Everyone knows about Marvel 1602, right? Written by Neil Gaiman and set in the Elizabethan Era – pretty much a match made in heaven! It was a big seller for Marvel, so, of course, several spin-offs (NOT written by Neil Gaiman) were launched to capitalize on its popularity. This particular book follows the contingent of heroes left in America after the events of the original miniseries - mainly focusing on the Hulk and Spider-Man.
Sir Iron threatens Peter Parquagh on the pier. Governor Dare aims a musket (or is it a blunderbuss?) at them but Sir Iron is too fast and dodges the shot. It does, however, knock Jonah, who was standing beside Peter, to the ground. Then, Osborn and the militia show up. Sir Iron says their guns won't hurt him but they fire anyway. He uses his armor to protect Peter and even Governor Dare but he still gets hit in the leg (Governor Dare, not Sir Iron). Osborn tells the men to cease fire and Sir Iron implores them to yield. Then, he gives Peter a shock that incapacitates him while he deals with Osborn and the other men. He wields an electrified sword and quickly scatters them. The militiamen try to retreat but Captain Ross and his men are at their flank. Quickest battle ever!
They parlay. Osborn asks who Captain Ross is. He says he serves King James. Then Osborn asks, why is he aligned with Witchbreed, and a Spanish one to boot? Captain Ross replays that Sir Iron is not Witchbreed and that the English are no longer at war with Spain. He then asks who is Osborne's master? Osborn equivocates and says the King, of course. While they go back and forth, Governor Dare urges Peter to leave, and reveals he knows about Peter's powers.
There is a perfunctory trial of Governor Dare for rebellion against the Crown. Osborn acts as an advisor to Captain Ross. He tries to blunt his patron's wrath but is not successful. Jonah says if Governor Dare is found to be a traitor then they all are as the entire colony voted on independence. Dare says if anyone is guilty it is only he that lead his followers astray. Meanwhile, the women and children are outside being interrogated by Sir Iron. He wants to find Peter, whom he believes will lead him to Banner. Virginia Dare warns him that Banner will rip him apart. Before Sir Iron can protest, Captain Ross emerges and summarily announces that Governor Dare will be beheaded at dawn for treason. Virginia gets upset and begins to transform into a wolf. Peter comes out of the well he was hiding in to stop her. He reminds her that she can't control herself when she transforms and convinces her that he can save her father without her help.
Virginia still has reservations that Peter can do it alone, however. Sometime later, she gets Sir Iron's attention by pretending to makes a deal with him – she will lead him to Banner in exchange for her father's safety. Captain Ross, however, says Sir Iron doesn't have the right to make deals. He instead orders him to hunt for Dougan, Nick Fury's man.
Later that night, Osborn speaks to Captain Ross privately and reveals his true goal – he wants to uncover the singularity that gave Banner and Peter their powers. He shares with Captain Ross that he thinks the Indians are hiding it. Captain Ross agrees that if it exists, it must be found and destroyed. (Although it is plain that Osborn has other ideas – he wants the power it can bestow all for himself.) Captain Ross declares that he and his men will attack the Indians after Govenor Dare is beheaded tomorrow morning. Peter, hiding outside the window, hears all of this, and lands at the table Osborn and Captain Ross just left and grabs some leftover cloth.
Meanwhile, Dougan's men (remember them?) have met up with their captain. Dougan tells them to watch out for Osborn but it is actually Captain Ross's men that find them. Before the two groups can fight each other they are swept off their feet by a speeding figure. Their savior? “Call me... The Spider.” Yes, Peter has made a Spider-Man mask (just like the original complete with webbing and black eye sockets) and a blue and gold tunic with a stylized spider on the front, along with a shirt of striped red and blue. Dougan says he looks more like a monkey. His men get in on the act too, calling him The Flea. Peter tells Dougan about the English soldiers overthrowing the colony and their plan to behead Governor Dare. Dougan, of course, is all in on fighting them.
Elsewhere, Virginia Dare has led Sir Iron and Rhodey to the burnt-out Indian village. She reveals that she is going to kill him if he doesn't foreswear (is that a real word?) his allegiance to the English. Sir Iron laughs in her face and reveals that he doesn't really like the English anyway!
Meanwhile, in an underground cavern Banner lies on the ground next to the Indian cheiftess, Mariaoc. We see take a peak inside Banner's head and see a man shackled to a wall and another man menacingly holding a sword before him. This segues into Rhodey explaining to Virginia Dare that Antonio Stark was captured by the English during the recent war with Spain and was tortured in order to get him to reveal the secrets of his technological wizardry. And who did the torturing? Bruce Banner, of course! Now we return to Banner's dream where get a glimpse of men being executed by hanging, beheading, and burning. You know, the usual.
Banner wakes up with a start. Mariaoc explains to him that the English are going to attack her people and she needs his help. Banner, back in his self loathing mode, wants to give up and let his enemies kill him. He says he's done too many terrible things. The chieftess reminds him of his many good acts as the Hulk. Banner counters by saying that really wasn't him. He tries to leave, but she asks him what he is so afraid of? Banner says there is a monster inside of him, but Mariaoc counters that the monster is actually the good part of him trying to get out. We don't see the rest of their conversation but the next morning the Indians arrive outside the colony's palisade. The tribe's warriors are arriving on the beach by canoe, and the Hulk is standing there with them.
Each character is embracing their destiny, but will it be good or bad for them in the end?
It's been slow going, but some momentous decisions have finally been made and the battle lines have clearly been drawn. It all depends on how well everything is ties together in the final chapter of this saga.
The Anglo-Spanish War (1885-1604) was one of an interminable line of European religious wars between Protestants (in this case the English and Dutch) and Catholics (in this case the Spanish and Irish) with a little royal succession drama thrown in for good measure. It is notable for the English defeat of the formidable Spanish Armada in 1588. It was also the conflict that saw Sir Francis Drake's fortune rise when he completed the second circumnavigation of the globe during the course of his many pirating raids on the Spanish.