The murky story of 1602 continues. Sir Nicholas Fury, sworn servant to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, has been following his plans to aid the nation in this time of much peril. He has dispatched his agent to meet the Old Man, the Head of the Templars. He now goes to meet Carlos Javier, head of a school for the "children of gentlefolk".
Meanwhile, Miss Virgina Dare has arrived from the colonies...
Fury meets Javier, and his five students. He admires their strange powers, but understands that while Carlos will act to help the state this time, his true loyalty lies with the "Witchbreed" who form his uncannily powered students.
Meanwhile, the blind minstrel Matthew is in Lombardy, on his journey to the east, accompanied by another of Fury's agents - Natasha. Their motivations are different, but their journey's goal is the same. Matthew tells of how he gained his strange powers, and how he works now for gold. Natasha's powers are unrevealed, but she works for Fury because he saved her honour after she was widowed. But neither realises they are tracked by servants of Count Otto Von Doom.
Checkpoint here. We're several pages in, and plots are afoot. There're heaps happening on a big scale. But on the small scale, there are no fights, and no urgent moments. I trust Gaiman to write a well-paced tale here, and he certainly has plenty of characters to develop. But I can understand how a few readers might start to get itchy, hoping for some fast-paced action. Well, you just have to accept that this is going to be one of those beautifully painted, carefully scripted tales which doesn't always pander to those looking for a "Hollywood action movie" type pace. So just chill!
Meanwhile, King James is visited by the agent of the Spanish Inquisitor, DomDaniel. Part of the fun of this comic is working out which characters map to which in the Marvel universe. Clearly, Petros and Wanda are Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, and they work for DomDaniel who must hence be Magneto, although he shows no signs of powers yet. Magneto works for the inquisition, but he uses witchbreed. But his distant ally, King James (of Scotland, you ignoramuses!) despised witchbreed.
So the main camps we have so far are: Elizabeth and Fury. They're trying to save the world. Virginia (and her loyal servant Rohjaz) are pretty much on Elizabeth's side, though they have the independence of coming from the colonies. Carlos Javier and his forces will aid Elizabeth, though they stay a little independent. Doctor Stephen Strange is similar. Peter (Parker) is Fury's loyal valet. Matthew/Daredevil & Natasha/Black Widow work for Fury for money and loyalty respectively. Hey, that's quite a lot of guys on the white hats team!
Against them, we have Von Doom's forces seeking the object of power that Fury seeks. But while Fury wants to save England, Doom probably has other plans. Plus, there's the Spanish/Scottish alliance who seem to just hate Witchbreed, and goodness knows how they're going to come out on all this. The chief Spanish agent, DomDaniel, may actually be a pro-witchbreed guy in disguise.
So, that's the batting order. To get back to the story, Virginia Dare gets invited to meet the Queen, and we realise that her hulking Indian bodyguard, Rohjaz, is actually Captain America. "Rogers". Get it? Heh, it amused me. But I still haven't figure out who Virginia is. She has blond hair, and big blue eyes. She looks a little like Storm, but then again maybe not.
Anyhow, the enemy forces are on the attack. Fury asks Carlos Javier to help him understand what's going on. The first one struck last issue, and looks like perhaps a Scorpion type. His two fellows have yet to attack. One is to assassinate Ms. Dare, and the other, the Queen.
The first is a Vulture type, and he flies down at the castle, grabbing Virginia. Rohjaz manages to KO him with a large serving dish (heh, just like a shield), but when he falls to the ground, there's no sign of his hostage, Virgina. Strangely, she seems to have turned into a giant eagle...
Not a lot of action yet, but in the meantime, there's plenty of character development, and lots of great fun trying to guess who is whom. Now, there are only six issues left to go here, so I'd imagine that the pace would pick up pretty soon. Until then, of course, we can just check out the great artwork by Andy Kubert.
Still great stuff, but hopefully we're coming to the end of the scene-setting, and we can get back onto the main plotline? Still, it's well worth four webs.