After scoffing at DC’s efforts to get right with Rebirth, Marvel decided a back to basics approach wasn’t so bad after all. Coming off the heels of the surprisingly great Secret Empire, Legacy #1 was the ideal time for a soft reboot, but the execution isn’t likely to leave the fanbase as excited.
It’s hard not to read Legacy #1 and not notice similarities to DC Rebirth #1. The problem though is while Rebirth #1 marked an immediate about face and course correction from New 52, Legacy #1 finds Marvel less committed to making the kinds of changes that will bring back scorned readers.
Arguably Marvel’s problems run deeper than the New 52 era DC. With New 52, DC flushed decades of continuity to start all over again. That meant changes to characters all the way up to Superman could go down a little easier for longtime fans. At least, this wasn’t their Superman. Marvel however changed practically its entire existing universe. Thor and Iron Man were replaced by female characters. Giant-Man, Wasp and Hulk were replaced by new characters for seemingly no reason. Cyclops was a mass murderer. Falcon was Captain America and Steve Rogers was hailing Hydra.
The tone of Legacy #1 is very familiar to Rebirth #1. A narrator with some familiarity with the characters is questioning legacies with every 2-4 pages shifting to the status of Marvel heroes. Jason Aaron — essentially Marvel’s elite level writer counterpart to DC’s Geoff Johns — handles the script.
Aaron’s strengths as a storyteller are more of the long game. If Legacy was a six to seven issue series, I don’t doubt he could ‘fix’ a lot of what’s wrong with Marvel. Instead, Aaron is basically writing teasers for the regular series, which plays out inconsistent as some are much more engaging than others.
That makes some elements like a prehistoric crew of Avengers battling a Celestial confusing since there’s no obvious follow-up. Especially since this was one of the most interesting aspects of the book. Starbrand’s attack on Ghost Rider also is puzzling since there’s little reason for them to be adversaries.
In the main narrative, Captain America (Sam Wilson), Thor and Ironheart battle Frost Giants operating under Loki’s orders. They’re after a SHIELD package carrying a very timely object that gets recovered by an unlikely source. Marvel has been especially bad at killing off characters and quickly resurrecting them. This one was overdue and offers some intriguing storylines. But for a true return to greatness there’s still 5-7 characters still pushing up daisies that need to make a comeback.
Legacy features art by 11 artists including Jim Cheung, Daniel Acuna, Alex Maleev, Steve McNiven and Stuart Immonen. The mishmash of artists felt like a nod to the mythical Marvel Bullpen, but going with the five best Marvel artists probably would have led to a more striking presentation. Some of the contributions aren’t up to par and it unintentionally sets up a sense of what stories/characters are most important.
Maybe the biggest area where Legacy doesn’t measure up to Rebirth is the latter did a better job of creating buzz across the board. Legacy reads more like a teaser instead of a comprehensive flowing story. This is more of a pitch to encourage readers to check out all the new re-branded books. But not enough is done to make that sell job work. Sam Wilson is going to be back as Falcon, but spends the issue as Captain America. Phoenix is returning to X-Men and there’s no peep beyond the prehistoric Phoenix.
Some elements do seem interesting. Hulk returning to Planet Hulk, Steve Rogers trying to restore his name, Wolverine’s big discovery and Loki’s schemes are intriguing, but Ghost Rider’s mission, Jean Grey’s discovery and the manhunt for Deadpool wasn’t thrilling. The big reveal of the narrator was more annoying than hopeful as it seemed like a tease for a promise Marvel doesn’t plan on delivering anytime soon.
In the end, Legacy #1 wasn’t the stand to attention game-changer Marvel really need to win over disgruntled readers. There’s potential here, but not the home run to convince readers to explore all of Marvel’s offerings like its Distinguished Competition accomplished with Rebirth.
Rating: 6 out of 10
Photo Credit: Marvel Comics