by Matt Puddy
With the fracturing and remaking of worlds, it is inevitable that the new regions will spread far and wide, and diversity will thrive. 1872 features the town of Timely in the Valley of Doom, a neatly tucked away oasis of the Wild Wild West. Readers of Age of Ultron vs Marvel Zombies may recognise this location, as Hank Pym has his workshop based in the town. For all intensive purposes, the backwater modesty carries over from his demeanour to the general feel of the whole town.
The first thing the reader is given is an old map of Timely, giving you an idea of who's in town. All of the fan favourites are under their own names, or assumed pseudonyms, as subtle hat tips (Mr Fixit’s Apothecary is my favourite). It’s a nice little establishing touch.
Gerry Duggan’s story opens with an American Indian achieving what many thought was impossible - crossing the desert without aid - only to run into bigotry. The chain of events opens up the cast further to show off the local lawman Steve Rogers alongside the town's drunk, sorry weaponsmith, Tony Stark. Whilst upholding the law is the right thing to do, here it only creates more issues. The racism in this town runs deeper than just colour of skin. In this case it runs right into the pockets of the town’s most influential man, Wilson Fisk, whose interests in the Roxxon silver mine taints everything around them.
Whilst moving through the town other well known members of the Marvel Universe are seen, such as Bruce Banner and Ben Urich. There are also mentions of Peter Parker and depictions of Vision and Black Widow; the gang is all here.
When all else fails though, Governor Roxxon calls in the big guns. A stranger walks into town; a deadly man, a man with a bullseye on his forehead...
I’m not a fan of westerns, but you have to love having depictions of every day Marvel characters completely out of their normal attire and motivations. This is further helped by Nik Virella’s visualisations, with their most frequently seen qualities and identifiers being built into their whole look with subtle touches. We see Rogers' shield used as his sheriff's badge, and Banner with his gamma tonic.
There is a really interesting twist being played out here with all of our players returned to basics. Gone are the powers and the gadgets, the magic and the adornments. It’s all down to the moral fibre and ability of an old school fight.
With the Secret Wars/Battleworld split separating out many different aspects of the Marvel Universe, there are several arenas for readers to delve into the continuing fight. This is another with all the quirks and individualities of a time long passed but clearly not forgotten. We're seeing their world in a new light, which could make this an interesting one to follow.