After much fanfare (and a few advance spoilers), the Marvel Legacy one-shot has finally arrived in stores. With all of the early reveals and hype leading up to the issue, it felt like the weight of the entire Marvel Universe rested inside those 50 pages. While it’s understandable to be skeptical at yet another excuse to reshuffle the deck at Marvel, the comic is in the dependable hands of writer Jason Aaron and artist Esad Ribic (joined by multiple other illustrators), who have a track record of producing quality work.
Aaron should be commended, not only for juggling such a large cast, but also weaving different short stories throughout the central arc. In many ways, Marvel Legacy #1 reads like Point One issues of the past, where individual pages are dedicated to providing a springboard to storylines that will play out over the next several months in a variety of different titles. Helping illustrate these pages are a murderer’s row of artists who help keep the visual narrative from becoming too distracting when styles change from page to page -- it doesn’t feel jarring to transition from a Chris Samnee Captain America page to a Russell Dauterman Thor Odinson page.
Ribic did the majority of the artistic heavy lifting, and he has a knack for making each of his projects feel like a significant event. Figures like the 1,000,000 BC Avengers are stoic as they assemble to meet the threat of a rampaging Celestial. One drawback of Marvel Legacy #1 is we don’t get to spend enough time with this Avengers unit -- we don't see Ghost Rider mount his blazing wooly mammoth. Speaking of the Avengers of 1,000,000 BC, it was clever on Aaron’s part to pair present-day members together, like Starbrand getting into a scuffle with Robbie Reyes Ghost Rider, and Iron Fist hanging out at Doctor Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum.
There were only a handful of teases for individual stories that weren't spoiled ahead of the comic’s release date. Norman Osborn’s continual fascination with magic (which began a few weeks ago in Amazing Spider-Man #32), a possibly forgotten founding Avenger, and an intergalactic empire dedicated to Black Panther and the nation of Wakanda were all unexpected, yet pleasant, surprises. Seeing Osborn play in the larger Marvel Universe sandbox outside the Spider-Man family of books is always welcomed. The Black Panther reveal is interesting, because we’re not sure whether this cosmic nation has always existed, or if this is something that’s sprung up recently.
The biggest surprise of all came in the issue’s final pages, when we finally got confirmation that Marvel has plans to bring back the Fantastic Four in some capacity. While we didn’t see Reed Richards and Sue Storm, we did get the reintroduction of their kids, Franklin and Valeria. More than likely, Marvel is saving the parents’ big return for a key moment in the future. Absence does make the heart grow fonder, because while I was never the biggest FF fan, knowing they are involved in whatever cosmic-level event is coming does give me goosebumps.
If there is one major complaint with Marvel Legacy #1, it’s the involvement of Infinity Stones (or gems, as they were known before the Marvel Cinematic Universe). It goes without saying that the Infinity Stones are a big deal right now, especially with Avengers: Infinity War arriving in theaters next year. But the stones have factored into a number of titles over the last several years, to the point where their relevancy is beginning to diminish. Marvel planted one twist to the stones by having a resurrected Logan in possession of one. The visual of Logan holding the stone was cool, but it didn’t immediately make me wonder what's next.
Overall, Marvel Legacy #1 puts the shared universe in a good place moving forward. Multiple returns were promised and the publisher delivered on those, and new seeds were planted for future storylines. Now it’s up to the individual creative teams to capitalize on the positive momentum and goodwill.