Marvel’s Secret Wars event has allowed for a lot of creativity and, dare I say, freedom in the story-telling associated with the event. Tie-ins starring Zombies, 5 different Ghost Riders, and even an entire police force made up of every imaginable Thor are only a few examples of this piecemealed patchwork planet turned painted paper-panel playwrights’ playground, and Marvel is truly giving longtime fans a treat. With so many tie-ins, however, there’s bound to be one or two that simply overdo the premise. It’s cool to bring different parts of the Marvel U and smash them together for something awesome, but sometimes things just don’t work. 1602 Witch Hunter Angela #1 is this in a nutshell. While the ish is delivered well, it fails to feel fully important to fans of 1602 as a universe or Angela as a character.
The 1602 Universe was an odd one when the original launched, full of magic and weird versions of well-known Marvel Characters. 1602 Witch Hunter Angela #1 definitely gets the tone of the original event, with neat Victorian-era dialogue and fun spins on Marvel’s stable, and despite it being an odd take on the character, Angela has been tossed into the mix very nicely. Writers Marguerite Bennett and Kieron Gillen complement each well to craft a truly unique tale in this Secret Wars event, and that alone makes the book worth at least a glance.
Artists Stephanie Hans and Marguerite Sauvage (that’s two Margerites on this book if you’re keeping track) work together on art, and both do a fantastic job, but I wasn’t entirely sure why the book needed two artists. Let’s put three artists on a book…or four. The more the merrier.
1602 WHA #1 was not a great representation of either the 1602 universe or Angela as a character, leaving fans of either or both left wanting. While many of the tie-ins have a sort of “bait-and-switch” aspect to them due to the very nature of the Secret Wars spin put on it all, 1602 WHA #1 was just way too much of that spin, and everything that was advertised just seemed to fall off from the force. Not enough 1602, and not enough Angela, who is so new to the Marvel Universe that most readers have no real idea who she even is. This weird spin does less to solidify the character in Marvel’s stable, and may actually confuse would be to the point of pushing them away entirely.
The art, while great in almost every instance, faltered in consistency with two artists working the ish for no noticeable reason. There didn’t seem to be a story element to the art change, and the two styles are in no way similar to each other, adding confusion to an already distracting issue as I tried to figure out exactly what angle this story was taking.
Secret Wars has certainly allowed for creative freedom at a publishing house infamous for putting short editorial leashes on writers, but it can’t all be great, and 1602 Witch Hunter Angela takes way too many missteps for it to be a great comic. The universe that the ish gets half of its title from just isn’t represented enough, and the character giving her namesake to the other half of the title just isn’t represented well. The art, while good, is just as unclear as the story with two artists sharing pages, and didn’t add anything meaningful to the narrative. It’s a good one, but not great.