Comic Review: Legacy #1 (Marvel Comics)

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Then he reviews one every other week.

This week I picked up Marvel Legacy, the set up from the next stage of the Marvel Universe, ostensibly following on from all of the Generations one shots from the past few weeks. Legacy was written by Jason Aaron, with the art primarily by Esad Ribić and Steve McNiven, colours by Matthew Wilson and letters by VC’s Cory Petit, with additional art from a host of artists including Chris Samnee, Russell Dauterman and Alex Maleev.

First and foremost, Legacy reads like a Previews catalogue, with snippets and hints at ongoing stories that are for the most part seemingly unconnected to the driving narrative, or 2 or 3 driving narrative of this hefty issue. One million years ago, an Avengers-style group including Odin (wielding Mjolnir), the Phoenix, a Black Panther, a Ghost Rider, a Starbrand, a Sorcerer Supreme and an Iron Fist banded together to fight a Celestial. In present day, the current Starbrand and Ghost Rider fight it out near an archeological dig site that is getting dangerously close to where that Celestial was laid low. Meanwhile, Captain America (Sam Wilson, in possibly his last adventure in the uniform), Thor (Jane Foster) and Ironheart (RiRi Williams) battle ice giants, sent by Loki to steal an item held in a SHIELD secret base. Some long dead or missing (well, 2 years or so) heroes return or are hinted at returning along the way.  Around these main through-lines, we are treated to glimpses of where the stories for some of the main books are headed. We check in with Captain America (Steve Rogers) on the road, the Odinson in a bar, and Dr Strange and Iron Fist hanging out for some reason.

Legacy succeeds for the most part in creating tangible excitement for the future of Marvel comics and this universe. Some of these plots don’t quite land, don’t seem to have much prospect for the future, or simply seem a bit like “Hey, guess who is alive again! What? How are they alive again? Don’t worry about it!”. As an attempt to bring in old, lapsed readers unhappy with the current status quo, while retaining any newer readers gained from the increased diversity in recent years, I’m not entirely sure how successful this will be. But from the perspective of good, well told comic books? The driving plot is interesting, and many of the teasers are incredibly compelling (I can’t wait for Samnee and Waid’s Captain America). I hope we see more of the Avengers of 1 million years ago again in particular.

The art in the entire issue is uniformally great, if not entirely uniformal. Esad Ribić’s work on the main plot is as good as his work on Secret Wars, to my mind the best Marvel event in a long while, due in no small part to his art. The early Avengers work is stunning to look at here in Legacy. As for the rest of the art Steve McNiven deliver’s predictably very strong pages, and in general the pages that are either current artists or upcoming artists on the plots they are relating too deliver too. Samnee’s Captain America page is warm, classic and entirely modern all at once, while Dauterman’s Thor page is as breathtakingly epic as ever.

Legacy has made me excited for the future of Marvel comics, after the onset of severe event fatigue. The return to the “original” numbering after this is a gamble that I can’t quite see the long term benefits of with regards to getting new readers in, and this certainly doesn’t feel like a place to start, but with a compelling plot and great art any current or lapsed Marvel fan should check it out.

Score: 7.5 secret SHIELD caches out of 10

Comic Review: Generations: The Iron #1 (Marvel Comics)

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Then he reviews one every other week.

This week, I picked up another installment of Marvel’s Generations, the stop gap between the contentious Secret Empire that wrapped up last week and their next event, Marvel Legacy, that will apparently smash together classic characters and their more recent legacy counterparts into a new status quo. Generations is a series of one-shots, where the current and classic versions of several of Marvel’s most recognizable characters team up for a short adventure. This time, I’m reviewing The Iron, written by Brian Michael Bendis, pencils by Marco Rudy, Szymon Kudranski and Nico Leon, inks by Kudranski, Will Sliney, Scott Koblish and Leon, colours by Rudy, Dean White and Paul Mounts, and letters from VC’s Clayton Cowles.

“The Vanishing Point – An instant apart! A moment beyond! Loosed from the shackles of past, present and future – a place where time has no meaning! But where true insight can be gained! Make your choice! Select your destination! This journey is a gift…”

The Iron stars Riri Williams as Ironheart, Tony Stark’s replacement shellhead in the wake of the punishment he received at the hands of Captain Marvel in last year’s Civil War II. The story picks up with Riri falling, her suit failing and the Tony Stark AI she uses as her version of Jarvis/Friday unresponsive. She lands in a futuristic Chicago, and how she got there is a complete mystery. But before she passes out, she meets a group of young Avengers, most of whom appear to be related to recognizable original members and all of whom know who Ironheart is. When she wakes up, she discovers that Tony Stark is alive and well, and is now 126 years old. And he has a new title too. Tony takes Riri on a tour of the future, a utopia of science and philosophy that includes the quickest thwarting of a villain ever, and the return of an old face (or an older version of a young face) that hasn’t been seen in the Marvel U for a couple of years. But Tony also needs to make sure he doesn’t reveal too many secrets, as knowing your own future can be a dangerous thing. They have banned time travel in the future after all.

There are still no more clues as to what the Vanishing Point is, or why heroes are being time displaced for these brief adventures. I had expected some indication to come in the finale of Secret Empire, but all there was was a throwaway line that something had happened. However, Generations continues to be a lot of fun, and The Iron is no different. There is a lot of interesting philosophizing, and it is rare to see a future in a Marvel comic where everything is actually going well. As with The Thunder, at least one hero here leaves with their horizons expanded. Generally, the story and dialogue from Bendis here are good, though both Riri and Tony have one instance where they add in a comment halfway into a speech bubble in parentheses, which just isn’t how people talk and so I’m not sure what the aim is, other than a snide comment within a comment.

Interestingly, while the art goes through several changes throughout the issue, it never feels incomplete or inconsistent. Rather, it feels like each section of the story and the tour of the future switches between discrete art styles that gives a satisfying overall flow. There are levels of Ditko-esque psychedelia throughout that almost resembles Christian Ward’s work on ODY-C, and some really interesting paneling is employed across the issue. The colorist on the book bring this psychedelia to life, as a contrast to the blue tones of the future.

The Iron is another strong Generations book, even if it doesn’t answer any more questions than the other issues. Pick it up at your LCS or digitally now!

Score: 7.5 Shards of the Odinsdottir out of 10

Comic Review: Generations: The Thunder #1 (Marvel Comics)

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Then he reviews one every other week.

While Marvel wraps up their current event, Secret Empire, they are already laying the groundwork for their next event, Marvel Legacy, that will apparently smash together classic characters and their more recent legacy counterparts into a new status quo. This starts with the Generations one-shots, where the current and classic versions of several of Marvel’s most recognisable characters team up for a short adventure. My first foray into this is The Thunder, written by Jason Aaron and drawn by Mahmud Asrar, with colours by Jordie Bellaire and letters from VC’s Joe Sabino.

“The Vanishing Point – An instant apart! A moment beyond! Loosed from the shackles of past, present and future – a place where time has no meaning! But where true insight can be gained! Make your choice! Select your destination! This journey is a gift…”

The Thunder, you may be able to guess, is a Thor-centric comic starring The Mighty Thor Jane Foster, who is the current wielder of Mjolnir and Goddess of Thunder, and The Unworthy Thor, who is the Odinson without the hammer. But not the current Odinson (recently star of a comic called The Unworthy Thor), instead this is Thor before he could ever wield Mjolnir but is still called Thor. It’s confusing.

Odin chastises his son for trying to lift such a dangerous weapon again, and summons him to greet some guests in the great halls of Asgard. But Thor, answering prayers from a group of Vikings set on invading Egypt, speeds off on goat-back to aide his faithful. There he finds Apocalypse, and has quite the fight on his hands. Until a time-displaced Jane Foster arrives to help out. After a little confusion, the pair waste little time in bringing the thunder.

Jason Aaron has been writing Thor (both Odinson and Jane Foster) for a while now, and continues to surprise, especially in how much variation he brings to the various levels of youthful arrogance the Odinson has over the millennia. And the pair are both reminded of what is key to any Thor, and that is humanity. The Thunder is incredibly fun, which is what these Generations books should be aiming for. As for the mystery of why Jane Foster was thrust back in time, or those final pages with Odin? I think we will find out in Legacy, and perhaps what The Vanishing Point is at the end of Secret Empire. At least this year’s event isn’t overrunning and hanging over the ongoing state of the Marvel Universe quite so much as last year’s Civil War II.

Key to Aaron’s enormous success to date with writing Thor comics is being paired up with artists who deliver on his vision and make the gods of thunder seem real. Mahmud Asrar draws jaw-dropping action worthy of those who have come before, and the splash pages are gorgeous to behold. Jodie Bellaire as usual brings colours in that only make the art better, with the lightning almost jumping off the page.

I have no idea where Legacy or the Marvel Universe is currently headed, but if it as fun as The Thunder then I can’t wait.

Score: 9 Ugly Men out of 10