Marvel Legacy #1
MARVEL LEGACY #1 By Jason Aaron, Steve McNIven, Esad Ribić, and Matthew Wilson
Art
Characterization
Plot
Summary
MARVEL LEGACY #1 does a great job establishing the new direction Marvel plans to take its universe. However, the comic isn't great by itself. Jason Aaron, Steve McNiven, and Esad Ribić's large comic one-shot is much more of a trailer for what's to come rather than a game-changing installment.
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MARVEL LEGACY #1 marks the start of a whole new era in Marvel Comics. This issue demonstrates Marvel’s intentions to move into a different direction with their upcoming books. This giant-sized issue by Jason Aaron, Esad Ribić, Steve McNiven and a group of others proves that Marvel plans to revive old stories and characters while also continuing to move forward with new ideas and heroes.

I have a strong feeling that MARVEL LEGACY #1 will set a brighter, centralized tone for the Marvel Universe going forward. However, I think too many people are talking about the impact that MARVEL LEGACY #1 will have and not the quality of the actual book. While there are definitely some strong stories and themes running through this comic, the issue seemingly lacks any clear focus. This has the effect of making large sections of MARVEL LEGACY #1 feel muddled and mostly pointless. Fans should absolutely pick up this book to learn about how Marvel intends to change its comic line. However, don’t expect to read a particularly fruitful standalone comic. In the upcoming paragraphs, we’ll look at some of MARVEL LEGACY #1’s strengths and weaknesses. Beware, there’s a spoiler extravaganza up ahead.

MARVEL LEGACY #1
MARVEL LEGACY #1 page 7. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Remember Your Past

The opening pages of this comic introduce us to the Avengers of 1,000,000 B.C. I thought this team was awesome ever since I learned about them from Marvel’s promotional material. They definitely push forward Marvel’s idea that most of the heroes we see are just temporary holders of a particular title. It’s inevitable that they must pass on these titles to future generations. We get to see Odin wielding Mjölnir, the first Iron Fist, and the original Sorcerer Supreme Agamotto, among other interesting takes on classic titles.

Anticipating MARVEL LEGACY #1: Past Shaping The Future

The idea of an ancient Avengers has a great syllogism when this comic turns to show the modern version of the team. This group stars Riri Williams, Jane Foster, and Sam Wilson. This is basically Marvel’s way of reminding fans that there have been so many different iterations of the Avengers and its members. Meanwhile, it also reassures fans of “legacy characters” that these diverse heroes will have a place in the future. Through all these different iterations, we see some constancy as even the Avengers of 1,000,000 B.C. still utter their version of “Avengers Assemble!”

MARVEL LEGACY
MARVEL LEGACY #1 page 19. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

The problem is that the Avengers of 1,000,000 B.C. appear and disappear too quickly to leave a lasting impression on anyone. Marvel should have made the team a central element of this comic. Instead, MARVEL LEGACY #1 primarily focuses on providing brief glimpses into the future of their universe. Then they snap to a different character or story. The comic is fifty pages long, so I feel like Marvel had the chance to do something significant. This was supposed to be Marvel’s big event book of the year but instead it feels like more of a commercial for its future titles.

Look Toward The Future

I’m not saying that MARVEL LEGACY #1 didn’t have any big reveals or strong moments. In fact, there are many to speak about. My favorite ones have to be any of the sequences involving the Fantastic Four. Marvel acknowledges in this comic that while the Four aren’t as popular as they used to be, they are still an integral part of Stan Lee’s vision for this comic book universe.

MARVEL LEGACY
MARVEL LEGACY page 33. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

It’s important to acknowledge that this comic returns Valeria and Franklin Richards to the Marvel Universe. The end of the issue reveals that Valeria was the one who had been narrating this whole time. Since Franklin was introduced in 1968, the Richard kids represent one of the first instances of legacy in Marvel. They also signify that Marvel is looking towards the future with their characters and not completely backwards.

MARVEL LEGACY Teaser Trailer Promises to Excite All Marvel Fans

Not to say that we don’t get a few callouts towards our classic Avengers. Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, and Thor Odinson all appear in a few panels of LEGACY, but only briefly. However, it looks like Marvel is positioning these three heroes to return to their titles soon.

Perhaps the biggest reveal that Marvel was saving for MARVEL LEGACY #1 is the return of none other than James “Logan” Howlett (AKA Wolverine). Now, I’m not going to lie; I was pretty excited when I saw those claws come out and rip apart a Frost Giant. I just don’t believe that Wolverine’s return has the same impact that the Fantastic Four’s will. We all knew that Logan would break out of the Adamantium encasing eventually. It doesn’t change the game as much as it repeats the classic trend of resurrecting a previously deceased character.

Marvel Rebirth

I hate to compare Marvel to DC since they are different companies with different characters. However, it’s impossible to not compare MARVEL LEGACY #1 with DC UNIVERSE: REBIRTH #1. Both are interested in the idea of legacy. These two comics signify a reestablishment of multiple characters and themes from before. They also both flash between multiple storylines and preview their new lineup of comics.

Rebirth: Restoring Legacy to DC

However, what I think that DC UNIVERSE: REBIRTH #1 gets right, and MARVEL LEGACY #1 struggles with, is establishing a through-line to hook the readers into this issue. In DC UNIVERSE: REBIRTH #1 that through-line is the return of Wally West. Wally travels across the DC Universe witnessing events and observes them. He’s also in a direct struggle to escape from the Speed Force. DC UNIVERSE: REBIRTH worked because even though it explored dozens of characters and storylines, the spotlight was always on Wally.

In theory, Valeria Richards serves the Wally West role in MARVEL LEGACY #1. She narrates the whole comic and comments on the characters in the universe, just as Wally does in DC Rebirth. However, we don’t realize that Valeria Richards is narrating until the final page of this issue. It’s really difficult to connect with a disconnected voice. Marvel should have shown the events of this comic through Valeria’s eyes. This would have provided the anchor point that this comic desperately needed.

Art in MARVEL LEGACY #1

Marvel did a great job bringing great artists onto this comic. While Esad Ribić and Steve McNiven are the primary pencilers, thirteen of Marvel’s most prominent artists serve as additional artists. Meanwhile, Matthew Wilson commits as the color artist by delivering such vibrant, splashy panels that we have learned to love from Marvel.

One flaw with having so many artists on this book, however, is that art is a little inconsistent. The style can rapidly change between elegant and cool to jagged and unrefined. This can be a little distracting. When the art was good, I usually had a stronger emotional response to what I was reading. For example, the beautifully rendered figures of the Human Torch and the Thing standing proudly on top of the Baxter Building could make a Fantastic Four fan cry with glee. However, when the art was mediocre, as I thought it often was in the Ghost Rider vs. Starbrand panels, I couldn’t care less about what was happening on the page.

MARVEL LEGACY #1
MARVEL LEGACY #1 page 8. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

I think the art particularly shines in the Avengers of 1,000,000 B.C. panels. I really love the rugged exterior visuals of the prehistoric world mixed with these unusual looking characters. When the heroes face off with the infected Celestial it’s a fantastic mix of the ancient and futurism. This might be a clever nod to the direction that MARVEL LEGACY is taking: it will continue to push forward without forgetting the past.

Final Thoughts

I totally understand why MARVEL LEGACY #1 will thrill Marvel fans with its big reveals. There’s a lot to love from these 50 pages. I’m also extremely excited with what Marvel plans to do with their future comics. However, after reading this particular issue, I have to admit I was a bit disappointed. I believe Marvel makes the mistake of thinking that more plot adds up to make a good story. Marvel hasn’t lacked a plethora of plot heavy issues (see SECRET EMPIRE or CIVIL WAR II). So I don’t want any more convoluted storylines, but instead more comics where I can really connect with the characters.

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What I truly wanted out of MARVEL LEGACY was a thoughtful story about the meaning of legacy. I think that the GENERATIONS one-shots excelled in creating a sentimental yet hopeful vibe for their series much more than LEGACY has. This may mean I’m dead inside (not an impossibility) or that Marvel was too concentrated on touching every section of their vast universe that they failed to truly capture what makes it so special. I’m excited to see what the future of MARVEL LEGACY brings to each character. Let us hope that in a year I’ll apologize for ever having reservations about this event. Until then, I hope that the comics in MARVEL LEGACY can be better than this.

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