Men are all American. Mark goes on to say,
"Gaiman said in an interview somewhere that, when reading his stuff, you
should always pay attention to the names. Tiny details accreting into a
greater whole is one of the man's specialties."
Page 6. Panel 1. There is a Bleeding Heart
Inn in London, on Greville Street.
Note that the feathers of Rojhaz’s head almost form a star, similar to the one on the Captain America’s chest and shield.
Page 8. Panel 1. Lombardy is a region in
northern Italy. Neil Gaiman, in his weblog, pointed out that this
was supposed to be Picardy, in France, not Lombardy.
The song Matthew is singing is obviously part of the Ballad of the Fantastick mentioned in issue #1.
Panel 2. “Natasha” is the 1602 analogue for Natasha Romanov, the Black Widow, a former Soviet/Russian spy now turned heroine.
Julian Darius points out, "The notion that Matthew
Murdoch is a poor singer seems universal; it was also shared by those
in the Moor's Head in the previous issue...."
Page 9. Panel 1. Kelvin Green,
among others, points out that Matthew and Natasha's flirtation here is a
reflection of their relationship in the Marvel Universe, in which they are
on-again off-again lovers.
Page 10. In the Marvel Universe Matt Murdock, aka
Daredevil, got his enhanced senses (and was rendered blind) when he
was struck in the face by a cylinder of radioactive materia. (This happened
when he was a child and threw himself in the road to shove an old man
out of the way of a speeding truck).
Page 11. Panels 1-3. Natasha is knitting a pattern in the shape of a spider’s web.
Panel 2. “And besides, with my husband dead....”
In the Marvel Universe Natasha Romanov’s husband was a test pilot (who later became the costumed Red Guardian); the KGB told Natasha that he was dead, and so she went to work for the KGB as the Black Widow.
Panel 4. “Latveria,” in the Marvel Universe, is a made-up country
which is the home of Dr. Doom. Latveria borders on
Hungary and Serbia.
Page 12. Panel 3. Rocket Robin Hood points
out that von Doom takes responsibility here for whatever happened to
the 1602 analogues of the Fantastic Four.
Panels 3-4. The over-inflated rhetoric of Count Otto von Doom is
quite similar to his Marvel counterpart’s.
Panel 4. Mike Grasso says, of von Doom's assistants, "Are the
dwarfs that attend Otto Von Doom Mole Men? It would combine two of the
FF's earliest foes...." In the Marvel Universe one of the enemies of the
Fantastic Four is the Mole Man, a stunted, almost blind misanthrope who lives
underground and rules a race of dwarfish yellow creatures called "Moloids."
James A. Wolf says, "I've seen the those dwarf
slaves before- it was in a Spiderman/ Dr Strange Team up (available in the
Frank Miller Spidey collection). They're Doom's servitors."
Page 13. Panel 1. Mike Grasso, among a few others, including Elias Curi, wonders if the "David" King James is speaking to might be Bruce David Banner, who in the Marvel Universe is the Hulk. Well, shame on me for letting this one go by. As many people pointed out, including Greg Sullivan, Geoff Wessel, and Andy Holcombe, Bruce Banner was only "David" in the Hulk TV show. In the Marvel Universe he's Robert Bruce Banner.
Pages 14. Panel 2. “But if my dream is true, then she would need to die very soon. If Providence destroyed the Isles of Britain before I could be King, that would be a terribly bad thing.”
Pages 15. Panel 1. “He found us that first
winter, when we were starving, and he hunted game for us, and
fed us. We would have died...”
This is an accurate summation of the history of the first English colonies in the Americas; without the help of the native peoples, the colonies would have died during the first winter.
Panel 2. Mark Coale prompts me to define "ague"
for those of you unfamiliar with the term. From the Oxford English Dictionary:
"A malarial fever, marked by successive fits or paroxysms, consisting of
a cold, hot, and sweating stage. The name ague was apparently at first given
to the burning or feverish stage, but afterwards more usually to the cold
or shivering stage, as being the most striking external character of the
Panel 3. “My mother and father...also passed away. I lived with
my Aunt and Uncle. On my last birthday Sir Nicholas Fury came to the
door. He had known my parents. He said it was time that I entered his
service, and that it was what my father would have wished.”
In the Marvel Universe Peter Parker (who Peter, here, is an analogue of) was raised by his Uncle Ben and Aunt May. Peter’s parents, Richard and Mary Parker, were agents of an unnamed American spy agency before they died. Several folks, including Kelvin Green, correct my earlier statement and note that the Parkers were recruited by Nick Fury himself. The Parkers worked for Nick Fury at "the agency" (the CIA), however, not SHIELD.
Several folks, including Mark Coale, prompt me
to point out that in the universe of 1602, unlike the Marvel Universe,
Peter's Uncle Ben is still alive.
Page 16. Panel 1.
Matt Putnam-Pouliot says, " In the Marvel Universe, Peter Parker wore glasses
as a teenager (at some point growing out of them). He was also very bright
for his age - a bit of a scientist and inventor." Mike Grasso says, "Peter
Parquagh is talking on page 16 about wanting to make things is an analogue
to Peter Parker, junior chemist, who made his own webbing."
Panel 3. This sequence with Virginia and
Peter, and her reaction to him, made me think of Gwen Stacy, Peter’s first
love and the best woman who ever loved him. (Unlike that hussy MJ). In the
Marvel Universe Gwen Stacy was The Woman for Peter in the early years, but
she died while Peter, as Spider-Man, fought the Green Goblin.
Panel 5. David J. Snyder says, "the fishing net and black and red candle he (Dr. Strange) suddenly wanted invoked the image of Spider-Man's costume for me."
Page 19. Panel 5. Greg
Plantamura says, of the fact that there are three assassins, "Two of these
we've seen (in the first two issues of 1602) resemble Spider-man's foe, the
Vulture. Assuming that the third is also a "vulture", this may be a
reference to the fact that Spider-Man has faced three characters who have
assumed the identity of the Vulture."
Page 20. Panel 5. The idea that the Welsh
discovered America long before the Spanish was one current in the late
16th and early 17th century. Supposedly Prince Madoc sailed to America
in 1170 and founded a colony. Queen Elizabeth used this legend to claim
British possession of America during the English war with Spain.
Will Spratt says, "the Welsh people have a few
defining characteristics that this refers to: -
one - their Ferengi-like nature (a "welshman preys on his knees on Sunday, and on everybody else the rest of the week!") two - their hair colour. As a scion of a welsh family, I've inherited the famous welsh pale skin and very dark locks. Someone is playing with the whole Vikings found america bit..."
Page 21. Panel 2. This is the analogue for
the Marvel Universe villain the Vulture, who is the enemy of Spider-Man.
Patrick McCaw says,
Since the 1602 version of the Vulture appears in issue 2, Fury's attacker from issue 1 obviously cannot be him. And since both he and the Vulture apear to be part of the same plot, and unrelated to the witchbread or Inquisition, he shouldn't be Toad or Vanisher. Instead he is most likely Green Goblin after all. I suspect that this entire plot is linked to 1602's equivalent to the Sinister Six, since Peter has been present for both attacks so far, and that they both involved Spider-Man villain equivalents. As such I would expect the assassin lined-up for Queen Elizabeth to be one of Doctor Octopus, Mysterio, Kraven the Hunter, or Sandman (which I doubt Mr. Gaiman could resist using somewhere in this story for obvious reasons).The Sinister Six, in the Marvel Universe, are an alliance of enemies of Spider-Man.
Panels 5-6. The platter Rojhaz grabs and throws is circular and similar in shape to the shield which Captain America uses.
Page 22. Panel 4. Presumably this is the shape Virginia was afraid she’d turn into. If she is the analogue of Gwen Stacy, there is no account of Gwen having superpowers. Perhaps Virginia is a kind of analogue for the Marvel Universe villain The Owl? (It is very doubtful that Virginia Dare is an analogue for the Marvel Universe superheroine Snowbird, because Snowbird was created after 1969, which is the cutoff date Neil Gaiman is using for characters).
Matt Putnam-Pouliot says (echoing a growing number of posters, including
Dennis O'Hagan, Leo Antolini), "I don’t think Miss Dare is suppose to
represent anyone from the Marvel Universe, but is a witchbreed. Also, I’d
like to point out that her monster form resembles an eagle - a symbol of
Patrick McCaw says, "the true nature of Virginia Dare that has not yet
been postulated: That she is the 1602 equivalent of Bruce Banner.
That her transformation is involuntary, frightening and violent but me
very much in mind of The Hulk. That Bruce/Hulk have often worked together,
and share a link through Rick Jones, gives a reason for the association
Scott D. Hamilton says, "And regarding the "superhero" identity of Virginia
Dare in 1602, I vote for the Falcon. In his first appearance he was displaced
to a tropical island and followed Steve Rogers back to America. This story
also featured the Cosmic Cube(hint!), and I believe just makes the 1969
cut-off for characters."
Mike Grasso and Maureen O'Brien forward "The White Deer named
Virginia Dare." Maureen adds, "Virginia Dare's maternal grandfather
was Governor John White. Her father's name was Ananias Dare; her mother
was Eleanor White Dare. White Dare...White deer...I wonder if that shapeshifting
story was just some horrible pun.... <g>"
Mark Schryver says,
As for who the girl is: Well, Captain America has had a sidekick named Falcon, so an Eagle's not that much of a change. But Falcon was introduced in, what, the '70s? And changing a 20- or 30-something year old black man into a teenaged white girl would be an awfully odd move, given how closely the other characters have resembled themselves.Toby Finch says, "our metamorphic heroine, in coming from Virginia, shares her home with another monsterous winged humanoid: 'The Mothman' said to have haunted the area in the late 1960's. I wonder if there could be some implied connection between the two?"
I think that Virginia Dare, the first European child born in the Americas, is a sort of were-eagle. First, she's of two natures - conceived in Europe, but born in America, which makes her lycanthropy a nifty metaphor for her situation. Second, her transformations are violence-based - she Hulks out - instead changing to the rhythms of the moon. I think that fits in nicely with what Gaiman has said about what America does to the Old World's myths, in American Gods.
Thanks to: Alicia, a treasure beyond rubies; Rocket Robin Hood, Bill Stiteler,
Brian, Matt Putnam-Pouliot, Alexx Kay, Mike Grasso, Chris Harris, Tony
Williams, Brian, Dennis O'Hagan, Leo Antolini, Elias Curi, Kelvin Green,
Maureen O'Brien, Scott D. Hamilton, M., Mark Coale, David J. Snyder, Ray
Yamka, tphile, Peter Fabricius, Greg Plantamura, Jason Pomerantz, William
Mahoney, Raheil Rahman, Trey Hooks, Matthew Pederson, Rob Seegel, Hand-of-Omega,
Julian Darius, Mark Peyton, the indefatigable Ronald Byrd, Mark Schryver,
Mark Peyton, Zachery Garrett, John Innes, Thomas R. Holtz, Jr., Eric Garneau,
James A. Wolf, Toby Finch, Mike Robinson, Edgar Delgado, Geoff Wessel, Gary
Gibson, Will Spratt, David Swanger, Paul Craig, Adam Leir, Gregg Whitmore,
Andy Holcombe, Julian Solis, Matt Lazorwitz, and Bill Zegarski.