The plans for Marvel Legacy, the publisher's sweeping initiative intended to merge classic elements with the new, are only now beginning to come into focus, fans now know at last one thing for certain: the roster of the Avengers of 1,000,000 B.C.
If a million-year-old incarnation of Earth's Mightiest Heroes doesn't ring a bell, that's because it's a new concept, first teased in mid-June in the publicity for Marvel Legacy #1, the September one-shot that will kick off this new wave of comics.
Although the Avengers as we know them debuted in 1963 (or, given Marvel's floating timeline, about 10 years ago), bringing together Iron Man, Thor, Ant-Man, Wasp and the Incredible Hulk, Marvel has since introduced earlier versions of the team, such as the "1950s Avengers," aka Agents of Atlas ( Marvel Boy, Venus, the 3-D Man, Gorilla-Man, M-11, Jimmy Woo, Namora and Jann of the Jungle), and the Avengers of 1959 (Nick Fury, Dum Dum Dugan, Sabretooth, Dominic Fortune, Namora, Kraven the Hunter, Ulysses Bloodstone, Silver Sable and the Blonde Phantom).
However, Marvel Legacy #1 goes way, way back, to the Early Pleistocene, with the Avengers of 1,000,000 B.C., whose roster of legacy heroes and cosmic entities is, by far, the most powerful, ever. There's so much power represented here that it makes us wonder how great the threat must be that it requires such a heavy-hitting lineup.
So, who are the Avengers of 1,000,000 B.C.? Just read on to find out.
Perhaps best known for the magical artifacts that bear his name, Agamotto is a member of the Vishanti -- alongside his mother, the Elder Goddess Oshtur, and Hoggoth -- a triumvirate of ancient and inconceivably powerful extra-dimensional entities with vast mystical abilities who have protected Earth for billions of years. They're often called upon to grant power and knowledge to Doctor Strange.
The Early Pleistocene setting for this group of Avengers may not line up with Agamotto's previously established timeline, but he did live as a mortal for a period, becoming Earth's first Sorcerer Supreme, a title that's been passed down over the millennia to such magic user as Merlin, Sir Isaac Newton, the Ancient One and Stephen Strange. During his tenure on this plane, Agamotto created a number of magical artifacts, including three "eyes" -- Power, one of Truth and of Prescience, the third of which resides within the amulet worn by Doctor Strange -- the Orb of Agamotto and the Spine of Agamotto.
When Agamotto is shown among the Vishanti, he's usually depicted as an enormous lion or tiger, but when he appears to Doctor Strange, he may take the form of an anthropomorphized caterpillar, somewhere between the one from Alice in Wonderland and Shazam villain Mr. Mind. Presumably he'll take human form in Marvel Legacy, but we may yet be surprised.
The presence of a Black Panther also requires some serious fudging of Marvel Universe history, or else time travel, as that title dates back "only" about 10,000 years, to the arrival of the Vibranium meteor and the founding of Wakanda. Bashenga nclosed the mound around the meteorite and established the Panther Cult to guard it. He in turn became the first Black Panther, the ceremonial and religious title granted to the king of Wakanda for the generations that followed, up to the current ruler, T'Challa.
To become the Black Panther, a warrior must defeat the current Black Panther (if he's still alive), and face six of Wakanda's greatest fighters at the same time. If the warrior is successful, the juices of the Heart-Shaped Herb -- a plant mutated by the Vibranium meteorite -- granting him superhuman strength, speed, agility, healing and senses. The ceremonial regalia is the Vibranium-laced Panther Habit, which comes complete with a Vibranium-microweave uniform that can lessen the impact of punches, knives and even bullets; and claws made of "Anti-Metal" that can break down most metals on a molecular level.
An immensely powerful creature of retribution created from the bonding of a Spirit of Vengeance to a human host, the Ghost Riders have existed as least since the biblical Flood, when they were known as "Heaven's Greatest Weapon." The name, and fiery image, of the Ghost Rider has echoed through the ages, to such modern hosts as Johnny Blaze, Danny Ketch and Robbie Reyes.
The human host can transform into the Ghost Rider at will, manifested as a flaming skull. In that form, the Ghost Rider possesses superhuman strength, stamina, agility and healing; hellfire and soul manipulation; and a "Penance Stare," in which anyone who stares into his eyes experiences all the pain they've ever inflicted upon anyone in their lifetime. A Ghost Rider is typically depicted with his own transportation -- whether a motorcycle, car or horse -- transformed by hellfire. Fingers crossed that the Ghost Rider of 1,000,000 B.C. rides a flaming woolly mammoth ...
It's been suggested, with some hyperbole, that there's always been an Iron Fist, the champion of K'un-Lun, one of the Seven Capital Cities of Heaven. Before the city's greatest warrior can become the Iron Fist, he or she must defeat Shou-Lao the Undying, the immortal Dragon that lives beneath K'un-Lun, and absorb part of its power. Transformed into a Living Weapon, the Iron First can harness his or her mystical chi, augmenting both mental and physical capabilities to superhuman levels, manifested in a glowing fist.
Daniel Rand is of course the best-known warrior to wield that power, but The Immortal Iron Fist introduced several of his predecessors in a series of vignettes the traced the legacy back centuries, and even into the far-flung future. The comic also introduced Quan Yaozo, who, according to The Book of the Iron Fist, who was the first to defeat Shou-Lao and become the Iron Fist before sacrificing himself to help save the Seven Capital Cities from the hellish realm of the Eighth City.
While Quan's story is depicted as taking place in a distant, almost-legendary time, it almost certainly wasn't the Ice Age.
The longtime ruler of Asgard, the realm of the Norse gods, Odin is presumed to be the son of Bor and the giantess Bestla. However, his true origins are far more mysterious, with clues often parceled out in stories told by the All-Father himself. While not exactly immortal, Odin, like other Asgardians, is extremely long-lived, making his presence in 1,000,000 B.C. plausible. Heck, given his recurring role across the millennia as a defender of Earth, his absence from the team would be rather conspicuous.
Odin Borson possesses the physical attributes common among Asgardians -- superhuman strength, agility, stamina, durability and regenerative healing -- but as king of the gods, those appear to be even further enhanced. The All-Father can also manipulate the Odinforce, a vast amount of magical energy that's permitted him to accomplish nearly inconceivable cosmic-level feats, including transporting all of humanity to another dimension, and swatting around powerhouse like Thanos and the Silver Surfer as if they were minor nuisances.
An immortal manifestation of the prime universal force of life, the Phoenix Force is the origin of all psionic energy, and exists -- and always will exist -- across all realities of the multiverse. The Phoenix Force has traveled to Earth repeatedly over the millennia, bonding with a series of human hosts, most notably such mutants as Jean Grey, Rachel Summers, Emma Frost, Quentin Quire and the Stepford Cuckoos.
One of the most powerful forces in the cosmos, the Phoenix Force, by its very nature, can destroy and re-grow portions of the universe, burning away what it determines to be obsolete. It can wield its vast energies in a wide range of ways, including telepathy and telekinesis, projecting beams of destructive force, absorbing a foe's energy or life force, and traveling through space or time. Presumably for the Avengers of 1,000,000 B.C., the Phoenix Force will have identified a mortal host on Earth -- perhaps even its first.
Introduced in 1986 as part of Marvel's New Universe imprint, the Star Brand is a star-shaped mark, or "tattoo," that grants its bearer infinite, god-like power, limited only by his or her imagination. Drawing power from the fabric of space-time itself, the Star Brand was first known to be wielded by "the Old Man," who turned out to be a centuries-old Dutch trader who received the mark from a blast from the sky. When he transferred the Star Brand to an asteroid near Earth, it triggered the White Event, the phenomenon that bathed the planet in white light and imbued numerous people with paranormal powers (thus, providing a backstory for Marvel's New Universe).
The Old Man may have been the first known bearer of the Star Brand, but the Avengers of 1,000,000 B.C. seem likely to reveal there were wielders long before him. Those who possess the mark can channel the energy of the multiverse in ways limited only by their imagination and their level of skill: super-strength, lightspeed flight, invulnerability, energy blasts, healing, immortality, survival in the vacuum of space, and even, in some cases, reality and temporal manipulation.
Marvel Legacy #1, by writer Jason Aaron and artist Esad Ribic, arrives in September.