1602 #1

Issue Date: 
November 2003
Story Title: 
Part One

Neil Gaiman (writer), Andy Kubert (illustrator), Richard Isanove (digital painting), Todd Klein (lettering), Scott McKowen (cover artist), Joe Quesada (editor), Nick Lowe (assistant editor), Nanci Dakesian (managing editor), Kelly Lamy (assistant managing editor), Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief), Bill Jemas (president).

Brief Description: 

Strange weather has enveloped the lands of Europe.

None can determine whether the situation be cause of witchcraft or act of God.

Sir Fury, the Master of Her Majesty’s Intelligence

Notes that a thing of great power is moving towards the kingdom

From the sacred lands of Jerusalem. Sir Strange, the Queen’s apothecary

Cannot decide what force, holy or unholy,

Is the cause of wicked thunderclaps and crimson skies.

Many believe the storms, cruel, and wicked,

To be the coming of the great Armageddon.

Sir Fury sends his man, Matthew the Bard to

Holy Jerusalem to investigate, while an Old Man of regard

Bids his steed and wondrous cargo make haste to Britain.

Meanwhile, an Angel is to burn in the fires of Spain,

While the “witchbreed” of Javier whisper in twain.

Full Summary: 

March, 1602
Hampton Court, England.

Queen Elizabeth I, monarch of England, refers to Sir Nicholas Fury regarding the matter of the horrific weather affecting the land. The skies are blood red, and deafening thunderclaps coupled with destructive lightning cloud the nation despite the lack of rain. The Queen wonders if the people of England who believe that it signals the end of the world are correct, but Sir Nicholas cannot say, as Armageddon is rather outside of his jurisdiction. The Queen turns her attention to Doctor Stephen Strange, her physician and sorcerer, hoping he can provide an answer. The Doctor cannot say, as he reckons that it is not for men to decide the Day of Judgment. The Queen informs him that if he cannot say, then the Crown is paying him for nothing. Oriana introduces the two men, informing Doctor Strange that Sir Nicholas is responsible for the Queen not being assassinated a hundred times over, and that he does his job well. The Queen coughs repeatedly, as she is old and nearing the end of her life. Doctor Strange tells Sir Nicholas of his mystic arts as the Queen departs for bed, revealing that something powerful and dangerous in Jerusalem has been offered to Strange’s protection, and Strange has accepted. Strange insists to Sir Nicholas that it must be kept safe until it arrives in England. Sir Nicholas replies that he can take care of it. The Queen bids both gentlemen that the world not end before she does.

Outside the palace:

Doctor Strange walks Sir Nicholas to the water taxi, and Sir Nicholas informs him that many say that the Queen is merely frightened by the storms of late. Sir Nicholas asks if the Templar treasure can protect them, to which Doctor Strange is perplexed, as he did not mention the Templars. Sir Nicholas replies that Strange also did not mention that the Old Man himself would be bringing the treasure to England. Sir Nicholas returns to his home in Westminster, to send the man who will guard the treasure. Doctor Strange retires to his home, to ask questions of his mirror.

The High Tower of the Palace of Inquisition

Domdaniel, Spain:

An Angel is manacled to the walls of the Tower, reminiscing about his life. Yesterday, the Inquisition burned a Jew, despite that he converted for all to see. The Angel could smell the fire. The man called on his God to protect him. The guards came to the Angel that night, claiming that the death was unimportant; that he was a heretic; that it was a waste of a death. Angel thinks to himself that he is not tortured physically. The Spaniards have asked him questions: Who hid him as he grew? Who protected him? Did he kiss the Devil’s rump? Does he have friends who are Witchbreed? He is only seventeen years old, and he will die tomorrow. What hurts him the most is that he will die on the ground, never to take to the skies again. Or, more correctly, he will take to the skies once more – as ashes.

The Moor’s Head Tavern

Westminster, England:

Matthew, a poor blind Irish bard, is singing for the late night pub crowd. He sings a verse from the Ballad of the Fantastick:

“There were four brave souls, rode the oceans abroad,

T’was on the Fantastick they sailed,

And one was a Captain, and one was a Lord,

And one a young hothead who carried a sword,

And the last was a maiden so pale, so pale,

The last was a maiden so pale.”

One of the patrons insists that Matthew shut up, as the Ballad of the Fantastick is a song of ill-omen. As Matthew gathers his things, a young boy can be seen playing with a spider on the tavern table. Another patron asks what the boy has found, to which the lad responds by telling him what a magnificent beast the spider is. The drunk laughs at him as he brings his beer stein down on top of the poor spider right in front of his face. Sir Nicholas arrives at the bar, asking the boy, Peter, of the room is ready. It is. Meanwhile, Matthew has left the tavern, claiming that he is off to search for a tavern that will be grateful for some music.

The innkeeper leads Sir Nicholas and Peter to the room, which is dark, as he requested. Peter asks how on Earth the man is going to get to the room, which is on the second floor. Sir Nicholas replies not to worry, he will arrive. Matthew scales the wall nimbly, and perches on the ledge. Peter says that no one would dare to come up unless he were the Devil himself. Matthew replies, through the darkness, that if a Devil is one who dares when others hold back, then he is happy to play the Devil. Sir Nicholas introduces him to Peter Parquagh, his assistant.

Matthew asks about the word on the street that something big is headed this way from Jerusalem. Sir Nicholas asks who else is after it, to which Matthew informs him that the usual bunch of the King of Spain, the Tsar, and Count Otto von Doom will be looking. Peter interrupts to as if Doom is the one they call “The Handsome.” Matthew replies that he can’t say he’s ever seen it himself. Sir Nicholas orders Matthew to meet the Old Man at Trieste, paying him one diamond now, and one diamond upon delivery of the cargo – his usual payment. Matthew asks for Fury to throw him the diamond, and he catches it, to Peter’s astonishment.

Later in the evening, Peter asks Sir Nicholas about the kind of man or thing the Devil is. Sir Nicholas replies that he is merely grateful to the providence which led him to work for England and not her enemies. Peter says tat he knows one thing for certain – he is not afraid of the dark. Sir Nicholas replies that he probably isn’t afraid of anything else, either.

The House of Stephen Strange

Greenwich, England:

Clea Strange asks her husband how the Queen is. Strange replies that she is pragmatic enough to have a magician for a physician. However, she grows closer to the grave, and her heir, James of Scotland has no love for sorcerers. Strange says that he will use his powers to search for some answers to give the Queen. He chants some magic words, and asks Clea to ask him questions about what he sees. Strange sees a ship called the Virginia Maid traveling across the ocean to the west, carrying two people on the deck. Stephen thinks that there are no answers here. Strange then moves to a mountain far away, built to withstand Earth, Air, Water, and Fire, but it slips away. Strange then moves to a tower, where an angel is bound. He reconsiders – it is a man with wings. Strange notes that they are preparing a fire in the square below the tower. In the monastery, he sees a priest, conversing with a nun whose habit is the colour of fresh blood. Strange focuses to hear them, but the nun notices him, and waves him away wit a gesture. Strange snaps out of his spell, and asks Clea to tell him what he has said. Clea tells him that she will tell him when he wakes. She asks if they’ll be alright once James assumes the throne. Strange replies that he doesn’t know…

The Fortress of the Inquisition

Domdaniel, Spain:

The Grand Inquisitor asks Sister Wanda about the presence she felt. Wanda replies that she may have imagined it. The Inquisitor doubts it – he is sure that it was Javier. He informs Petros, a young man, that the guard must be extra vigilant at the burning. He asks Sister Wanda to leave them. The Inquisitor asks what King James has to share with him. While James is of the Protestant faith, he feels there is common cause against witches, magicians and witchbreed. The Inquisitor asks if there is room for alliance. James replied to Petros that the English still remember Bloody Mary – so any work must be done quietly and with public support. The Inquisitor tells Petros to inform James that the witchbreed are planning to blow up the English Parliament. Petros asks if he is serious, to which the Inquisitor replies that Petros’ innocence is refreshing. The Inquisitor says that Javier will not get this poor soul, as he burns at sunrise. Just as they all will burn.

The Atlantic Ocean

Aboard the Virginia Maid:

Virginia, the young girl aboard the ship, asks Rojhas, her Indian servant, if he is asleep. Rojhas says no. Virginia wonders aloud why her father did not come, and why he sent her with Rojhas. To both questions, Rojhas replies “You know.” Virginia says that London will be buzzing like a hive if word gets out of the first girl born in the colonies arriving in London with her Indian protector. Rojhas insists that he will protect her. No one will hurt Virginia. Virginia worries that she may hurt someone else.

Westminster, England:

Peter asks Sir Nicholas why they are here. Sir Nicholas replies that it is a very profound question, but Peter rephrases the question, meaning why are they by the Temple and not crossing the river. Sir Nicholas says that it is a perfect place to be for two reasons: First, because it was built by the Templars. Peter asks about who the Templars were, to which Sir Nicholas replies that they were an awesome race of warrior monks and the most powerful organization in all Christendom. They guarded a treasure, through war and peace for centuries, which is a secret kept to this day. Peter asks what the second reason was. Sir Nicholas says that it approaches from behind – the boy needs to step away. An assassin appears, attempting to stab Sir Nicholas, but only denting his blade. Sir Nicholas beats the intruder unconscious, and drags him to the Tower of London. The second reason was to get rid of a follower.

Mediterranean Sea:

Captain Nelson asks Matthew why he travels so much. It is rumored that Matthew is a smuggler. Nelson says that he heard a story once of a sailor that tried to rob a blind Irish bard once, and was lucky to escape with his life. Matthew replies that the same can be said for anyone who asks too many questions.

The High Tower of the Palace of Inquisition

Domdaniel, Spain:

The guards prepare to drag the Angel to the stake. The Angel insists that he is no monster – he is as the Creator made him. The guard insists that he looks like an angel, but his creator is the Devil. He asks if the Angel will repent and plead mercy. The Angel asks if he would be spared. The guard says not all; but they would use wet wood, and the smoke would render him unconscious before being burnt. As the guards prepare to set fire to the wood at the stake, two hooded figures whisper to each other. The Angel begins to panic at the sight of the flame. One of the men pulls off his hood, revealing a red eye-piece, and shouts “Now.” At that, the fire extinguishes itself, and the guards attempt to kill the Angel quickly. Immediately, a wall of ice is erected around the stake, allowing the Angel to escape. The man with the eye-piece removes his piece, and a red beam from his eyes breaks the Angel’s bonds. The Angel asks what the man is. The man replies that he is witchbreed, like him. The man asks the Angel if he can fly, to which the Angel replies “Yes.” However, there is a wall in the way for the two rescuers. The man with the red eyes looks at the wall, and it is destroyed.

Queen Elizabeth is an old woman, and in pain, and she sleeps poorly. Now she tosses uncomfortably in her bed, and rolls over, and dreams a strange dream.

Queen Elizabeth’s Dream:

The Old Man left Jerusalem two days ago, in a cart, pulled by a donkey. The back of the cart was piled high with battered furniture – chairs, and pots, and an unremarkable wooden chest – and padded with straw. As he left, three other carts let Jerusalem. The other carts were accompanied by outriders, and guards. They were decoys, although the men who drove them did not know that. The Old Man is accompanied only by a member of their order who can pass as a deaf-mute servant. The rumble of the storm is now almost continual. He knows much, the Old Man. He knows many things. He knows tat one of the other carts has already been seized by enemies, by those who would steal the treasure of their order. He felt them die.

He does not know what has begun to tear the world apart, but he recognizes the first signs. He knows where he needs to go. He knows that the time is upon him, the time his order has guarded their treasure for so patiently, and for so long. The ground shakes. When the rain begins, it rains not water but blood and tiny lizards, which squirm and scream before shriveling into jelly beneath the wooden wheels of the cart. The old man whips the donkey. It plods on. He wonders if he has left all this too late. Trieste is a long way. England is much further. And now he begins to worry about his cargo. He travels with the most powerful thing in the world. He fears it will not be enough.

Half-waking, the Queen coughs, and before her dreams can vanish into the day she is suddenly and inexplicably afraid…

Off the coast of Spain:

The witchbreed from the Inquisition’s Tower are traveling in a boat, propelled by Apprentice John Grey’s powers. The man with the red eyes introduces John, himself (Scotus Summerisle) and the ice-man (Roberto Trefusis). John apparently speaks but little. The Angel tells the story of how his mother was killed in front of him when he was captured. He asks if they will be safe from the rest of the world at their “Sanctuary.” Scotius replies “Aye. Perhaps. For a little while.”

Characters Involved: 

Her Highness, Queen Elizabeth I of England

Sir Nicholas Fury, Master of Her Majesty’s Intelligence

Sir Doctor Stephen Strange, Master of Her Majesty’s Potions

Peter Parquagh, page to Sir Nicholas

Mistress Clea Strange, wife to Sir Stephen

Matthew Murdoch, the Bard

Captain Nelson

Virginia Dare, first child of the New World

Rojhas, Virginia’s Indian man-servant

The Grand Inquisitor of Spain

Sister Wanda

Brother Petros

Scotius Sumerisle

Roberto Trefusis

Apprentice John Grey

Werner, “The Angel”

An Assassin

Story Notes: 

Articles of Interest:

Most of the major characters represented in 1602 are all alternate forms of popular Marvel Comics heroes and villains:

Sir Nicholas Fury, Master of Her Majesty’s Intelligence = Col. Nick Fury

Sir Stephen Strange, Master of Her Majesty’s Potions = Dr. Strange

Peter Parquagh, page to Sir Nicholas = Peter Parker / Spider-Man

Matthew Murdoch, the Bard = Matt Murdock / Daredevil

Captain Nelson = Foggy Nelson

Rojhas, Virginia’s Indian man-servant = Steve Rogers / Captain America

The Grand Inquisitor of Spain = Magneto

Sister Wanda = Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch

Brother Petros = Pietro Maximoff / Quicksilver

Scotius Sumerisle = Scott Summers / Cyclops

Roberto Trefusis = Bobby Drake / Iceman

Apprentice John Grey = Jean Grey

Werner = Warren Worthington III / Angel

An Assassin = (possibly) the Vulture

The counterparts have almost identical powers to the Marvel Universe – the only exceptions are Peter Parquagh, who is powerless, and Rojhas, who seems to be dramatically stronger than everyone else, which was not a noted aspect of Captain America.

Matthew sings a verse from the “Ballad of the Fantastick” in each of the issues of 1602. The ballad refers to Sir Reed and his crew, who are known to be dead.

“Oriana” was the name bestowed upon Elizabeth I by historians – it is short for “Gloriana.” Gaiman actually calls her “Gloriana” in the issue.

Since Queen Elizabeth had no children, her cousin, the Scottish King James was next in line. People were afraid that James would reinstall the Catholic faith. While he did not do that James was also known to be almost as brutal as Mary I, known to the people as “Bloody Mary” for her mass public executions.

Virginia Dare does not have a Marvel analogue. She was indeed a historical character, the first white child born in America. Actually she was never sent to England, as opposed to her grandfather; governor White, who travelled to London in 1587 to ask for assistance. The relief expedition didn’t make it back to the Roanoke colony until 1590, by which point the entire colony had disappeared leaving behind only the word "croatoan".
Nick Fury here seems to take the role of Francis Walsingham, who basically created the British secret service for Elizabeth.
Strange here seems to take the role of John Dee, astrologer, mathematician, mystic and an advisor to Elizabeth.

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