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 showcases Spider-Man's adventures after returning to Europe following the events related in 1602: The New World.
The last we saw Peter, he was starting on a voyage. He has booked passage on the good ship Mayflower (with a certain Captain Stacey) and is writing a letter to his departed love, Virginia Dare. First, the ship goes through a calm spell for days on end. Then, it gets caught in a fierce storm. Through all these events, Osborne (locked in the brig) uses his wiles to turn the crew against Peter, claiming that the boy is cursed. Meanwhile, Peter keeps himself occupied by reading to the crew, working on the rigging, and writing for the captain's log.
Eventually, the crew succumbs to Osborne's lies and attack Peter on the deck. (Sailors are apparently ever bit as superstitious and cowardly a lot as criminals are!) Before they can seize him and throw him overboard, however, a pirate ship appears alongside them! It's the demon skipper known as the King's Pin! (And, yes he's a big, fat, bald guy). He also has a familiar looking first mate – Bull's Eye.
The pirates shoot their cannons at the ship, and Peter manages to snag one of the cannon balls and whips it back at the pirates. This rallies the men just as the pirate crew boards the ship. Peter grabs a sword and leads the charge. He leaps and jumps and takes out several pirates all by himself. Then, he runs up against Bull's Eye, who is a lot more deadlier. Bull's Eye shoots several arrows but Peter easily dodges his attack and webs him up. Finally, he takes the battle directly to the King's Pin. He kicks him overboard, dumping him in the water. He even makes a crack about leviathans living in the water (that's a fat joke, people). The men change their minds about Peter after seeing his skills and bravery in combat. The King's Pin has a different view of things, however, and vows to revenge himself upon Peter and heads to their eventual port of arrival – Narbonne, France.
The rest of the trip is uneventful. Once the ship is in port, Captain Stacy shows Peter some hidden cargo – dinosaur eggs from the New World! The captain explains that they are for a wealthy patron who wants them for his experiments (uh oh). He says Peter has proven himself trustworthy and powerful enough to safeguard them so he hires him as to deliver the contraband. The eggs are loaded onto a wagon and away he goes.
While the eggs are being loaded into the wagon, Peter drops off Osborne to the local gendarmes. Osborn's face was terribly mutilated during the sea battle and Peter says the world will now see him for the goblin he truly is (double uh oh). Finally, Peter burns the letter he was writing, saying he wants to let Virginia be free of this world completely. He looks ahead now to the future...
Or hero is amassing quite a group of grudges already! I like how Osborne is evil to the core and the slow build up to whatever he will become. The Kingpin as a pirate is a masterful interpretation, as well. It would have been nice, however, if the writer had kept the identity of “the wealthy patron” a secret until next issue, so readers would have gotten a more surprising reveal of Dr. Octopus.
This is mostly all action issue, so not much to be said. The plot is moving along nicely, but we can see some upcoming opponents clearly telegraphed – namely the Green Goblin and Lizard!
For those who may think I'm coming down too hard on Europeans for their exploitation of the Indians, here's an nice example of Europeans being jerks to other Europeans...
The Golden Age of Piracy is commonly ascribed to the years 1650 through 1725. The steady transportation of gold and silver from the New World to Spain was always a tempting target for English and French buccaneers (who were, of course, tacitly backed by their own governments). European nations eventually assembled naval forces strong enough to fight back against these sea-born marauders, but only after a concentrated effort at destroying their many “safe havens” - the island of Tortuga being the most famous one. Unlike its most common depiction in popular culture, piracy took place not only in the Caribbean Sea but also all along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea and throughout the Indian Ocean from the Gulf of Arabia to Southeast Asia.