“In Which We Discover the Way of the World”
Writer: Neil Gaiman
Artists: Andy Kubert (pencils), Richard Isanove (digital paints)
Everyone arrives in the New World, but they bring their agendas from the Old Country with them. Carlos has business with the Inquisitor, Thor’s host has an ongoing crisis of faith, Fury and Rojhaz have worlds to save (but not the same one), Clea has a final statement to make, and Reed has had a very long time to think.
The final three issues really made this series worthwhile. First an all-out action issue, then a macabre one of mourning and death. Now we’ve got an issue of new hope in a new land, even if much of it is bittersweet and compromised by the human frailties of even these extraordinary people. Gaiman achieves poetry in both language and elegant plotting, while making use of every detail he can.
The principle fun this issue is Reed’s low-tech approach to undoing the cosmic mistake he’s realized is the cause for all we’ve seen. What else would one so brilliant do than use the tools at hand, in this case the extraordinary powers (be they magic or not) of his new allies? A super-group has gathered, and they’re no less formidable for their lack of modern technology.
Also powerful are the evident coping strategies of women in this barely modern world: Jean masqueraded as a boy (whom Angel nonetheless loved). Clea takes her leave dramatically without her husband to compensate for her misery. Susan stays invisible (and nude) constantly. Only Virginia (beloved of her father, protected by Rojhaz) seems hopeful. Gaiman’s sensitive portrait of Peter Parker is also memorable.
What’s less interesting: Well, it’s clear that the time loop ending allows for both the restoration of the Marvel Universe and the continuation of this one, but, what the hey, if they can keep the world of Sandman going in Gaiman’s wake, why not 1602?
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