Marvel’s had a tough year, with the House of Ideas struggling to cope with poor sales performance. Needless to say, the solution is apparently the latest relaunch, known as Marvel Legacy. It’s all kicking off with this week’s #1, a one-shot that establishes the overarching narrative for everything that’s about to happen. That’s an approach Marvel pioneered back in the ’90s, with the “Age of Apocalypse” event, and it’s been repeated many times.
The company has assembled some of their top talent for this book, writer Jason Aaron and artist Esad Ribic. Aaron really is one of Marvel’s best, a storyteller who got his big break when he won a Marvel talent competition and got to write an eight-page Wolverine tale. He’s best known for his ongoing series of The Mighty Thor, for a lengthy and much-loved Wolverine run, and for a tremendous Doctor Strange arc. Meanwhile, Ribic is one of the most talented artists in comics today; fans will know him best for 2015’s Secret Wars miniseries.
As tradition demands, Marvel Legacy #1 accomplishes little more than setting the scene for everything that’s to come. It does so by launching a number of intriguing plotlines, most prominently involving a crazed Celestial who crashed to Earth back in 1,000,000 BC. The creature was entombed for a million years, but is now awakening, and the Starbrand is on a mysterious quest to kill those heroes who have a tie to the Avengers of that distant age. That story leads to the book’s two action sequences, one involving the Frost Giants attacking S.H.I.E.L.D., the other a no-holds-barred battle between Starbrand and Robbie Reyes’s Ghost Rider.
Here’s the catch, though; the “Marvel Legacy” era is intended to be a little more disjointed than most Marvel relaunches. The House of Ideas has belatedly realized that the traditional “Summer Event” approach isn’t working out anymore, and as a result they’ve promised no line-wide events for at least the next 18 months or so. That actually damages the narrative flow of this one-shot, with some plot elements sitting uncomfortably with the overarching narrative. One fun scene involving Doctor Strange and Iron Fist seems particularly random, even though it’s clearly supporting Dan Slott’s next Amazing Spider-Man event.
If you want a taste of where the Marvel Universe is going, this is the book to pick up. It includes at least a short scene or two establishing every major plot arc, from Deadpool (on the run after assassinating Agent Coulson under Captain America’s orders) to the Guardians of the Galaxy (searching for the Infinity Stones). Marvel promised us returns and resurrections, and this issue is happy to oblige. There’s a fun scene involving a resurrected Wolverine, a tease that the Fantastic Four‘s return is imminent, and Tony Stark seems to have woken from his coma.
The one-shot really does feel like a massive course-correction on Marvel’s part, an admission that their universe had become strange and unfamiliar to older fans. It’s an approach clearly patterned on the X-Men‘s recent “ResurrXion” era, and that’s proved to be a fair success.
This is definitely the Marvel book to pick up this week. Everything that follows, for possibly the next 18 months, will flow from this. If you want to know which Marvel Comics will have plots you’re interested in, this is where you’re going to get a taste.
Marvel Legacy #1 is exactly what an Alpha issue should be. In other words, it's the perfect setup for everything that's about to happen.