The 1602 Universe continues with Peter David offering his take on the Fantastick Four. They spent much of the original 1602 graphic novel as prisoners of Count Otto Von Doom, no longer named Otto the Handsome after his experiences in that adventure.

David stars this extrapolation by gluing his tongue into his cheek, and there it stays throughout. From an opening sequence where the Most Frightful Four sail off the edge of the world to Von Doom kidnapping Shakespeare to chronicle his exploits, it would appear David is unable to take the concept of Marvel heroes re-cast in the early 17th century seriously. If you can live with that, he produces an entertaining diversion, but those wanting the portentous gravitas of the parent story might not appreciate it as much.

Since the events of 1602, the Fantastick Four have separated, although all returned to England from the New World. The abduction of Shakespeare, though, reunites them on a rescue mission. David’s cast throughout are exaggerated versions of their present day counterparts. Doom is a pompous, but dangerous, buffoon, Johnny Storm drunken and impulsive, and Reed Richards inquisitive beyond all else. One character from the original series deemed surplus to requirement is disposed of in a startling manner.

It’s a continuing frustration with post-millennium Marvel that with a mere five chapter story readers are served two artists with differing styles. Even if deadline problems required Koi Pham to step in for Pascal Alixe, couldn’t he have been provided with reference to ensure a consistent visual interpretation of the Thing? Then for that matter, could Alixe not have been provided with reference to ensure his version corresponded with that seen in 1602? It’s a lack of respect for people expected to pay a fair amount for this book.

David throws in counterparts of several other familiar Marvel characters, enjoys himself toying with re-interpretations of Shakespeare, and ties everything up in satisfactory, if downbeat, fashion. This has latterly been scooped up and re-presented alongside 1602: New World in the latest collection.