Tag Archives: Neil Gaiman

Marvel 1602

9 Oct

“Marvel 1602” written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Andy Kubert is my first graphic novel…and the word graphic is used advisedly.  The novel is set during the last days of Elizabeth I and into the reign of James I.  As torture and execution were common, Neil Gaiman has not shied away from this aspect of the times.

The premise is that something has brought the Marvel universe into being 400 years too early.  The cause has to be found and reversed before the universe is destroyed.  Leading this is Dr Stephen Strange, court magician and physician to Elizabeth I, and her “intelligencer”, Sir Nicholas Fury.  These two are the principal characters, but others rotate in and out, to greater and lesser degrees.

Needless to say, when Elizabeth dies, everything goes to hell in a hand basket.  One thing I did like was the way Neil Gaiman picked up on James’ nasty hypocrisy.  Executing witches for “heresy” whilst chasing pretty young men into his bedchamber.

I grew up on a steady diet of DC’s Wonder Woman, and Marvel’s Doctor Strange (with a little Thor and Loki thrown in), so many of the characters I am only familiar with from recent movies.

You will have fun picking out who’s who.  Some of them are obvious, and others are a little more subtle.

Neil Gaiman’s love of Norse mythology shines through in places too.   There was a somewhat blatant analogy to the oracular head Mirmir.

Fantastic story, with all of Gaiman’s flair and verve, and Kubert’s illustrations were brilliant.

Highly recommended to both history geeks and Marvel geeks.

The Severed Streets

16 Oct

Quill, Costain, Sefton and Ross are back for their second outing in Paul Cornell’s “The Severed Streets”.

In this, the second book of the Shadow Police series, the team have to deal with the return of Jack the Ripper.  Yes, the Ripper is back, but this time he’s targeting white men.  When one particular man is killed, it stops being police work and becomes very personal.  They’ll kick down the doors of Hell itself to get the answers… and vengeance.

In this book we learn a lot more about the Sight and how this occult world that Cornell has created works.

We also meet two fantastic new characters in the shape of The Rat King… and Neil Gaiman.  The wonderful Mr Gaiman has allowed himself to be turned into a character, and I think we’ll be seeing more of him in future books.  What he does you’ll have to read the book for yourself to find out.  Let’s just say it is NOT a cameo appearance by any means.

“The Severed Streets” has all the bounce and verve of “London Falling” as well as massive character development, and some seriously wicked repartee.

If you loved “London Falling” then you won’t be disappointed by its sequel.

Highly recommended to all lovers of police procedurals, urban fantasy, and horror.

Neil Gaiman Ate My Brain!

17 Mar

A few months ago I got a copy of one of Neil Gaiman’s anthologies for my birthday, I think it was “Smoke and Mirrors”.  I was enchanted with his writing style, his imagination and his ability to juggle words like a street entertainer juggling balls.

I was already familiar with his name, due to the fact he had written my favourite short story ever – “A Study in Emerald”, a Lovecraft/Conan Doyle crossover that had appeared in the anthology “Shadows Over Baker Street”.

I decided I would read more of Mr Gaiman’s work, but hadn’t got around to it.  The push I needed came when I read online that Benedict Cumberbatch was appearing in a BBC Radio adaptation of “Neverwhere” as the Angel Islington.  I know, you already knew the delectable Benedict Cumberbatch fitted in here somewhere.  I really am getting too predictable.

However, whatever the initial motivation was, I was soon captivated by “Neverwhere”.  It made my brain hurt.  A lot.  But I loved it.  Gaiman’s writing style and word play are simply delicious.  As one who loves the English language with a passion, giving me “Neverwhere” to read was like feeding me caviar and champagne.

I found myself drawn into Richard Mayhew’s life.  I loved the quest motif that prevailed throughout the book.  Mayhew spends the book trying to get what he wants, then when he gets it, he discovers he no longer wants it.  Because in the course of his adventures, he has changed.  He is no longer the man he was, so the life he now has, is no longer a good fit for him.  A wonderfully graphic demonstration of the old adage “Be careful what you wish for, because you might just get it”.

The characters, even the minor ones, are interesting and captivating.  I admit to being fascinated by Islington.  So compassionate and so cruel.  Every line I read I could hear Benedict Cumberbatch delivering.  That was an inspired piece of casting on someone’s part.

I can understand why they went for a radio adaptation rather than television or cinema.  “Neverwhere” is incredibly graphic.  The murderous duo of Mr Croup and Mr Vandermar are so violent that on screen you probably only get away with it if Tarantino was directing.  Not to mention the fact that the special effects budget would be horrendous.

The wonderfully weird part is though, that even at their most violent, Croup and Vandermar are enchanting.  Vicious, evil, urbane, charming.  The Blues Brothers as imagined by Quentin Tarantino.  Definitely not your average run of the mill story book villains. 

All of the characters in “Neverwhere” are enchanting.  Neil Gaiman has the most wonderful talent for creating characters that breath magic and enchantment.  They wind themselves around your heart, before sinking their fangs in.

A brilliant writer and a brilliant book.  I am looking forward to furthering my acquaintance with Neil Gaiman’s work.

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