The mills have been grinding away, predicting the future of Marvel Comics post-Secret Empire, and as that event reaches its end, fans and nay-sayers have begun trolling announcements and solicitations for suggestions of truth and hope regarding the shape of Marvel going forward. After Secret Empire, we'll get Legacy. Announcements for the launch have included the usual hyperbole about the changing of the game, and all that, with additional lip service about returning to some roots and taking classic Marvel into account.
It’s an interesting time for Marvel, to be sure, as the publishing arm tries to leverage the success of its films to attract new readers without abandoning veteran fans, and to tell compelling stories. We expect some creators to be shuffled around, some old characters to return, and some infrastructure changes at the House of Ideas. As rumors become announcements, and announcements become current events, we're sure some of what we think is true won't be, and we also expect some surprises along the way. Below are eight things we know are going to happen thanks to Marvel’s huge Legacy event, along with seven rumors we hope turn out to be true. Get your crystal balls ready and buckle up.
15 WE KNOW: THE 1,000,000 B.C. AVENGERS ARE COMING
Legacy is opening with a story about the first Avengers. Literally the first ever Avengers. These Avengers won’t be the heroes from 1963’s Avengers #1, though. They’ll be much earlier than that. Even earlier than the All-Winners Squad from 1946! As has been reported across the internet, Legacy kicks off with a story about the Avengers from 1,000,000 B.C. and promises to lay the foundation for the entire Marvel Universe.
The team includes a version of Black Panther, Agamotto from the Dr. Strange stories, the Phoenix, Iron Fist, a version of Thor who might be Odin, a wielder of the Star Brand who looks like a Cro-Magnon version of the Hulk, and Ghost Rider. The internet’s gone gangbusters over Ghost Rider atop a fiery mastodon.
14 WE HOPE: AN EVENT THAT LEADS UP TO THE 2019 MOVIE
Once Legacy settles in, expect to see an event in the Avengers book that may lead into the 2019 movie. It's been reported that Jason Aaron, writer on The Mighty Thor, will join Esad Ribic on the book in late 2017. Speculation holds that an event that possibly connects to Thanos will serve as promotional material for the fourth Avengers film that’s expected to feature that Death-loving Titan.
It wouldn’t be surprising to see the book version of the team eventually match the version of the team shown in the movies, at least to some extent. We wouldn’t mind that because that version features most of Marvel’s heavy hitters, which is what the Avengers should be. Depending on how movie contracts work, this could be the final ride for the Chris Evans Captain America, though when Infinity Gems and Cosmic Cubes are at work, who knows what might happen?
13 WE KNOW: RETURN TO OLD NUMBERING
Along with adding some new series, Marvel is returning to their old numbering system for their old series. That means that for series that have gone into new volumes, and therefore re-started their numbering sequence, Marvel is adding up all the total issues of a title and starting the numbers from there. This is a change in the strategy born in the '90s that claimed readers liked to collect number ones, and big numbers were intimidating.
While that may be true, comic book publishers have always used noteworthy numbers as tentpoles for their books, using big numbers as places for transitioning to new creators and directions. One important question remains: where will these issues go in our long boxes? If the titles revert back to Volume One, that means the newer issues will appear out of chronological order with older books that have lower issue numbers but higher volume numbers.
12 WE HOPE: A NEW THUNDERBOLTS SERIES
If there’s a chance to mention the Thunderbolts, you take it. Jim Zub, the writer behind the recent version of everyone’s favorite team of reformed C-listers, tweeted out in June that he’d pitched Marvel on another run for Thunderbolts post-Secret Empire. That’s led some people to speculate that there’s a chance Thunderbolts could return in the near future.
The book’s had an uneven history. It started out really brilliant, an excellent example of pre-internet secret keeping. Through Dark Reign it became something else entirely (but something good!), though there were some notable missteps along the way (FightBolts? Red Hulk?). A return to its prior form, unencumbered by the heavy lifting Zub’s book had to accomplish on the way to Secret Empire, would be most welcome.
11 WE KNOW: THE RETURN OF MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE
In perhaps a sign that Marvel is warming to the idea of creating new stories with the Fantastic Four, the company is bringing back a venerable title from its past, Marvel Two-In-One. In its older incarnation, the book featured The Thing and a rotation of guests stars from the Marvel stable, often focusing on lesser-known characters. This time, it appears that Ben will be stuck partnering with his teammate from the Fantastic Four, the Human Torch.
While it’s a little disappointing that the book isn’t maintaining its focus on unusual team-ups -- those were always inventive approaches to telling unusual stories, and often featured newer creators -- the world is always better when we have more Thing. No official word on where the rest of the FF might be heading, but there are rumors...
10 WE HOPE: THE FANTASTIC FOUR RETURNS
While it's been reported that the Fantastic Four’s return is not upcoming, other rulings across the internet aren’t so negative about the the prospects. As we mentioned earlier, the Thing and the Human Torch are getting new stories in a revamped Marvel Two-In-One, so that’s half of the classic FF back in our pages.
Given that development, and the recent success of the partnership with Sony for Spider-Man: Homecoming, the prospects of the Fantastic Four’s return are better than they’ve been in years. This could really be wishful thinking, though. If it turns out Mister Fantastic is still off doing that thing he’s doing with multiverses and generally being a arrogant tool box, we can always just re-watch the best Fantastic Four movie ever made: Pixar’s The Incredibles.
9 WE KNOW: SPIDER-MAN RETURNS TO HIS ROOTS
Amazing Spider-Man #789 (there’s that renumbering) will begin telling the story of Peter Parker losing his company and going back to his roots at The Daily Bugle. In a recent interview, Spidey-writer Dan Slott described the what we’ll see as “a Peter Parker who’s had it all, lost it all, and now has to find his place in the world again. It’s a return to the scrappy underdog status that’s the Peter Parker we all know and love.”
That’s a long way from the owner of a multinational corporation. Slott goes on to say that Peter’s development is something that’s been planned for a long time, and that new readers and veteran readers will appreciate the move. One wonders how the success of Spider-Man: Homecoming factored into the plans for the character.
8 WE HOPE: BANNER HULK IS BACK
Fans know that the Hulk most-recently featured in Marvel comics is Amadeus Cho, the Totally Awesome Hulk, and that Bruce Banner has been MIA for a while. A recent issue of Secret Empire brought Banner back, and now two Hulks are kicking around in Generations: The Strongest. We know that Cho-Hulk will eventually be heading to Planet Hulk, but it’s unclear exactly what he will find there, or what he will bring back.
Speculation, of course, is that Banner-Hulk will make a return to the Marvel Universe proper, especially just in time to be in books before the Avengers movie. The movie Thor: Ragnarok is released this November, and it features Hulk heavily. As fun as the Totally Awesome Hulk has been, especially in Champions, you can expect Banner’s version of the Hulk to make his return in time to see himself in theaters.
7 WE KNOW: PRIMER PAGES
In a move to make Legacy books an easier jumping on point, Marvel is including short “primer” pages in each issue that remind readers about the history of the books and the character. The stories will be written by Robbie Thompson, and include art by Mark Bagley and others. We’ve gotten glimpses of the art, and so far, the pages look like a wonderful acknowledgement of the past and present of these series.
For a while now, many books have contained pages outlining “the story thus far,” making it easier to keep track of the happenings from month-to-month for veteran fans, and allowing new readers to quickly catch up. As the old comic book saying goes, every issue is someone’s first. Marvel is banking these primer stories ensure those issues are no one’s last.
6 WE HOPE: TA-NEHISI COATES ON CAPTAIN AMERICA
This entry on our list edges dangerously close to “this is news, not rumor” line, but since no official announcements have been made, we are placing it here. Writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, who famously took over scribe duties on Black Panther and the short-lived Black Panther and the Crew, is rumored to be taking his talents to Captain America after Mark Waid and Chris Samnee.
Coates’s run on Black Panther has garnered critical praise, though fan reaction has been mixed. The quick cancelation of Crew also drew the ire of internet commenters who said that the book was never given a chance to find its audience. If Coates is tasked with rehabilitating Cap’s image post-Secret Empire, it will be interesting to see the direction he takes. Cap’s books have a history of tackling important political issues, an approach Coates is well-suited for.
5 WE KNOW: CANCELED TITLES GET LEGACY ONE-SHOTS
Fans of canceled books can rejoice, because old favorites are returning for one last round of applause. Marvel has announced that its publishing a series of single issues of canceled books. The issues will maintain Marvel’s commitment to legacy numbering, so the books included are Shang Chi, Master Of Kung Fu #126, Silver Sable #36, Not Brand Echh #14, Dazzler #43, Power Pack #63, and Darkhawk #51.
That’s a strangely eclectic group of titles that seem to have little in common other than not appearing on most people’s “Name A Canceled Marvel Comic” lists. Characters from most of these books have appeared sporadically in other places, though, so maybe there is something more than nostalgia at work here. It would be great if these were successful enough to inspire similar issues for other canceled books.
4 WE HOPE: ODINSON BECOMES THOR AGAIN
We add this to our list with heavy hearts, because while we hope that Odinson regains his proper place as the God of Thunder, the move would likely be at the expense of Jane Foster, who currently holds the hammer and, as Thor, can stave off the cancer that’s threatening to take her life.
If Jane does relinquish the title of Thor, the new God of Thunder doesn’t necessarily have to be Odinson, though it would be nice (and movie-franchise convenient) to return to the title’s roots. We would never celebrate the death of a strong, female character who’s proven herself to be heroic in so many ways, so if Death does come to claim Jane, we hope she approaches it the same way she’s faced the bad guys lately: kicking butt to the end with a hammer in her hand.
3 WE KNOW: FOOM RETURNS
The longboards among us might remember Marvel’s fan magazine FOOM (although others might remember Marvel Age, which tried to do a lot of the same things), and they’ll be happy to hear that Marvel is resurrecting the title. Fan magazines are promotional books that feature news and interviews, extra material, shilling for upcoming releases, and other odds and ends.
In the days before the internet, and before comics gave birth to billion-dollar film franchises, publications like FOOM were sources of information and engagement for comic fans. How FOOM adapts to the modern age of information dissemination will be interesting to see. It’s hard to imagine the book will be allowed to be as freewheeling as its processors, but maybe they'll be allowed to have a little fun.
2 WE HOPE: NO MORE CIVIL WARS
Marvel’s Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing David Gabriel recently said that Secret Empire would mark the end of company-wide crossovers for a while. We are encouraged to believe that, for the time being, that means an end to heart-rending events like Civil War and Secret Empire where our heroes face off against each other.
While the hero-vs.-hero trope is a tried and true technique for getting heroes together to duke it out for eight pages after a misunderstanding, it’s exhausting when an entire line of comics takes it as the main focus. The world is a cynical, dark place as it is. We don’t need to see the good guys punching each other while the bad guys eat popcorn and rob unguarded jewelry stores. We welcome a break.
1 WE KNOW: IT LEADS TO A BIG RELAUNCH
Is it a relaunch? Is it a reboot? Can it be somewhere in-between? However you think of what’s happening in Legacy, we know this event is a line-wide shift in focus. After Marvel completes Secret Empire, and then the maxi-series Generations, Marvel will be aiming to reconnect to its past in order to secure its future (ominously, that sounds like a potential tagline for a Terminatior movie).
It’s an incredible shift for a company that took one of its most-recognizable primary characters and turned him into something that may or may not be pretty close to being an actual Nazi but the specifics don’t matter because he blew up Las Vegas, regardless (Ok, the specifics do matter, but are Hydra Nazis? Can anyone tell anymore?). The success of Legacy will rest on how Marvel can balance its past and its future.
What do you think will happen in Marvel’s Legacy books? What are you hoping for? tell us in the comments.