Marvel Bringing One Of Their Greatest What If? Stories Ever To Life

By Jeffrey Rapaport | Published

What If The Watcher

What if…Marvel announced its upcoming season of the What If series would include a very special 1602-inspired episode—and did so on Instagram? Indeed, they have. The episode is entitled “What if The Avengers Assembled in 1602?” and should be an exciting development for the animated series on Disney+, a streaming show known for exploring alternative timelines and scenarios in the MU. Look out for the episode on December 27.

Marvel 1602 Is the Eighth Episode Of What If Season 2

The narrative behind this episode will stem from the MU alternative history comic penned by none other than Neil Gaiman. The comic was initially published in 2003. 

Fans of the original Marvel 1602 comic will remember Gaiman’s take on the reimagined year 1602 in which iconic, beloved characters like Nick Fury, Doctor Strange, and Spider-Man populated a universe governed by a healthy dose of magic, intrigue, and machiavellian politics. The blend of historical elements and Marvel hallmarks in 1602 resonated strongly with critics and fans alike. 

The Avengers Set In The 17th Century

Highlights include the unique version of Marvel characters adapted to fit in the 17th century, Colonial-America era setting. Mutants, for instance, are referred to as “witchbreeds” and “superhumans,” while recognizable landmarks and characters—Latveria or Count Von Doom—find themselves recast memorably into the early modern period. 

Hela’s MCU Return

The animated feature should offer an engaging combination of supernatural and steampunk elements. Reportedly, Empress Hela, alongside a 1602 version of the Destroyer plus her legion of Yellow Jacket soldiers, will function as the episode’s baddies. Expect a visually rich experience strengthened by the narrative quality of Gaiman’s influence. 

Neil Gaiman’s 1602 Series

As a comic book series, Marvel 1602 is a unique creation. The acclaimed writer—whose hits also include SandmanGood Omens, and American Gods—conceived the comic along with artist Andy Kubert. The eight-issue limited series took what could easily have been tacky, “jump-the-shark” misadventure for Marvel and delivered a convincing and legitimate addition to the MU canon. 

Marvel was the first to approach Gaiman, asking him if he had any ideas for a project set in the distant past. Fortunately for Marvel, it turned out that the author was fascinated by the Elizabethan period. No surprise, then, that he set the Marvel tale 1602, the epoch dominated, in American and British history by the early stages of the American Colonies and the reign of Queen Elizabeth.

Gaiman’s narrative prowess and Kubert’s top-notch aesthetic made for a unique project unmissable for fans of brainy and imaginative fiction and superhero content alike. 

Fans Praise Marvel 1602 And It’s Unique Stories

The plot begins with mysterious weather changes roiling Europe, and bizarre happenings eventually connected with the appearance of superheroes. Nicholas Fury serves as the Queen’s spymaster while an incarnation of Doctor Strange functions as the Queen’s physician. Peter Parquagh (Peter Parker, of course) features heavily and Professor X reappears as Carlos Javier. 

Marvel 1602 earned critical claim upon its release; reviewers adored its originality, the high quality of its storytelling, and the excellent visuals. Gaiman, in particular, was lauded for his work’s historical accuracy and the thought-provoking integration of superheroes in a convincingly historical context.