A few days ago, Marvel Comics finally revealed some of its plans for Generations, a maxi-series event that unites original Marvel heroes and their legacy character counterparts. Now, Marvel's rolling out another big publishing event designed to grab both newer readers and longtime fans who get whiplash from all of those new first issues dropping left and right.
It's called Legacy, and while the publisher hasn't revealed too many details yet, it certainly does sound like something very ambitious.Though it's being branded as more of an "initiative" than a crossover event you'd have to complete a checklist to read, Legacy will kick off with a single comic. It's a 50-page one-shot from Thor: God of Thunder creative team Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic, and it's taking on the history of the Marvel Universe from the distant past all the way into the future.
“We get a peek into the very distant past here, so we go back to the prehistoric days of the Marvel Universe,” Aaron said. “[We are] seeing versions of Marvel’s biggest legacy characters and different versions we haven’t seen before and [an adventure] of, I guess I could call ‘the Prehistoric Avengers.’ That adventure will have major ramifications for the Marvel Universe going forward.”
That's about all the publisher has revealed in terms of plot, but Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso did promise a big last-page reveal, and longtime editor Tom Breevort also teased “the return of a central piece of the Marvel mythos that readers have been mourning in recent months.”
Before we go any further: If that's not the return of the Fantastic Four, I will be just plain furious.
The Legacy one-shot leads the way into a new phase of publishing for Marvel that will see "long-running" titles revert to their original numbering, which is sure to please longtime fans who were buying Uncanny X-Men back when that thing was still in the 200s. In an effort to assure new readers that they won't be lost, all Legacy titles will also feature new storylines and jumping-on points, and though the old numbering will return, cover art will clearly indicate to readers that they can jump in without fear of getting lost.
Beyond that one-shot, though, things get a little murky. Here's Breevort talking up the development of Legacy:
“The biggest challenge was in fitting everything that we had into the story, while still actually having a story!” Brevoort said. “When we laid out our plans for this [story] at one of our editorial summits, our community of creators was energetic in offering up key elements of the stories they were planning, so much so that it’s an embarrassment of riches. It’s everything that makes Marvel great, exciting, fun and special in a single high-quality package. This is the Marvel that you remember, and the Marvel that you long for.”
I have to admit to being a little confused here. Overall, Legacy sounds like a publishing initiative to provide an entry point for readers and to get the universe as a whole on the right storytelling track, but here Breevort is almost suggesting one big story even beyond the one-shot. Legacy is clearly not a crossover event, but the multiple references to a single story also don't seem to be just referring to the one-shot in the context of this quote. Hopefully marketing materials will continue to clarify this in the intervening months. In the meantime, here's a pretty clear statement from Aaron on the themes of the one-shot:
“This one shot being called LEGACY is not a coincidence,” Aaron said. “This book is very much about that legacy so we see how that legacy stretches back to the distant past and we follow those characters who carry on that legacy in the present and we set the stage for those characters and that legacy will go in the continuing stories to come.”
For some time now, Marvel has been struggling with maintaining the balance between new readers and longtime fans, as well as between new, more diverse characters and familiar faces. Legacy feels like the latest attempt to walk that line and please everyone. Now we just have to wait and see if it works.
Marvel Legacy arrives this fall.