07/11/15 | by Ryan Utterback
| Posted in
Comic reviews, Reviews
Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artist: Nik Virella
When the list of tie-ins for Secret Wars was announced, I was immediately intrigued by 1872, an Old West take on some of Marvel’s biggest heroes. After reading the first issue, my intrigue has turned into genuine anticipation to get my hands on the next chapter of this story. This story is set in the town of Timely, a nod to the precursor to Marvel Comics, where we see many familiar characters – Mayor Wilson Fisk, Sheriff Steven Rogers, town doctor Bruce Banner, and alcoholic ex-gunmaker Tony Stark, and is narrated by local reporter Ben Urich.
Sheriff Rogers responds to an attempted lynching of an Indian known as Red Wolf, who has been accused by some of Fisk’s men of trying to destroy a dam. Rogers saves Red Wolf’s life, but takes him to jail to stand trial for the crime he’s been accused of. Fisk pays Rogers a visit to try and get him to turn Red Wolf over, a request Rogers denies, refusing to give into Fisk’s attempt at intimidation.
Shortly after the conversation between Fisk and Sheriff Rogers, Fisk’s men come to Timely and one of them holds Stark at gunpoint. The thugs are quickly dispatched by Rogers and Stark, however, and Rogers orders their corpses to hang in the center of the town as a message to Fisk. Rogers’s plans seems to have backfired, however, as the issue closes with the arrival of Bullseye, Elektra, Grizzly, and Owl, who are apparently there at the behest of Mayor Fisk and Governor Roxxon.
In this premiere issue, writer Gerry Duggan has created an alternate universe that offers a fresh take on iconic characters. The issue is chock full of references to the Marvel universe we know and love – such as the deceased Deputy Barnes, a bottle of Wolverine Whiskey, and a mention of Ben Parker’s widow. While I don’t expect this series to have any lasting impact beyond the scope of this summer’s Secret Wars event, that doesn’t detract from its allure. This is a fun ride for fans of Marvel and fans of the Western genre.
Admittedly, this is the first book I’ve read that features the art of Nik Virella (that I know of), but I am impressed by both his character designs and his backgrounds, both of which evoke the familiar aesthetic that typify Spaghetti Westerns. Colorist Lee Loughridge is also to be commended for his contribution to this signature style as well.