Comic book fans familiar with the Marvel superheroes (X-Men, Captain America, Spiderman etc) will appreciate this novel take on the series. All of these superheroes, among others, live in the same universe. In this 7 volume set, that world is set in the late Elizabethan era of 1602 during the Spanish Inquisition, the death of Queen Elizabeth and the transfer of the crown to King Charles of Scotland.
This book is full of history, mystery, and conspiracy. (I meant that to rhyme!). The illustrations are mesmerizing, and Neil Gaiman’s quick wit and brevity of dialogue keeps the pace of the book moving rapidly as plans unfurl and plots are foiled and villains and heroes are muddled with each other. There are a number of different storylines going on at the same time, but they all end up overlapping at some point. Although most of what I know about the X-Men & other superheroes come from the Saturday morning cartoons I used to watch as a kid, I got really into the world Gaiman created. It seemed somehow more natural for there to be mutants with superpowers at a time when the entire world was deeply mired in religion and miracles.
The only element that didn’t fit with the flow was the revelation of Captain America, and the how and why he is in 1602, before America was really America. It felt forced, kind of shoved in the book. The transitions to and from this story where not very clean. Other than that, it is a great read which I highly recommend.