Marvel Legacy #1
Written by Jason Aaron
Art by Esad Ribic, Steve McNiven, Chris Samnee, Russell Dauterman, Alex Maleev, Ed McGuinness, Stuart Immonen, Wade Von Grawbadger, Pepe Larraz, Jim Cheung, Daniel Acuna, Greg Land, Jay Leisten, Mike Deodato Jr., David Marquez and Matthew Wilson
Lettering by Cory Petit
Published by Marvel Comics
‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
Spoilers ahead for Marvel Legacy #1.
Marvel Legacy is finally here, and it actually feels like the start of a new era of Marvel comic books. Jason Aaron continues to be the unsung hero of the Marvel Universe, weaving compelling mysteries into stories with epic scale. Readers will leave this book with a lot of questions because this isn’t a book about answers. Instead, it’s about rediscovering what has made the Marvel Universe a wellspring of exciting stories over the years and helping readers understand how their favorite heroes fit into the fabric of everything especially in the wake of an event as divisive as Secret Empire.
Ambition has long been a hallmark of Jason Aaron’s work in comic books and Marvel Legacy is no different. This book is jampacked with a lot of ideas, some of them working better than others, but all of them working together to paint a broader picture of the current Marvel Universe. We open with the 1,000,000 B.C. Avengers as Aaron paints the team as a mythic concept that has taken different forms throughout history and enables him to tie current legacy heroes to the past. And that’s a clever bit. One thing that a vocal portion of the readership has decried in recent years is Marvel’s "insistence" on replacing established, largely white male characters with new characters across the race and gender spectrum. In essence, Aaron (and by proxy, Marvel) get to say “hey, even the heroes you know and love were replacements.” So while some may take that as the publisher thumbing their nose at fans, in reality, it opens up the idea of these characters as broader concepts that are much more malleable than we give them credit.
There are some head scratchers, though. Starbrand is no one’s favorite. (And before someone leaves an angry comment: If he was, the New Universe would be a thing, y’all.) But he’s seems so central to the plot even if he’s dispatched rather quickly by Robbie Reyes’ Penance Stare. (Even the book addresses the question: can Robbie do that now? Previous volumes of Ghost Rider said he couldn’t, so I guess we’ll just have to see how that shakes out. Robbie didn’t get an issue in Generations, but maybe the classic Riders could be making a comeback.)
And there are two big returns that are promising to varying degrees. At least part of the Richards family is back. (Truly, a blessing in this the 100th year of our Lord and Comics Savior, Jack Kirby.) And ol’ Canucklehead, Wolverine returns, making him the fifth Wolverine running around the Marvel Universe these days. It’s hard not to be excited about the Richards family because it jives with the idea that this “world outside [our] window” is still expanding. But Wolverine’s return feels like a return to the days where you couldn’t read a comic book without him appearing in it. It feels like a step back rather than forward because it likely strips Laura of her own legacy.
The art in this book is pretty solid all-around. Many of the art teams just get one or two pages to check in and do their thing as is the case with Chris Samnee, Russell Dauterman, and Jim Cheung. But for readers who are wondering what this Marvel not-a-reboot looks like, Marvel Legacy is a good sampling of what to expect. Esad Ribic and Steve McNiven handle the weightier parts of the narrative and they do a solid job of moving the chains here, balancing the big imagery that Aaron needs to get across to readers with the more connective tissue scenes fairly well. All in all, this one is an art jam that’s given a sense of consistency by strong coloring from Matthew Wilson as we’ve come to expect.
Legacy doesn’t fix anything. But it has promise. It has hope. It’s been a while since we’ve had anything resembling actual hope in a Marvel comic book and it’s nice to see that returning. Aaron recognizes the things that make the Marvel universe work. It’s more than heroes fighting heroes or heroes fighting villains or who wields a hammer or shield. It’s about exploration and pushing forward and charging into that great unknown to find the impossible. Marvel revolutionized comics book once upon a time and it’s clear that they want to again. Only time will tell if the creators themselves can reach the heights of their legacies.