Jason Aaron is no stranger to guiding the Marvel Universe and writing Marvel Comics events. But in writing Marvel Legacy #1, Aaron has a whole new challenge on his hands: moving the story of the Marvel Universe forward in a major way, but doing it in just one issue instead of a miniseries-long event.
Marvel Legacy #1 will set up Marvel's "Legacy" initiative, which returns many classic Marvel titles to their original issue numbering and is intended to renew Marvel's focus on its history and its huge library of classic characters and stories.
For Aaron, that means forging the Marvel Universe ahead in a way that honors the creations that came before, while also setting the stage for the next era of the publisher's line. To do that, he's teamed up with a litany of all-star artists - including his former Thor: God of Thunder collaborator Esad Ribic and current Mighty Thor artist Russell Dauterman - and created a narrative that takes readers through Marvel history all the way from the Stone Age Marvel Universe to the present day.
Newsarama spoke with Aaron just a week out from Marvel Legacy #1's September 27 release to discuss what "Legacy" means to him, the 1,000,000 B.C. Avengers, and the mysterious returning character at the heart of the one-shot - and, how Marvel Legacy #1 sets up Aaron's next big project.
Newsarama: Jason, a lot has been said about what “Legacy” is about, but as one of the people defining that, what does it mean to you? And by extension, how does that come through in Marvel Legacy #1?
Jason Aaron: You’ll probably get a different reply to that from each creator you ask. I don’t think it has to boil down to one simple answer. For me, in terms of all the stuff I’m doing, and most especially the Marvel Legacy #1 one-shot, it’s about honoring the rich history of Marvel Comics, honoring the amazing roster of characters and all the ridiculously imaginative creators who’ve worked on them over the years and whose broad shoulders I’m lucky enough to get to stand on every day. But at the same time it’s about taking these characters and doing something new and exciting with them, taking them somewhere they haven’t been before.
I think that’s always the challenge when you’re working with characters who have been in continuous publication for over 50 years. How do you do something new while also honoring the past? That to me is what “Legacy” is about. It’s not about just putting big numbers back on the covers. It’s not about picking the bones of those classic stories from the past. It’s about acknowledging those stories, and playing with all the insanely amazing toys those classic creators left behind in the toybox, while using all those tools to tell the biggest, craziest new stories we can.
Nrama: How does Marvel Legacy #1 fit into the Marvel Universe as a whole?
Aaron: Marvel Legacy #1 is a huge primer for everything coming up in the Marvel Universe. We’ll touch base with more characters than I can count – more characters than I’ve ever written in one book at one time, that’s for sure. And it’s very much about the past, present, and future of the Marvel Universe. All three.
We dig deep into the past, to the Stone Age, to a previously unseen prologue to the Marvel Universe as we know it, that will ultimately prove pivotal to understanding why the Marvel U is the way it is. We visit the present day, touching base with basically every major character around the Marvel Universe. We’ll see a lot of the different versions of those characters – both Captains America, the different Thors and such. We give you a roadmap for the current landscape of the Marvel U.
Then there’s stuff that points toward the future. In the Legacy one-shot, the groundwork is laid for a few different stories that will spread out through the other books of the Marvel U in the months to come in a very big way - including the next new thing that I’ll be doing.
Nrama: You mentioned going back to the past, and I assume you’re talking about the 1,000,000 B.C. Avengers – Iron Fist, the Phoenix, Agamotto, Odin, Ghost Rider, Starbrand, and Black Panther. How did you decide on the line-up for that team?
Aaron: It’s a pretty easy list to come up with when you start thinking about the biggest, longest running legacy characters in the Marvel Universe. How do you put together the Caveman Avengers? Which, let me tell you, is a question I was really excited to ask. And the answer came together pretty quickly.
I’ve obviously done a lot of stuff with Odin in the pages of Thor, but he’s mostly been an antagonist for his son and for Jane Foster – which is a role he’s played a lot over the years. But one of the cool things about writing gods is that they’ve been around for so long, through a lot of different eras and incarnations. And as I’ve done with Thor, where I did stories of very different versions of Thor Odinson at various points in his life, I like the idea of exploring a different sort of Odin, at a very different period in his very long life. We get to see Odin do things we haven’t seen him do before. He was the first member I knew I wanted on this prehistoric superteam.
The other pieces of the team then fell into place quickly. I liked the Phoenix being a part of it, as well as Iron Fist – those seemed like no-brainers. I liked getting back into writing Ghost Rider. Ghost Rider was one of the first characters I had a big run on at Marvel. And Starbrand is a character we don’t see too much of these days, but who was a big part of Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers. He plays a big part in this one-shot in a couple of different eras.
There’s a reason each one of these characters is there, and there are storylines set in motion here in prehistoric times that will have ramifications for the present day counterparts of those characters.
Nrama: So I take it that means we’ll be seeing the 1,000,000 B.C. Avengers again?
Aaron: Yes, we’ll definitely see them again in a huge way. This one-shot is very much a self-contained story in and of itself. As much as I can possibly make it so. That was one of my main objectives. It’s not just a prelude to something else – I wanted it to feel meaty and satisfying on its own, so there’s big stuff that happens just within these pages. But the Prehistoric Avengers will definitely be seen again. This is the beginning of a story that will play out in the months to come – I just can’t tell you where yet.
Nrama: The solicitation for Marvel Legacy #1 mentions a return that readers have been “longing for.” What can you tell us about what that means? What have readers been longing for that’s returning in Legacy?
Aaron: There’s a specific character that’s returning, but I can’t spoil anything about that.
As for what readers have been longing for, I don’t presume to be able to answer that. My job is pretty simple - I write stories ultimately for myself. That’s all I can control. I don’t write stories to please one group of people or another - I write stories I want to read, and I’m lucky enough that some of the most amazing artists in the world are tasked with drawing them.
Nrama: Fair enough. I’ll reframe that slightly – as a fan of Marvel, what have you been longing for that Marvel Legacy #1 will bring back?
Aaron: I’m not sure there’s a specific thing I’m trying to bring back to Marvel. Because I think Marvel is so much bigger than any one kind of story or character, and I’m really proud and happy about the rich diversity of titles that you see on the shelves these days. I guess I’m trying to tell the same kind of story I always wanna tell - stories that are big, insane, emotionally relevant and above all else, fun. There’s not a lot of “fun” when you turn on the news these days, regardless of your politics. There’s a lot of ugliness in the world today. I think it’s important that comics not turn a blind eye to that, that we continue to reflect the world outside our window as much as we can. But at the same time, I think it’s important now more than ever that we give readers stories that are hopeful, that make us look up to the skies in wonder again and dream of better worlds.
Nrama: Aside from that one major return, you said you’ve written more characters in Marvel Legacy #1 than you ever have before. Are there any of your favorite characters you snuck in? Who do you think people will want more of based on this one-shot?
Aaron: Hopefully it’ll be like that with the 1,000,000 B.C. Avengers, who are all new versions of the characters we know and love. Hopefully people will want to see more of them, because I’ve already started writing more of them.
Beyond that, there’s a lot going on here. There are a lot of characters getting involved in the action. I liked making Jane Foster, Sam Wilson, and Riri Williams a big part of this, as a team. And I liked writing Robbie Reyes, a version of Ghost Rider I haven’t written before. And of course the Deadpool bit was pretty wickedly fun.
There’s a lot of stuff like that in there - characters I haven’t written in a long time, or ones I’ve never written before, interacting in new ways.
Nrama: You’ve written some big events for Marvel before, but Marvel Legacy #1 is very different because it’s a single issue that tells a complete story. How do you approach telling a story on that same world-changing level in a single issue instead of a whole series?
Aaron: It’s a lot to juggle, honestly. A lot of different characters to wrangle and find a voice for. There’s a lotta big crazy stuff going on in this book. But that was always the goal for Marvel Legacy #1, for this single issue to still be a complete story.
And we’ve got this amazing murderer’s row of artists lined up on it too. It’s really a beautiful book, and I get to work with a long list of people I’ve never worked with before and have always wanted to. The whole experience has been beautifully wild.
Nrama: With so many artists working on Marvel Legacy #1, did you try to tailor each individual scene to the person drawing it?
Aaron: That’s not really something I do anyway. No matter which artist I’m working with I always just try to leave things open enough in the script that whoever the artist is they can bring their own voice and style to the table.
I think, in terms of this issue, this story, to have so many different artists involved actually works and makes story sense. We’re dealing with a lot of different characters, a lot of corners of the Marvel Universe. So if you’re going to do a page focusing on, say, Thor Odinson, it makes sense to have Russell Dauterman, the artist on The Mighty Thor, drawing that scene.
Nrama: Are there any of those artists that we can expect to see you working with in the future? Aside from Russell Dauterman who will continue drawing Mighty Thor, of course.
Aaron: Yes. As a matter of fact, yeah. I can’t tell you who it is, of course, or where that will be, but I am going to be working with one of those artists on my next big thing. But I suppose that’s all I can say about that. Other than that, I continue to be as excited as a kid in a candy store when it comes to my job.