Whether Marvel Legacy will change the industry, as the publisher has repeatedly promised, certainly remains to be seen. However, a wave of 52 homage covers released earlier this week provided the first real look at the future may hold for the Marvel Universe, and Marvel Comics' publishing slate, with a blend of old and new, the return of long-missing favorites, and some conspicuous absences. Yes, that's 52, echoing DC Comics' 2011 line-wide relaunch.
Following in the wake of Secret Empire, there are no signs (yet) of a Captain America title, starring either Steve Rogers or Sam Wilson. And if while the upcoming Generations might seem like an obvious way for classic Marvel heroes to return to their traditional costumed identities, there's no indication of that among the Legacy teasers: Jane Foster, Riri Williams, Amadeus Cho and Carol Danvers are still present and accounted for.
Notably missing are Ultimates 2, Deadpool and the Mercs for Money, Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme, Great Lake Avengers, I Am Groot, Rocket, Infamous Iron Man, Kingpin, Nova, Occupy Avengers, Patsy Walker, Spider-Man 2099, Silver Surfer and Thunderbolts.
Although there was no sign of Fantastic Four, last published in 2015, Marvel did tease the revival of Marvel Two-in-One after more than three decades, this time with The Thing joined by the Human Torch. And it seems that Doctor Doom will revert to his old ways, at least based on his appearances on the covers of Gwenpool, the Unbelievable and The Invincible Iron Man. Despite that, he's still wearing his Infamous Iron Man suit.
Little revealing information could be gleaned from the covers of America, Astonishing X-Men, The Invincible Iron Man, Luke Cage, Cable, Generation X, Monsters Unleashed, The Amazing Spider-Man, Jean Grey, Iron Fist, The Defenders, Uncanny Avengers and Weapon X. But as for the others?
While it difficult to discern a (more or less) straightforward cover homage from clues to major plot developments or new directions, that didn't stop us from trying:
Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur
Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur’s cover references Fantastic Four #49, “If This Be Doomsday.” Like that comic, it features Galactus attacking, as the Silver Surfer flies overhead. Running from him are the Fantastic Two, along with Moon Girl, her dinosaur nowhere to be seen. Interestingly enough, Galactus has been a hero for a while now -- seeing him here as a villain is a bit odd, and potentially spoiler-y.
Also, is this comic hinting at a Fantastic Three, with Moon Girl joining? While that may seem a little off, with Mister Fantastic gone, the genius has left the Baxter Building. Could Luna, the smartest person in the Marvel Universe, take his place?
The Incredible Hulk
A callback to the fan-favorite 2006-2007 storyline, the star of the "Return to Planet Hulk" -- only this time with Amadeus Cho. Will Bruce Banner be here too? After all, Cho never visited Sakaar, so this wouldn’t be a return for him. Banner is appearing in Generations, so there's a chance he might make his return, with Cho, to the planet.
The Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows
The daughter of Mary Jane and Peter Parker recently has gone by the name Spiderling. In this comic, an homage to The Amazing Spider-Man #282, itself a reference to Amazing Fantasy #15 (maybe comic homages should be retired?), it seems there’s going to be a new Spiderling, wearing variation on Silk’s costume. Although, given her hair, and use of Spiderling as a title, there’s a good chance this might be a version of Mayday Parker, aka Spider-Girl, from the MC2.
The cover of Iceman is an homage 1975's The Champions #1, and like that cover features Hercules, Black Widow, Ghost Rider, Iceman (this time in front) and Angel -- although here he’s in his Apocalypse get-up. He’s no longer with the X-Men, so why shouldn’t he have a team?
Guardians of the Galaxy
A tribute to 1991's The Infinity Gauntlet, this seems to depict Gamora wielding the Infinity Gems/Stones. However, on second glance it instead be a robotic hand wearing them. In the background are Star-Lord, Baby Groot, Drax, a blindfolded woman, Rocket Raccoon, a feral Groot-like monster, Moon Knight, the Nova Corp, and Adam Warlock and the gang. In place of Gauntlet’s text reading, “The end begins here,” this comic reads, “The search begins here.” For who? For what? Whose hand is wielding the gems? With Avengers: Infinity War arriving next year, Marvel is almost guaranteed to further intertwine the Guardians with the lore of the Infinity Stones.
An homage to David Aja's cover to Hawkeye #1, this sees Kate Bishop returning to New York City, and reuniting with Clint Barton.
This cover pays homage to 196's The Amazing Spider-Man #1. Just as that issue marked the debut of the Sinister Six, this one will introduce a new team of foes for Miles Morales.
Like that comic, this one will be introducing a new Sinister Six for Miles Morales. We have Sandman, Aftershock, Bombshell, The Spot, Hobgoblin and … the Steel Spider?
With Ultimates seemingly coming to an end, it appears that wirter Al Ewing will use this comic for some cosmic weirdness. The cover shows the heroes of the U.S.Avengers wandering into … nothingness? ... on a search for Cannonball, a reference to Fantastic Four #261, "The Search for Reed Richards."
The Avengers and Champions
An homage to Avengers #53, in which the Avengers face off against the X-Men, this cover depicts the Champions facing off against Earth's Mightiest Mortals. Interestingly enough, the Champions cover pays tribute to The Avengers Annual #17, "The Evolutionary War," shows the two teams as captives of the High Evolutionary.
The Despicable Deadpool
An homage to the 1974 introduction of The Punisher in The Amazing Spider-Man #129, this one shows Deadpool taking aim at Cable. The text states he’s different, he’s despicable, he’s Deadpool. Perhaps this comic will bring Deadpool back to his roots, as a more sociopathic killer? OK, probably not. But the Spider-Man toy dangling from the hilt of his sword suggests that no matter how it goes, Deadpool will be a great source of comedy.
Moon Knight’s cover is virtually identical to that of 1982's Moon Knight #25. Both are of course by Bill Sienkiewicz, giving another indication of Marvel's desire to link the past and the present in Legacy.
Reminiscent of a certain What If? story, perhaps the most surprising cover in this wave of Marvel Legacy homages is the one that depicts Frank Castle in War Machine's armor, customized with the antihero's signature skull logo.
This striking ode to The Uncanny X-Men #142 exchanges the original text, "This Issue: Everybody Dies!" for the far more hopeful "Everybody Lives!" In the process it also swaps Wolverine and Storm for Black Bolt and Medusa, and the attacking Sentinel for ... well, we're not quite sure. Could this be one of the beings behind Terrigenesis?
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl
An homage to Silver Surfer #1, this shows Squirrel Girl as Galactus and Tippy Toe as her Herald. Is this a hint that Galactus will return? After all, he and Squirrel Girl did have a pretty good rapport. Maybe she’ll even get the power cosmic.
A tribute to the cover of The Amazing Spider-Man #546, the beginning of the "Brand New Day" storyline, this image seems to suggest the Symbiote will return to his horrifying roots, leaving behind the days of Space Knight/Agent Venom.
This heralds a return to the title of She-Hulk and, it seems, a return to the character. Jennifer Walters seems to be in control of herself once more, which is good because the Leader is apparently gunning for her.
A nod to the frequently homaged cover to Uncanny X-Men #141, better known as the beginning of "Days of Future Past," this shows Black Bolt defending an Inhuman. Behind them are the names and images of numerous Inhumans, who are listed as either apprehended or slain. We know that Inhumans are being attacked by Hydra during Secret Empire, but does their persecution continue after the fall of the organization?
Daken has been gone for a while, and is overdue for a comeback. And finally, in this homage to Fantastic Four #112, he makes a triumphant return -- although it appears that he and Laura won't be reconciling anytime soon.
Spirits of Vengeance
host Rider, Blade, Satana and Damion Hellstrom team up in a brand-new comic. Interestingly, this Ghost Rider is on a motorcycle, which would seem to indicate he's not Robbie Reyes.
The Radioactive Spider-Gwen
Promising the arrival of "Gwenom" to The Radioactive Spider-Gwen, this may simply be an homage cover referencing the Venomverse event, or it could mean the actual introduction of a (female) Symbiote counterpart to Spider-Gwen.
Ben Reilly: The Scarlet Spider
Surrounding a defeated Ben Reilly are The Slingers, stars of their own short-lived 1990s comic, and Cassandra Mercury, a casino magnate determined to take down the Scarlet Spider for failing to cure her daughter of a fatal disease. During a period when Peter Parker could no longer appear as Spider-Man, he donned a variety of costumed identities to continue fighting crime. Once he returned to his familiar role, a group of teens assumed those abandoned guises and launched their own crusade as The Slingers.
The Unbelievable Gwenpool
Gwen faces off against Doctor Doom, still in his Infamous Iron Man armor. She fights him off with a fish because, of course she does. This cover is perhaps the most “classic”-looking of the bunch, and may offer a good indication of what Legacy is intended to be.
In an homage to the final issue of Secret Wars, the Mad Titan stands triumphant over a field of defeated foes, accompanied by the text, "Thanos Wins!" It's interesting to note that Sam Wilson still wears his Captain America gear, complete with shield.
Spider-Man vs. Deadpool
A nod to The Amazing Spider-Man #34, which depicted Kraven the Hunter attacking Spider-Man, this one shows the wall-crawler on the offensive, with Deadpool recoiling. Is there a chance this might be connected to Deadpool’s new (apparent) "despicable" nature?
The Mighty Thor
Odds are, this is the one you’ve read the most about, as it's an homage to The Death of Captain Marvel. Still, there may be a some overlooked aspects that could have implications on the broader Marvel Universe. Yes, this does appear to show Jane Foster’s Thor dying -- however, other comics depict her as healthy. Perhaps she’ll assume another identity, or claim another hammer; after all, the image does show her weapon on the ground. All we know is that Jane Foster’s Thor is most likely not going anywhere.
In the background, you can see the Odinson -- yes, the Unworthy Thor, complete with ax -- alongside Laura Kinney, in her old yellow suit, and a HydraCap-costumed Captain America. What are we to make of that?
Of course, there’s a chance this isn’t actually Sam Wilson; it could be someone else taking up the mantle of The Falcon, although it doesnt appear to be Joaquin Torres. Alternatively, Sam Wilson might retain his Captain America status, and this issue will be a flashback.
The comic that Marvel has been teasing the longest, Marvel's Two-in-One returns, with The Thing and the Human Torch.
The Thing anchored the original title for more than a decade, but will the stars change from issue to issue? Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso teased a Fantastic Two, and a Thing/Human Torch team-up is pretty much that. Is the use of Marvel Two-in-One nothing but a way to reference the past, or will this comic actually follow in the footsteps of the original, with Ben Grimm teaming with a different co-star each month?
Of note is that this cover features Captain America in his original regalia. Jane Foster's Thor also appears, seemingly … not dead.
So what do we have here? A couple of new titles, some previous series renamed and returned to original numbering, and hints that Generations will matter. No Fantastic Four and no Captain America -- although plenty of Captain Americas on various covers.