It’s easy to look at a book like “Spider-Man 1602” and wonder why it exists. What’s the point of telling stories involving 17th century versions of characters that we’re familiar with and can read about now? The finale to this series provides a pretty easy answer: it allows for Marvel to publish a pretty entertaining, light-hearted action comic written by Jeff Parker and drawn by Ramon Rosanas where the two of them can just go out and have fun with these ideas. “Spider-Man 1602” isn’t going to win an Eisner for best limited series, but it is an amusing and enjoyable read.
This week’s final issue has Peter Parquagh, the Spider, in Venice, rescuing the Watsonne family from the clutches of Baron Octavius and the natural philosopher in his employ, Henri le Pym, who is charged with finding a cure to Octavius’s mutated physical condition. At the end of last issue, Octavius revealed himself an octopus-like being that has decided to revel in his existence and destroys le Pym’s cure, while all that stands between Peter and the Watsonne family, and the evil clutches of the lizard-like Connors and the Goblin is some webbing. With that set-up in place, Parker and Rosanas spend the entire issue allowing things to play out in a dynamic, fun manner.
There aren’t a lot of surprises in this issue as earlier characters from the series are called back to and le Pym’s drinking of his cure for Octavius has the exact results you would expect, but the execution is confident and strong. Events move at a brisk pace, never slowing down enough for you to worry that they’re somewhat predictable. It’s very much like a period film that relies on modern techniques and familiar plot points, but with a great cast and solid script to keep things fresh and entertaining.
Rosanas’ clean, dynamic art helps in this area greatly as he uses a lot of thin, diagonal panels to convey that sense of movement and excitement. His characters move with ease and a strong fluidity. The style is suited to the period as it’s a little antiquated, a little retro, and the coloring helps with its slightly muted, reddish tones.
The character designs in this series have been top-notch from the dinosaur- and bat-influenced Lizard and Goblin to Octavius, probably Rosanas’ best design of the series. Glimpses of the humanoid octopus are seen in the preview pages, but he’s more impressive when seen in full after previous issues where he donned a Mr. Quimper-esque outfit. There’s a lot of charm in Rosanas’ art.
“Spider-Man 1602” #5 wraps up this fun and light series strongly with a lot of action and adventure, though the final pages push the ‘cutesy’ envelope a bit far. Otherwise, if you just want an entertaining adventure comic to read, this book does the job ably.