Marvel’s legacy, the relationship between its past and its future, has been the topic of much discussion over the last few years. The statuses of new and old characters, renumbering versus original numbering, and line-wide events versus self-contained stories have been at the core of much vehement debate. This week’s Marvel Legacy #1 brings these questions to the forefront, and stars both Marvel’s current pantheon and a brand new set of champions from before the dawn of modern man. More importantly than any of the above, however, is one question: is it good?
(Full disclosure: the advanced reading copy of the issue I received omitted the last fifth or so of the overall page count. With this in mind, I’ll be speaking primarily on the issue’s beginning and middle portions.)
The issue begins with a flashback to the Avengers of 1,000,000 B.C. I was skeptical back when this plot thread was announced a few months ago, but having seen the group in action, I’m a fan. This is in large part due to the line-up. Seeing Odin as his own central character and not just a father or ruling figure for others to bounce off of is a nice change of pace. Marvel Legacy‘s version of the Phoenix is also intriguing, as she is very familiar yet mysterious at the same time. Artist Esad Ribic does a fantastic job rendering her visually, with smoke and flame-tinged movements that strongly convey an ancient, godlike being. The ancient versions of Ghost Rider and Black Panther are fun as well.
I would argue that the scene with the Avengers of 1,000,000 B.C. is not only a strong opening for the issue, but also its best part. The events within it feel the least telegraphed, and there is a legitimately unexpected (and satisfying) twist regarding the threat they find themselves up against. Ribic delivers great line-work here, with an airy style containing just enough fine detail to make the world depicted feel real but not overdrawn and heavy. The variety in compositional choices in nice, as is the work of colorist Matthew Wilson. Wilson takes already strong artwork and elevates it with smooth gradients of color to create a mysterious but beautiful world.
Once the issue switches to the present day, however, things get a bit less satisfactory. A lot of page time is devoted to a battle between the modern-day versions of Ghost Rider and Star Brand. Unfortunately, little of that time fleshes out either character. Rather, their interactions consist almost entirely of Star Brand making vague proclamations about how significant this issue’s events are, while Ghost Rider reacts with little more than confusion. Star Brand’s monologues feel too much like overblown solicitations for my taste. The marketing campaign for this issue already told me what a huge deal it was going to be; I don’t need a C-list character to repeat this claim nearly as often as occurs in this issue.
Various other characters get time in the spotlight, to varying degrees of success. Captain America (Sam Wilson), Ironheart, and Thor (Jane Foster) join together to battle Loki’s forces, and writer Jason Aaron handles the interplay between their personalities quite well. There’s also a charming interaction between Doctor Strange and Iron Fist, calling back to their ancient selves from the issue’s opening scene. Deadpool and Norman Osborn, on the other hand, appear for seemingly no reason. It’s clear that they will play significant roles as this story plays out, but in the context of Marvel Legacy #1 as a standalone issue their contributions feel miniscule and unnecessary. Deadpool’s scene is particularly hindered by overly expositional dialogue in which characters’ lines just don’t feel believable. It’s like the writing is pointing at certain plot events with neon signs marked “SIGNIFICANT” rather than building a sense of significance into the events themselves.
Overall, Marvel Legacy #1 is enjoyable. Fantastic artwork and coloration, paired with the plot’s more promising aspects, make the issue worth checking out. Unfortunately, though not necessarily unsurprisingly, the issue doesn’t live up to its solicitations’ hype. There is just way too much clunky dialogue present for this issue to be great, and several characters are questionably utilized. If you’re heavily invested in following all of Marvel’s major events, or really like the ancient Avengers concept, then I would recommend buying this issue. Otherwise, the $5.99 price-tag is quite steep given the issue’s flaws.