One of the strangest aspects of Marvel’s exhaustingly controversial Secret Empire event was the Vanishing Point, which transported 10 legacy characters to moments in the past or future where they could interact with the heroes from whom they got their superhero identities. The Vanishing Point was explained away as a gift from the sentient Cosmic Cube that was Kobik, but in retrospect, it seems more like a gift from Marvel Comics to fans outraged over Nick Spencer’s handling of Captain America. And diversity, of course.
Whether or not this was actually the case, I can’t help but read the Generations complete collection and think that these one-shots starring classic characters and their youthful replacements were designed to shut up whiny readers. And I could talk more about these moronic fans (who I’m going to assume are primarily older white males) or how Marvel was too apologetic over the Secret Empire backlash, but just reminiscing about it all is raising my blood pressure… so let’s just focus on this Generations trade paperback, shall we?
As we’re dealing with a collection of 10 one-shots by 10 different creative teams, quality was always going to vary across the board. And it’s likely the stories that feature the characters you love will appeal to you more than the ones with characters you’re merely familiar with. For example, I love me some Jean Grey and read Miles Morales’ monthly series, so I enjoyed their Generations stories more than those of Captain Marvel and Hawkeye. The good thing is these aren’t tales written by talent just breaking into the industry — these are written by pros like Brian Michael Bendis, Jason Aaron and Tom Taylor.So which ones were my favorites? Well, the Jean Grey-Phoenix story, of course, as I alluded to in the last paragraph. Written by X-Men Blue’s Cullen Bunn with art by one of his more skilled artistic partners R.B. Silva, this story takes place shortly before adult Jean transformed into Dark Phoenix. Mind you, this one-shot was released prior to Jean’s actual return to the Marvel Universe, so it was a refreshing tease of things to come that presented a full-powered Phoenix facing off against Galactus. Cool!
Also cool: the team-up between Wolverine and All-New Wolverine in Japan’s recent past. Neither Logan nor Laura are ones to get too mushy, so it’s fun to see them avoid figuring out why they’ve been thrust together and instead focus on the task at hand. And yes, it involves battling ninjas. Written by the always clever Tom Taylor and drawn by the super-talented Ramon Rosanas (of Astonishing Ant-Man fame–so good!), this adventure reminds readers what makes Wolverines so endearing when written right.
Slightly more emotional is Bendis and artist Ramon K. Perez’s Spider-Men adventure. Here, we get to revisit awkward teenage Peter Parker at one of the lowest points in his young career. And then there’s Miles, who almost gets himself arrested watching a younger version of himself playing with young Ganke. Smooth, Morales! You really feel for young Peter, though, and you cheer on Miles when he stands up to Pete’s supposed friends at school.The Spider-Man story ends with Miles realizing that Spidey–and everything that comes with it — belongs to Peter. We walk away believing that Miles will return home and pursue an all-new, all-different purpose. And that seems to be an overarching theme of these one-shots — young legacy heroes realizing they need to find their own identities. Again, I can’t help but feel like this was Marvel Editorial forcing these newer creations to spread their wings and fly. And since Generations‘ release last year, we’ve definitely seen a few characters change their looks and codenames. Personally, I’m all for this. These are great characters and they shouldn’t have to live in their older counterparts’ shadows. It’s also always good to see “special” events like Generations that lead to actual change.
Much like the stories in this collection, the art is hit-or-miss across the board, depending on reader preference, of course. In addition to stellar artwork from Silva and Rosanas, Mahmud Asrar (Thor), Paolo Villanelli (Ms. Marvel) and Paul Renaud (Captain America) all crush it on their stories.Other art choices are more questionable. There are four artists on the Iron Man one-shot and the different styles really make for a bumpy read, as they don’t seem to serve the story in any way.
But, despite a few mediocre stories, you’re definitely getting your money’s worth with this $34.99 collection. There are a few pages of variant covers in the back, which feature some pretty slick art from talent like Olivier Coipel and John Cassaday. And then there’s that gorgeous Alex Ross cover. I’d recommend the Generations collection to anyone who loves the idea of legacy characters or just loves fun Marvel comics, in general, as that’s what they are more than required reading.
With that said, there are a few things here and there that are currently in play in the modern Marvel Universe, including Odin’s ties to a certain prehistoric Avenger.
However, If you’re on a budget, and just a fan of Spider-Man, the Hulk or any other single character in here, you may be better off hunting down the individual one-shots that star your favorite rather than buying this entire book. Honestly, those issues are probably still hanging around your local comic shop — and may even be available for a discounted price.