I enjoy writing impassioned pieces here. There is a special sort of joy that comes from something born of your heart and soul taking shape in your writing. I also like to pride myself on writing informed and researched pieces. I’m not one to rant emotionally with nothing to base it on. However, one of the early posts on this blog was titled “…..really?” and it dealt with my shock and frustration over the (now infamous) Hydra Cap reveal. I’ve come to deeply respect what’s come of the story and I’ll openly admit I was wrong. Buuuut sometimes you just need to rant so I’m taking the title of that piece – “…..really??” – and turning it into an occasional series where I react to an idea before I really have any idea what’s up :). Today’s focus is Marvel Legacy!
“Marvel Legacy” is the name for Marvel’s Fall relaunch, coming on the heels of the conclusion of Secret Empire. Announced on 22 April at the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, Marvel Legacy promises a returned focus to Marvel’s “core heroes” and a reminder to fans of their “rich history.” In April, IGN reported that Marvel’s Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada said, “The Marvel Legacy initiative is a celebration of everything that makes Marvel the best in fiction and it’s a signifier of a new era for Marvel Comics. It’s a loving look at the heart of Marvel as we embrace our roots and move enthusiastically forward with all the Marvel characters you know and love starring in the biggest, boldest, best Marvel stories. All of which kicks off with the giant Marvel Legacy special.” Part of this “embrac[ing] our roots” will include a return to Legacy Numbering for many series. It’s also believed that Marvel Legacy will see the return of Tony Stark as Iron Man, Bruce Banner as the Hulk, and Odinson reclaim Mjölnir.
Uh…okay, let’s go to the good first. Legacy Numbering! Yay! I’ve never understood the move to constant renumbering during my absence from comic collecting. I remember how exciting it was to read The Amazing Spider-Man #300 as a kid! But I came back to a world of reboots every few years. So I’m happy to see the return to their unbroken numbering. So that’s fantastic. As to the rest…I’m more than a little worried.
Despite Marvel saying they plan to continue to embrace the new characters they’ve created and honor their very intentional move to diversify, this seems to reek of a move to push their Legacy Characters onto the sidelines if not remove them all together. What will happen to Jane Foster, Amadeus Cho, and Riri Williams if their namesakes return to take up the mantel? Now, granted, we’ve had Peter Parker and Miles Morales coexisting just fine since the end of Secret Wars Redux and if that’s the plan, great! If not, I’m not going to be pleased.
Just look at some of the names of the titles to come. It looks like they are doing a hard push back to the 80’s and 90’s here.
Let’s start with The Amazing Spider-Man #789. The story is called “Fall of Parker.” To be fair, that could mean anything. And it might be all manner of exciting and unexpected things! As I’ve been learning, Dan Slott is nothing if not a creative storyteller. But anyone want to bet that this will see the end of Parker Industries and a return to Peter peddling pictures to the Daily Bugle while he constantly struggles to make ends meet? Sadly that’s what I’m betting on…
Then we see Champions #13 beginning a cross over with Avengers #672. It could very well just be a team-up. But I’m honestly very worried this could see the Champions disband and be reassumed into the Avengers. I hope and pray that I’m wrong. But my spidey-senses are tingling.
Moving to Falcon #1, the story’s called “Take Flight.” The title alone is enough to show us that Sam Wilson won’t be returning to the role of Captain America after Secret Empire concludes. I’m also concerned with the shift in authors from Nick Spencer to Rodney Barnes. I know authors shift all the time in comics. It’s part of working in a medium where the story never really ends. But Nick Spencer has given us such an important book in Sam Wilson: Captain America. This is a Captain America comic book for 2017. Even if it’s not always comfortable to read, it’s a book we need as a country. I worry the shift in authorship will also herald a shift away from the uncompromising social justice messages of the comic.
Then there’s The Incredible Hulk #709. Obviously, the “Totally Awesome” has dropped from the title and the name for the upcoming story arc – “Return to Planet Hulk” – looks like we’re returning to one of the biggest fan favorite storylines to play out in a Hulk comic over the last few decades. Is there a place for Amadeus Cho here? My bigger concern is that it seems like this may just be rehashing the past.
Invincible Iron Man #593 will begin “The Search for Tony Stark.” But what will become of Riri Williams once we’ve found Tony Stark?
What worries me the most is The Mighty Thor #700. A story titled “The Death of Mighty Thor” doesn’t bode well for Jane Foster. First, the title returned to being called The Mighty Thor while she was wielding Mjölnir. Second, we know she’s been battling cancer and each time she uses Mjölnir to change, the healing abilities of the hammer purge the chemo radiation from her body. The very act of being Thor is slowly killing her. If Odinson is picking up Mjölnir again, after we’ve seen how Mjölnir connects with Jane in a way it never has for Odinson, what can this possibly mean for the fate of Thor? Thor’s always been my second favorite superhero. I’ve loved him for decades. So it’s from a place of deep love when I say Jane Foster is the best Thor I’ve ever read. No Thor comic I’ve ever read is anywhere near close to being as good as they are now that Jane’s Thor.
I will say I am beyond relieved that The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl and Ms. Marvel seem to be remaining untouched. And I have no reason to believe Miles Morales won’t continue to star in Spider-Man as Peter Parker’s swinging through The Amazing Spider-Man and Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man. (Which, incidentally, the story arc that begins in Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #297 is called “Most Wanted.” Anyone else remember how often Spidey was pursued by the cops in the old days?) So thankfully Marvel isn’t dropping everything innovative and exciting they’ve created over the last few years. Still, I’m very, very worried.
This whole thing feels very personal for me. I’ve written before how the two biggest things that pulled me back to comics after my seventeen year absence was Kamala Khan becoming Ms. Marvel and Jane Foster taking over as Thor. Even before Jeff talked me into reading Marvel’s new Star Wars comics I was reading every article I could find online about Kamala and Jane. For the first time in nearly twenty years Marvel felt relevant to me. It felt like they were doing something I couldn’t miss out on. I haven’t been disappointed since my return. In fact, I’ve found characters – chief among them Squirrel Girl and Ms. Marvel – who I consider to be some of the greatest things Marvel’s ever created. The daring stories, the intentional move to diversify, the courageous social justice focus – this was what made me look at my monthly budget and find room for comic books alongside things like my mortgage and utilities. Looking at all the Marvel Legacy promo material I’ve seen I’m really worried about what’s coming.
I wrote a little while ago about X-Men Gold. I think the book is fun and exciting and a great X-Men comic…but I dropped it because it felt just like what I read in the 1990’s. The criteria I use for buying a comic every month is 1) It has to be fun (I want something bright, fun, funny, and enjoyable), 2) It has to be socially aware and justice-oriented (I want comic books that address the world we live in and challenge us to make it better), and 3) It has to be relevant (I’m not interested in reading recycled versions of what I have from my time reading comics in the 80’s and 90’s). If Marvel’s just interested in selling nostalgia, I’m not buying.
I’ll read The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl as long as Ryan North and Erica Henderson are on the title. I’ve said before I think Squirrel Girl is the most important and most enjoyable comic on the market right now – by far. And I can never imagine dropping Ms. Marvel as long as G. Willow Wilson is writing nor Black Panther as long as Ta-Nehisi Coates is at the helm. But if Champions folds back into Avengers, I’m not interested. If The Falcon loses its uncompromising social justice core, it’s cut. If Spider-Man becomes another Peter Parker title (which, again, I doubt), I’m out. If Riri heads back to college and we only have Tony Stark, I’ll seriously consider dropping that title too. I’m also not interested in watching Bruce Banner be miserable and hunted each month either. I loved, loved, loved how much Amadeus loved being the Hulk and I was beyond happy that he finally gave Bruce some peace. And if Jane Foster is no longer Thor, I can’t imagine paying to see Odinson do what I’ve seen him do for decades.
Now, to be clear, this isn’t my saying I have no faith in Marvel. I have a great amount of faith in many of the authors they have working right now. But I will admit I’m scared that Marvel will abandon much of the progress they’ve made and give up the important role they can play in the future. Nor is this an “I pay a lot of money so Marvel needs to do exactly what I want!” sort of rant. I don’t pay that much for comics each month and whenever I see someone send a letter to a Marvel comic demanding they change the stories to suit their preferences or they’ll stop reading the comic I think that person is an exceedingly narcissistic tool. If they revert, that’s their choice just as stopping reading will be mine. I don’t expect Marvel to bend to my whims. But I hope we can expect them to continue to be innovators, making comics of the present and for the future, not the past. That’s what brought me back to my local comic shop saying, “Make mine Marvel!” again after so long.
And hey, if I’m lucky, maybe I’ll be as off base with Marvel Legacy as I was with Captain America’s Hydra allegiance! Here’s hoping…