Marvel Legacy WTF?
On June 22nd Marvel released a statement claiming that they would be making an announcement about their much teased Marvel Legacy. Not only would this be an announcement this was to be an announcement which would “change the comic book industry”. They claimed that this announcement concerning Marvel Legacy would lay to rest all the worries of fans have had in recent years about the declining quality of Marvel’s creative output. As they hyped Marvel Legacy the publisher was certain to include imagery of the fun current generation of superheroes alongside the classic Marvel legends whom the company has disrespected and brushed aside in reason times. Creating the best of both worlds as fans would get the characters they have grown up with alongside the exciting new heroes which is drawing in a brand new generation of comic fans.
I recently wrote (HERE) about some of the problems Marvel Comics has had in recent years. For the most part the company seems to be stuck in a creative rut. They hype the first issue of a new series only to completely disregard it by issue two causing its cancellation in just a short time. But this is not the end as the book usually gets brought back with a brand new #1 to repeat the cycle all over again. In my own collection I have four different books labelled Thor #1 all of which only came out in the past couple of years. How are readers supposed to get attached to a series or characters when they know they will only see 10 or 12 issues of it before it ends? I can only imagine the confusion of new readers who go to start reading Guardians of the Galaxy after seeing the movie only to find three Guardians of the Galaxy books labelled as #1. Not to mention the fact that every member of the Guardians has had two or three different solo series’ since the first movie was released. Not every book gets this constant reboot treatment though, as Marvel cancelled the acclaimed Black Panther and the Crew, written by respected writer and MacArthur genius Ta-Nehisi Coates, after only two issues with no sign of a relaunch. Considering the vast numbers of monthly books the House of Ideas publishes at 3.99 an issues this business model is bound to cause troubles for your average fan.
Aside from constantly cycling through books without care, the company also seems to have no respect for their most popular heroes. The most prominent example of this was the headline grabbing conversion of Captain America into a follower of HYDRA, a longtime allegorical group for the Nazis in the Marvel Universe. In Civil War II, their latest of countless bland crossover events Captain Marvel, who had enjoyed a great resurgence in popularity thanks to Carol Danvers taking on the mantle, made a heel turn which turned many fans away from her who still express skepticism about picking her book up again. In that same event the Hulk was killed by Hawkeye in a move that was purely done for shock value. In the Iron Man books, Tony Stark experienced a long journey discovering the truth about his parents, only to abruptly be put in a coma before we could see any ramifications of this storyline. In the X-books, the team which was once the hottest property in comics was relegated to obscurity to years, reportedly due to the feud between Marvel and Fox. Popular X-Men characters like; Jean Grey, Cyclops, Professor Xavier, and Wolverine have all bitten the dust. In the case of Wolverine, the death was particularly pointless as they simply brought Old Man Logan from the Mark Millar/Steve McNiven story arc from a couple of years ago in to take his place as the star on just about every X-Men book. In fact if you walk into a comic shop for the first time in many year, or simply there to read the books which inspired the films and TV shows, chances are you will not recognize many of the characters in the Marvel books. This is not to diss the legacy heroes who have taken on the mantle of many of the classic heroes, in fact I am a huge fan of many of these new superheroes. I have enjoyed seeing characters like; Miles Morales, Sam Alexander, and Jane Foster grow into their new roles, and Ms. Marvel starring Kamala Khan is easily my favorite comic being published right now. But many times these new faces have been hurriedly thrown into their roles with little to no build-up, turning away many longtime fans.
Returning to the topic at hand, Marvel Legacy seemed to give fans hope that the publisher would change their ways and head in a new direction which would honor their past while looking forward to the future. In fact during the teasing process many joked that Marvel was seemingly just copying DC’s incredibly successful Rebirth. But instead of a One Shot promising the return of a beloved fan favorite which costs 2.99 to be the starting point for new readers; Marvel’s One Shot promising the return of a return of a fan favorite while being a starting point is set to cost 5.99. When June 23rd fans watched with cautious enthusiasm for Marvel’s game changing announcement. And when news of what Marvel Legacy was hit the internet it was revealed to be……covers. Marvel Legacy is apparently the fact that the covers published in October will be aping classic comic covers. This was their supposed industry changing announcement. Not the return of beloved classic characters like Captain America or Iron Man or the Fantastic Four. Not a bold new direction for their books or brand new creators to bring fresh ideas to books. Instead Marvel seems to be heading in the direction they have been going on but with throwback covers. Fans were left angry and confused by this reveal, a Tweet I saw summed it up best by saying, “don’t invite me to a pizza party when you’re only serving brussels sprouts”. Recently legendary Marvel editor and current Senior Vice President of Publishing Tom Brevoort said that Marvel Legacy will be the beginning of a new mystery which will span the entire publishing line, leaving readers rolling their eyes at the prospect of another pointless crossover event.
As a passionate fan of the comic book medium I truly hope Marvel is able to turn things around. The characters of Marvel have always held a special place in my heart ever since I was a kid who received a copy of Avengers Annual #19. In fact it was rereading this issue, particularly a back-up story in it written by Kurt Busiek, which inspired me to return to comics after many years away from it. I want this company to succeed, I want to see Marvel once again have a greater presence in the Diamond Top 10 with comics which are not crossover events or Star Wars books. Hopefully soon we can see the return of the Marvel which once was.