Marvel release a big event comic this week, and if you thought I wasn’t going to go over it page-by-page, you haven’t been reading my stuff long enough! Get to the archives, people! I’ll wait! For the rest of you, it’s time to break down the “Non-Reboot But Yeah It’s Really a Reboot” that Marvel is selling us. As usual with a lot of these kinds of comics, I’m “live-blogging” it, meaning I have no idea what’s going to happen as I type – I’m simply reacting to what’s on the page in front of me. I’ll make some guesses, of course, but I’m as in the dark as you are! So let’s go!
This comic, I should point out, is $5.99. It also sports a lenticular cover, which I did not buy. In case you haven’t heard, Marvel is forcing retailers to significantly over-order the titles to get them, even if they usually don’t sell a lot of, say, America. It’s a total douche move by Marvel, and a lot of retailers haven’t gone along. I guess my retailer can absorb the costs, but he’s doing something different than usual. Everything in the store is always 20% off (why doesn’t he lower prices by 20%, you say, and you’d have a point), but for these lenticular covers, he has to charge full price. He’s explained this to people, but he’s also offering the non-lenticular covers at half-price, meaning I paid $2.99 for this comic. Which isn’t a bad deal. All right, let’s get to it. This thing isn’t going to review itself!
Page 1: “One million years ago. Earth. The Stone Age” reads the caption. Oh, it’s one of those comics. All right, let’s do this thing. Thor’s hammer rests among a bunch of rocks. A narrator says “Legacy. That’s the one word that keeps bouncing around my brain more than any other. The word that worries me. That keeps me awake at night.” Oh, it’s one of those comics – the ones that beat you over the head with its theme because you’re too stupid to figure it out on your own. A standard Marvel and DC superhero comic, in other words. A speech balloon comes in from the right with the word “ook” written in it. That’s a bit silly, isn’t it?
A furry yet definitely humanoid hand reaches for the hammer as the narrator says that it’s silly for someone his/her age to be thinking about legacy, but there it is. Whose legacy should this unnamed narrator follow, “in these very dark and troubled times”? Meanwhile, a furry human tries and fails to pick up the hammer while some of his bros look on. A person speaking with Asgardian script if off-panel, telling the monkey-men to get away from the hammer. Why? It’s not like they can lift it. Or is one of them worthy and we’re moment away from … Caveman Thor?!?!?!? Dang, I would read that.
Page 2: Unnamed narrator is on the same thread, wondering if there are any people whose legacy they should be running away from. Oh dear, a moral conundrum! Some Asgardian steps out from behind some rocks and tells the monkey-men to get the “hel” away from the hammer. When they flee, the dude yells at the Mjolnir (the hammer, for those Marvel-challenged people out there) because it didn’t return to his hand. He gets all grumpy at it, and another voice mocks him by saying he “lost it again.” Apparently, this dude is Odin, as some flaming figure in the background tells us (well, him, but it’s so we know who it is), and she says whenever he throws the hammer, it’s an “opportunity” for it to “escape.”
Page 3: The woman, who is dressed in furs, but sexily (because of course she’s wearing basically a fur bikini!), tells Odin that he’s become her business, as the Phoenix does not plan on dying today. So she’s Phoenix? Groovy. She asks if he saw the monster fall, and he says yes. First he gets mad at himself for creating Midgard (the Earth), because it’s been nothing but trouble. Poor Odin! He says that the power of Mjolnir and the “Odin-Force” killed the monster, and she says that she it with blasts that would “melt a supernova,” but it’s still moving. “Melt a supernova”? How would that work? A supernova is an exploding star. You don’t melt one, as it’s kind of already melting. You’d think the Phoenix would know that.
Odin struggles to pick up Mjolnir, telling Phoenix that the “monster” won’t be stirring for long. Then he asks if anyone survived, and a voice off-panel says “Here.”
Page 4: Odin strolls toward a group of people, one of whom is wearing a wolf’s head as a cowl and very little else. Yeah, why would you need armor when you’re fighting a monster? He says everyone is accounted for and “assembled,” a loaded word indeed. Behind him stands a Hulk-like creature with a star-like tattoo on his chest. A woman stands behind them, and a dude wearing a Doctor-Strange-esque red cloak stands behind her. Sitting on the ground is a dude with a flaming head. Yes, it’s Cavepeople Avengers. The woman says that the “Starbrand” (the Hulk-like dude) brought the monster down and he wants to eat its heart. Ghost Dinosaur Rider says that he brought it down and will burn it up. He says he deserves vengeance as we see … a dead mammoth. Wait, they were fighting a mammoth and it took the combined might of the Cavepeople Avengers to bring it down? Yeesh, guys, is that the extent of your power? No one the Earth is always in trouble. Or wait a minute … Ghost Dinosaur Rider is looking sadly at the mammoth, so maybe he’s Ghost Mammoth Rider, and now his ride is dead! Yeah, that makes more sense. Wolf Guy (Caveman Wolverine?) says that they can’t fight amongst themselves, and Odin say the monster is no god. The woman asks “Agamotto” if he’s ever seen something like this, and the strange doctor says yes. Oh dear.
Page 5: This is a full-page spread of the “monster” behind the Paleolithic Avengers, as Agamotto explains that it’s a Celestial, but more “wanton” and “deranged” than the others he’s seen. It seems to be searching in the Earth for something, as if it’s “rabid” or “infected.” It’s not down, as it’s rising to meet them, but they say some tough stuff as it does, so all will be well, I’m sure.
Pages 6-7: This is a double-page spread, with one big panel across the top and one across the bottom. In response to Phoenix’s question on the previous page of what to do with this, Odin yells “We kill it!” and they charge into battle. He gets another shot at Midgard as he advances, saying that even though the world is “hideous and inbred,” it still has protectors. Way to turn a negative into a positive, Odin! Our unnamed narrator comes back and claims that the idea of legacy is a lot more complicated than it used to be. Yeah, well, that’s because Marvel kept fucking things up!
On the bottom of the page, we get the Celestial trying to swat the Cavepeople Avengers down, while the narrator drones on. “There are so many of us now,” they say, “In all different shapes and colors and creeds. Or maybe there always were and we just didn’t notice.” This is funny, because Marvel has been retconning “diverse” characters into their stories for a while now, so the “official” history of Marvel can now pretend that they always were diverse. I mean, the reason all the characters in the past were white men (and a few white women) is because that’s who was creating them and that’s who was largely reading them. It’s not really anything to be ashamed of, per se – yes, there were efforts by some to keep more diverse comics out of the market, but I don’t think Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were out there forcing minorities out of the field, were they? If you actually read old Marvel comics, yes, they were not very diverse, so the narrator is incorrect – they haven’t always been there. In the “new” Marvel universe, however, they always were. I think going back and rewriting your history is not a very good trend in comics (I wrote a long post about it some years ago), because it hinders you from moving forward, but this is what comics have become. If all we care about is nostalgia, then we have to insert more diversity into our pasts. The narrator then wonders if we’ll leave an Earth behind to have a legacy. Oh dear.
Page 8: It’s “Now,” and some dude has fallen asleep in his car. He has black hair with a white streak in it, and he’s leaning on the steering wheel. Someone (we find out soon that it’s a cop) is tapping on his window telling him to wake up. The narrator continues, saying that the legacy questions keep him/her up at night, and while they don’t miss the sleeping, they miss the dreams. I want to say that the narrator is this dude in the car, but I won’t. Yet. The dude mumbles that he was dreaming that he was riding a mastodon and there was an Iron Fist and a Black Panther and what the heck? So I guess the woman in the Paleolithic Avengers was Iron Fist and the Wolverine dude was really Black Panther. Whoops, my bad. I probably should have figured that out. In the third panel, we see an urban area, the dude’s car – a Dodge Charger – and the cop standing outside. The cop is carrying some kind of assault rifle and is getting grumpy, telling the dude he needs to step out. The narrator continues, wondering why it took her/him so long to notice he/she had stopped dreaming. The dude in the car doesn’t know where he is, saying that where he is doesn’t look like East Los Angeles. The cop, meanwhile, tells him it’s his “last warning” to get out. Well, that escalated quickly.
Page 9: In a weird jump cut, the very next panel after the last one on Page 8 shows “Robbie” (he says his name out loud for our benefit) speeding away in his car, and the police in hot pursuit. What the heck happened? There is very clearly no key in the ignition in the final panel on Page 8, and the cop is standing right there with an itchy trigger finger, yet suddenly Robbie is speeding away? Robbie keeps talking to himself as he and the cops speed up a road on the side of a mountain, and Robbie realizes he’s in Cape Town, South Africa. Well, that’s odd. He says he knows the car is weird, but did he really “sleep-drive” from L.A. to Africa? Robbie, like many Americans, has a limited knowledge of geography and thinks one can drive from Los Angeles to Cape Town without, you know, crossing vast oceans. His ignorance of our world will have to wait, though, because an explosion on the road knocks his car sideways.
Page 10: A dude is standing in the dust, with the same star-like symbol on his chest that the Hulk-thing had back in the Stone Ages. So this must be Starbrand! He calls Robbie “rider,” which will never not bug me – Robbie Reyes is Ghost Driver, because he drives a damned car. Yes, I know you drive a motorcycle too, but the common nomenclature is that you ride a motorcycle, hence Ghost Rider. No one says, “I’m going to go ride my car around the neighborhood.” He’s GHOST DRIVER, damn it, and Marvel should embrace it! Anyway, Robbie tries to talk his way out of whatever he’s in, but Starbrand tells him that he (Starbrand, that is) is “the Earth’s inherent defense mechanism,” and as such he needs to kill Robbie. Well, that sucks. Apparently Robbie has been dreaming about something he shouldn’t, and Starbrand tells him that he can’t let Robbie anywhere near “it.” He drags him from the car and tells him “it” will destroy the world, and it has to stay buried, even if he, Starbrand, has to kill to keep it buried. Dang, son.
Page 11: The car smacks Starbrand in the back, knocking him over, because the car is sentient, I guess. Robbie says he doesn’t know what Starbrand is talking about, but he picked the wrong guy to fight. He calls Starbrand “pendejo,” which officially means a stupid person, but if you’ve ever hung out with any Hispanic people, you know it means “asshole” or worse. So we’re allowed to curse in Marvel comics now, as long as it’s not in English? This could open up some possibilities …
Starbrand is fine with Robbie showing his “true face,” as Robbie flames up. He says that Starbrand is about to get punched by the “$&#-damn Ghost Rider.” First of all, he’s GHOST DRIVER. Second, I guess we can call someone an asshole in Marvel comics, but we can’t say “God”? Third, I’ve noticed this a lot recently, and I’m sure you have too. You can say the curse word but not the other word that goes with it. Marvel can put “damn” in their comics but not add a “God” to it. Plenty of television shows bleep the “hole” in “asshole” but not the “ass” part. It’s weird. Anyway, the narrator is back, saying that the dreams anchored them to their place in the world and both their history and their future. This narrator dude needs to STFU, because he/she is annoying AF.
Page 12: We’re in Jotunheim, realm of giants, and the narrator keeps talking, telling us that some people are bound to their legacies and can’t escape them. Cue Loki, who’s ranting to a bunch of giants about how they didn’t get the lives they were promised, but tonight they can make everyone notice them. Typical Loki junk.
Page 13: He tells them they have to steal something that has the “power to change worlds.” Of course it’s on Earth, because where the hell else would it be? He opens a magical portal and sends the giants through it, but not before one of them tells him that if he’s messing with them, they’ll rip out his heart. Oh, frost giant – of course Loki is messing with you! However, after the giants are gone, Loki monologues (he’s a villain, of course he does) about the truth being more “ludicrous.” What is that truth? Well, turn the page!
Page 14: Apparently, we learn in a voiceover that finishes Loki’s monologue, he plans to save the world! How nice of him! Meanwhile, we’re at a S.H.I.E.L.D. storage facility (location classified), where some soldiers are late picking something up because one of them was convinced they were being followed. The S.H.I.E.L.D. agent talks about being unemployed soon, and the soldiers mention that S.H.I.E.L.D. has been shut down. Is that something new in this comic, or has been established before? I don’t know, as I don’t follow Marvel all that closely. They’re taking all the stuff in the storage facility, but of course, one crate – the very one the giants are coming for! – isn’t on the manifest, and the agents have no idea where it came from or how long it’s been there or what’s in it. They don’t even want to open it, telling the soldier if he’s dumb enough to do so, he should feel free. I’m going to assume it has something to do with Marvel Comics #1 or the Nazis, because part of its designation number is “1939” and given that this is a comic about legacy, the first makes sense, and given that Marvel really loves its Nazis, the second makes sense. One of the soldiers notices that it’s getting cold in the room, which can’t be a good sign.
Page 15: And … it isn’t, as the giants suddenly appear and start hacking at people. Seriously, they just appear. There’s no background in the panel, no magical portal, and the seem to come from every direction. It’s not terribly clear, but the point is – they’re there, and they’re hacking. On another level, a soldier gets a panicked call from his bros and turns toward a silhouette on the right and says it’s good they’re there. The silhouette says they will not require elevators to reach the men, and in the third panel, we see that, as Mjolnir blasts through a wall, scattering debris everywhere. This page is bizarre, frankly. First we have the lack of background in both Panels 1 and 3, so there’s almost no context to what we’re seeing. In Panel 2, it’s obviously Thor standing there (Jane Foster Thor, that is), so why wasn’t she and the others (however many there are) with the soldiers down in the facility? Why were they just hanging around someplace else? Weird.
Page 16: Chick Thor and Falcon (well, Sam Wilson, still as Captain America, but he’s Falcon, damn it!) fly in, and Sam says he’s wearing the costume one last time. Jane Foster is enjoying bashing giants, and she tells Sam that later they maybe will be doing some mackin’. That’s nice for them. The narrator fills us in – she’s dying of cancer, but she still wants to have some fun, and Sam is ready to “be his own man again.” Good for him! He smashes a giant into a crate, which reveals a Captain America shield. Is this the crate that the soldiers were picking up? Beats me. Once again, there is no background in the panels on this page, so any context is non-existent.
Page 17: One of the giants is holding a long knife at the throat of a sad human. He says they should lay down their weapons or he’ll kill the “meat-sack” blah blah blah. From behind, he’s smashed by Chick Iron Man, who’s the “backup,” according to Sam. Wait, what? Again, why aren’t these superheroes just hanging around with the soldiers? Anyway, Ironheart says she was tardy because of “super science” – yep, she says that – and they all decide to get back to the “bludgeoning.” “Bludgeon” is a good word that doesn’t get used quite enough. AS they fight, we see that the crate smashed on the previous page was NOT the one the giants came to retrieve, as it’s still very much intact. We get a voiceover from a news broadcast, as Deadpool is being hunted “nationwide” and Wilson Fisk is going to be the next mayor of New York. Good stuff!
Page 18: On the previous page, the newscaster led into a question – “Where is Captain America?” – that leads us to this page, to one of those diners that rarely exist in the world anymore but are staples of fiction because everyone likes “Nighthawks,” I guess. Steve Rogers, wearing a bomber jacket like Hal Jordan (he, of course, doesn’t look as cool as Hal, because who could, really?), is watching the news, as the newscaster mentions the Hydra takeover of the country and wonders where Steve is hiding and if he will answer for what he’s done. The broadcast is on “Roxx News,” which is obviously run by “your friends” at Roxxon and because Marvel is nothing if not subtle. What could “Roxx News” be referring to? THINK, GREG, THINK! The waitress, who also only exists in noir fiction (not that this is noir, but this page feels like it is), ask Steve where he’s headed, and he doesn’t know. Perhaps a journey into his own soul?!?!?!? The narrator (damn it, I thought we lost them!) says that Steve isn’t sleeping much either, and he’s also thinking about legacies. I wish the book had been called Marvel Pop Tarts and every instance of “legacy” had been replaced with “Pop Tarts.” Try this on: “Steve Rogers isn’t sleeping much either these days. Like me, his thoughts are of Pop Tarts. How easily they slip away …” This book would be one million time better if that were true.
Page 19: The rest of that sentence, by the way, is “and how difficult they are to reclaim.” Boy howdy, don’t I know it – once the Pop Tarts are gone, you have to go to the store, and they might be out of them until the next delivery date! Anyway, we’re in Asgardia, which is a fancy way of saying Asgard (I mean, come on, Marvel!), and Original Recipe Thor is drinking. (I still don’t get how he’s not Thor even though he doesn’t have the hammer. If I had magic pants, but then I lost them, I wouldn’t have to change my name. “Thor” is the name his dad gave him, long before he picked up the damned hammer. He’s still Thor, damn it!!!!!) He wants a fight, and he hopes a troll comes in so he can punch it. He also is very much wallowing (as the narrator puts it), not in unworthiness, but in annoying self-pity. Jeebus, Thor, you look like Christopher Hemsworth. Go organize an orgy, for crying out loud! Nearby, there’s the rainbow bridge, and the narrator tells us that on said bridge is one of the viziers, whose job it is to foresee the future. “Vizier,” by the way, is Arabic by way of Turkish. Why do Nordic gods have viziers? Anyway, this vizier has decided that after his latest vision, he’s peaceing out, so he kills himself after saying “Mangog is coming,” “and all the gods of Asgard shudder without knowing why.” Blech, Mangog. Oh well.
Page 20: We’re at a Stark facility in Dover, New Jersey, which is a bit northwest of Newark, right along 80 as it cuts its way from New York (well, Teaneck, but still) to San Francisco. Back in 1993, when we had the horrific Spring Break blizzard that stranded my wife in Texas for a few days because no one could fly into the East Coast, a friend of mine who lived in New York tried to get back to Penn State and couldn’t because they had closed 80. Man, when you close an interstate highway, you know the weather is bad! Hey, where were we? Oh yes, Tony Stark. Mary Jane Watson is telling two yahoos that whatever they have better be good, because she has a million things she could be doing, like gazing wistfully at photographs of her honeymoon in which no husband appears and explaining to people how a supermodel is qualified to work for Tony Stark. Is she just boinking him, or does she do actual work in the company? Sigh. Anyway, Yahoo #1 shows her an empty mechanical contraption, in which, until 30 minutes previously, Tony Stark had been in a coma. Now he has disappeared, and there’s no trace of anyone or anything entering the room. So that’s a mystery.
Page 21: We’re back in South Africa, and Ghost Driver is putting a beating on Starbrand. Starbrand, meanwhile, tells him that despite being able to control the demon inside him, he’s still holding back a bit, which means he doesn’t understand what’s at stake, and so he has to be killed. Well, that makes sense. Starbrand then chucks a big boulder at Ghost Driver. Sucks to be him.
Page 22: Starbrand is still philosophizing as he lasers Ghost Driver into the ground, saying that these times will try us all, especially those who have been there since the beginning, since the “great fall and the first host,” like the two of them. The world is cursed because of them, and its chaos their greatest legacy … uh, I mean Pop Tart. Starbrand continues, saying there’s upheaval on the horizon and too many of their “kind” are dead or “warped beyond all recognition.” Is … Starbrand an internet troll? Is he commenting on the current state of Marvel comics, with too many character he grew up with dead or warped beyond all recognition? That would be … weird. Starbrand says that beings like them must protect the world from … beings like them? Man, he has some issues. Ghost Driver just wants him to fall down. Why won’t he?!?!?
Page 23: We’re in the “Great Karoo” area of South Africa, which is not too far to the northeast of Cape Town, and two whiny S.H.I.E.L.D. agents are “babysitting” an archaeology dig. Two of the archaeologists walk by, mentioning “cave drawings” that date to the Stone Age, so of course they’re going to be connected to the Paleolithic Avengers, and one of them says that the real find is very deep, so they should keep digging. The S.H.I.E.L.D. guys continue to whine until something explodes right in front of them.
Page 24: Hey, it’s Starbrand! What’s he doing here? He knows the place, saying that “the fallen” has drawn him there (I guess Fallen should be capitalized?). He can’t let Ghost Driver find it, but then he’s interrupted by the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, holding guns on him. The one guy is smart, telling the other (whose name is Todd, because that’s awesome) to just shoot him instead of telling him to freeze, but that wise sage is stopped by Starbrand straight up lasering them to death. It’s yet another odd panel – Starbrand is turned away from them, and we don’t really see anything, and the agents don’t even get a farewell “arrrgggghhhh!” But they’re dead, we know, because one of the archaeologists tell us in the next panel, when he suggests to the snooty doctor (the one who said to keep digging) that they should get out of there. Snooty Doctor says “To hell with those men! Keep digging,” so we know he’s a douchebag. Comics are so nice letting us know who the good guys and bad guys are, aren’t they?
Page 25: Deadpool is praying, asking for forgiveness for all his sins from a “padre.” The joke is, he’s in a bathroom stall, and three cops are pointing guns at him. They’re telling him to shut up, and one of them exposits that he’s under arrest for the murder of Phil Coulson. The other cop doesn’t want to wait until he comes out, he just wants to start shooting. So they do, and Deadpool just sits there taking shot after shot and not worrying too much about it. Here’s the thing about Coulson. He wasn’t created in the comics, of course, appearing first in the Iron Man movie, and later getting shoehorned into the comics. Now he’s like a Super-Agent, which is annoying. The only notable thing about Coulson is that Clark Gregg plays him well, which of course doesn’t translate to the comics, so I think we can stop it with the Phil Coulson as the glue that holds the Marvel Universe together. Let the man be dead!
Page 26: Doctor Strange is at his house, saying that it’s telling him that something is wrong, as someone attempted to thwart the front door defenses, but they didn’t make it past the shrubbery. He’s talking to Iron Fist, who is understandably curious about the “shrubbery.” Strange responds with “My shrubbery is not to be trifled with,” which, yeah, is pretty funny. Iron Fist gets to the point – has Strange ever dreamt he was a caveman who murdered God? Strange doesn’t miss a beat and says, “Many times.” But he doesn’t want to talk about dreams until he’s sure the sanctum is secure. We see that Norman Osborn attempted the break-in (“Damn that shrubbery,” he says), but he’ll find “sources of power” elsewhere in the city. Oh, Norman – when will you learn?
Page 27: Now we’re at Avengers mansion, and Jarvis is staring out the window. “Nadia” (that’s the Wasp, in case you’re not caught up) asks him what’s the haps, and he asks her if she’s ever felt that a tiny detail of her surroundings is wrong. She says not, and he busts out jamais vu, because of course Jarvis would know that term, and decides that it’s nothing because … “everything’s just as it should be.” Don’t say that, Jarvis, because you should know better! He says it as we’re looking at a statue of the Avengers on the lawn, and the narrator pipes up with “change is never easy.” Yeah, thanks for that nugget.
Page 28: Oh, good, we’re back with Jane Foster and Sam Wilson and Riri Williams, fighting frost giants. It’s just two panels of them fighting giants while Riri wonders if they’re the Avengers now. Sheesh. Thor tells Sam to “let [Riri] say it.”
Page 29: Sam wants to know what she’s talking about. Jane says that she’s not going to die fighting the giants, but no one knows how long they have, so if Ironheart wants to say “it,” she should. So Sam tells her to say it, and she … flubs the line. She wants to say “Avengers assemble,” but she forgets the verb. God, these millennials, ruining everything. Jane doesn’t care, because she’d prefer something about “smiting” anyway. So yes, we did just get two pages about whether Riri Williams should say “Avengers assemble.” That’s two pages of your life wasted!
Page 30: As the “Avengers” leave, two giants left behind (they should call themselves the “Lousy Avengers,” because they probably should have checked to see if there were any frost giants still around) are talking of vengeance against the mean superheroes, but one of them says that they’ve found the crate Loki needs, and he’ll distract the good guys while the vengeance-seeker returns to Jotunheim. He says “see that we’re remembered,” as if the Avengers are killing them. Is that what the Avengers do now? Just straight up kill frost giants? Oh well – sucks to be that dude.
Page 31: We’re in Manhattan, and standing on top of a skyscraper are … hey, it’s Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm! Nice to see them. Johnny is moping about how no one remembers them and that the world doesn’t need them anymore, and Benn tells him that he’s a moron and that the world needs them more than ever. He shoots a “4” flare into the sky, and the narrator chimes in that the world is always changing and that part of our
legacyPop Tart is that “we’re always getting lost.” So what happened to the Fantastic Four when Marvel cancelled their comic? Was it a big, cataclysmic event where everyone thought they were dead? This is another meta comment about Marvel comics, not about the Marvel Universe, because I always assumed that when a comic got cancelled, unless the character(s) dies, they just keep doing stuff. So if the FF didn’t die, wouldn’t they just keep doing their thing, except we wouldn’t be reading about it? I know the Thing has been in some recent comics, so he’s been around, but this reads like Marvel readers discussing the FF, not the FF talking about themselves. It’s dumb, in other words.
Page 32: The narrator keeps on: “Sometimes so lost, people forget we ever existed.” Yes, we get it, some characters don’t sell so they don’t show up in comics for a while. Jeebus. Anyway, in Panel 1, we’re in the “Benhazin star system.” In Panel 2, we’re above the planet “Bast.” In Panel 3, we’re flying over “Birnin T’Challa,” the “throneworld” of “the intergalactic empire of Wakanda,” which we see at ground level in Panel 4. I’m not even going to ask what the fuck is going on with this.
Page 33: The narrator continues by saying that we never stop struggling to get home, even if we’re not the same as we used to be and even if home isn’t the way it used to be. Profound! Meanwhile, we’re in New Mexico, where there’s an “Alpha Flight deep space monitoring station.” I’ve always wanted to visit the province of New Mexico in Canada. Or is Alpha Flight not Canadian anymore? One of the technicians is trying to get the other to abandon his post because “Wrestlemadness IX” is on, but the dude won’t go (he likes wrestling “as much as the next nerd,” which as a nerd insults me, because I hate wrestling). Naturally, he leaves (I mean, she’s a woman who wants to watch wrestling with you, guy – the chances of sex are really, really high right now!) just as an incoming signal from the “Tayo” star system is detected. A voice says that they found an energy signature, and that they need him on Sakaar, because the energy signature belongs to the Hulk! Of course it does!
Page 34: Oh good, we’re back in South Africa. Ghost Driver is still kicking ass, and Starbrand is still telling him to accept defeat, expositing that he’s giving him an easy death because it Ghost Driver found the Fallen and brought the Host (again, it seems this needs capitalizing), then there would be no easy deaths for anyone. Ghost Driver says he’s not afraid of death, but wonders how Starbrand feels about … penance! Dum-DUM-dummmmmm! Wait, Ghost Driver could have hit him with that penance thing at any time, but he held off? Why, Ghost Driver, why?!?!?!?
Page 35: Well, that worked well, as Starbrand has a bit of seizure when confronted with his sins. He mutters about how there are so many dead, but without the “brand,” there won’t be enough to save the world, and then he says that “the sleeper will wake … the host will feed …” and then he … kind of explodes? I guess? All that’s left is the brand on the ground. That can’t be good.
Page 36: Robbie returns, and doesn’t realize he could do the penance stare. Huh, that’s interesting. It freaks him out, but not the extent that he cares to learn more about any of this shit. He just drives away (stupid millennial!), but he happens to drive onto the archaeological dig we saw earlier. Okey-dokey! A speech balloon (not our narrator) says “This … makes zero sense.” You think?!?!?
Page 37: Oh, we’re done in the dig, and one dude is complaining about the lack of proper procedure. He’s worried about radiation readings, which does suck, I must admit. The douchebag doctor tells him he can go back if he wants to, but Douchebag Doctor is forging on! He starts speaking mystically, about a truth he can feel, one that religion and science missed about where humans come from, and then he wonders if humanity itself is a “cosmic mistake.” His scaredy-cat assistant thinks the cave markings are nothing like he’s ever seen, and then they see something. Douchebag Doctor says it’s “beautiful” and “diseased,” which, yuck. Then it moves. Oh, it’s the hand of the Celestial from the Stone Age! That was a shocker! Not only does it move, but red lightning shoots from its fingers. That can’t be good.
Page 38: The Celestial, presumably, says to summon the final host. It also says “cleanse them all” as it kills Douchebag Doctor and his assistant (well, we don’t see them die, and I’m kind of hoping it transformed it agents of its wrath, but lets go with dead for now). We see the cave markings clearly, and they’re the symbols of the various Paleolithic Avengers.
Page 39: The soldiers are rounding up the frost giants, and one soldier ego-strokes the Avengers, which is nice for them. Of course, they ask what the giants were looking for, and of course, the soldier says nothing seems to be missing, because of course the crate wasn’t on any manifest, as detailed before. Sheesh. At least Chick Thor mentions that she could beat the information out of them. I like how the old Jane Foster was nothing like this Thor, but now she’s bad-ass. That works.
Page 40: Meanwhile, the lone frost giant who used the distraction to get Loki’s thingamajigger climbs up onto a road and demands that Loki open the magical portal. He thinks it’s opening, but it’s really a beer truck, running him down. Hey, remember that soldier back on Page 14 who thought they were being followed? Well, I assume this is the follower! It’s all coming together!
Page 41: The truck doesn’t kill the giant, however, and he gets up angry. He rips some of the truck apart and tells whoever’s driving it to come out so he can “grind [him] into gristle.” That doesn’t seem nice. We see a veiny hand inside the cab, with what appears to be a “Galactic” travel guide and a Hank Williams CD. Then some dude wearing cowboy boots gets out of the truck.
Page 42: The giant postures, because that’s what bad guys do, but when he tells the dude he’s “dead,” Cowboy Dude says “not no more, I ain’t.” He has really veiny arms. Why do people draw those? It’s creepy when guys have that in real life, and it just looks dumb in comics. Anyway, there’s a beat-down a-comin’ from Cowboy Dude, who is in no way someone we already know. I mean, how could he be, right?
Page 43: Oh, snap, it’s Wolverine! This is a full-page spread that doesn’t really deserve it. We get the shocked frost giant recoiling (I like that he has a little paunch, because frost giants don’t do cardio) and we get Logan’s arm with tiny claws extended. Seriously, I don’t know if it’s the angle or if they’re not fully extended yet, but they look wee. I know they don’t want to show too much gore in Marvel books, but couldn’t this have been a bit more bloody? Like, a few seconds after this? It would have been more dramatic, certainly. And I love how Wolverine listens to Hank Williams. By the time Hank Williams was popular, Logan would have been in his 60s and probably ranting against that new-fangled music the dang kids are listening to these days. That would be fun. “Where’s my ragtime, consarnit!” Logan’s OLD. Embrace it!
Page 44: Now we’re in Canada, and I’m not sure if the third-person narration is our old friend the narrator or just a regular omniscient narrator. It’s kind of annoying. Anyway, Jean Grey is in the “remote wilds of Canada” to visit the grave of a fellow X-Men, but she knows that’s not what she’s going to find. She knows that people come back to life, so when she sees a cracked statue of Wolverine, she’s not shocked and simply says “Welcome back. We missed you.” There’s so much to puzzle over here. We know from this month’s Previews that Adult Jean Grey is coming back. As comic book artists seem to be unable to draw any age between about 3 years old and adulthood, it’s unclear if this is Teen Jean. If it is, how well did she actually know Logan? Since she came (ugh) from the past, it seems like Logan’s been off doing his thing and then, you know, being dead. Remember that Young Adult Jean really didn’t like Wolverine all that much for a while, so why would Teen Jean automatically like him if they met, especially because you know Logan was creeping on her inappropriately because she will grow up into his great unrequited love. This is another example of comics writers using the work others have done to create nostalgic emotional attachments in readers’ heads, and while I don’t have any problem with that in the abstract, too often it doesn’t work as well as they think. If this is Adult Jean, what’s she doing there? I thought she wasn’t coming back until December? Anyway, the other worrisome thing is that the statue is cracked. Why would the statue crack down the middle just because the person it depicts came back to life? Was … Logan’s body inside the statue? Ewwww. So this is just a weird page.
Page 45: We’re back with Logan, and he’s drinking a beer, of course, which he shoves into the open chest of the frost giant to “keep … cold” for him. Oh, that rapscallion! He opens the crate that Loki wanted and takes something that’s glowing blue out of it.
Page 46: Another undeserved full-page spread, as Wolverine stands with a small blue rock floating above his hand. “Ain’t we a helluva pair?” he says, and that’s supposed to be dramatic, I guess. I have no idea what that thing is. An Infinity Gem, I guess, but who knows. I guess a mystery is fine.
Page 47: In a spaceship, “the daughter of Thanos” feels that another “Infinity Stone” (yay, I was right!) has been found. She’s thinking about the “coming war” and “how she can win it.” After that brief, two-panel interlude, we’re in South Africa, as Loki has decided to check things out. He already knows he’s not getting the Infinity Stone, but he doesn’t seem too put out by it. He knows there are other sources of power, like the Celestial he just found, which tells him to “summon … the final host,” and Loki thinks that’s a capital idea.
Page 48: If we ever left our narrator, we’re back with them, as they’re talking pretentiously again. He/She is talking about heroes rising and falling, and cataclysms being averted, “but this moment feels different.” It’s looming so close, in many different ways, and “never have we felt so incapable of facing it,” because we’re “so very lost.” We get three panels, one of Ghost Driver zipping across the desert (I thought he was going to the dig?), one of Logan’s abandoned truck, which appears (hilariously) to have the beer-filled trailer detached, so presumably Logan is dragging it with him because the man digs his beer! The middle panel shows Riri Williams sitting at a bar drinking (or not drinking, as she’s holding her straw in her hand) a fancy drink while Sam and Jane make out in the background. This is another weird panel. Riri is 15, so if she’s at a bar, why is she at a bar? Why are there three straws in the fancy drink? Were they all sharing? That’s just weird. Why are Jane and Sam making out, standing up, in public? I was reading something recently about things that happen in fiction that rarely, if ever, happen in real life, and making out very intensely in public was one of them. You never see people slobbering all over each other in public – sure, there’s a bit of kissing, but not the heavy petting we’re getting from Chick Thor and Not Cap. Why is Riri so pissed off? I get that she’s the third wheel, but is she jealous of Jane … or Sam? And yes, that is rude of Sam and Jane to go off and stick tongues into mouths when their 15-year-old teammate is hanging out with them. Finally, why are they at a bar (maybe) in full costume? Go home and change, you weirdos! There are a lot of things wrong with this panel, is what I’m saying.
Page 49: This is a four-panel stack that occurs in deep space. A star is in the center of each panel, and gasses around the star slowly form an open hand. In the final panel, a hand from inside a spaceship (presumably) reaches for the hand outside. The narrator drones about what “we” can do, and figures they’ll do what they always do, which is “stand on the shoulders of super geniuses and space gods, close our eyes and imagine a better, brighter, more amazing tomorrow. Then bring it to life.” Works for me! The narrator says they’ll bring something to life that is [adjective], [adjective], [adjective], and [adjective}, until they get to “something fantas –” before the hand reaches toward the space hand and someone off-panel says “What are you doing?”
Page 50: Two kids are riding weird space motorcycles. The girl is Valeria Richards, and she’s our narrator. Huzzah! The other is her brother Franklin, and he’s eager to explore another universe. She says under her breath that she’d like to explore a certain universe, by which I assume she means ours. For now, they’re racing each other and calling each other Buttface and Farthead. You’ll recall a few years ago that Jonathan Hickman got a tiny bit of blowback because they called each other “retards.” I’m glad they’ve moved on from that. The last thing she says is “I am closing my eyes now. And imagining a way home. I’ll see ya when I get there.” The books ends, not with an “end,” but with a “4.” Hmmm. Anyway, Valeria has a ponytail that is sticking out of her helmet. The fact that she’s wearing a helmet makes me believe that this deep space is much like ours, in that you can’t breathe in it. So how does her hair flow freely outside the helmet without compromising her enclosed environment? Shouldn’t she be dead? Super-genius, my ass. And I don’t like Valeria, because writers and artists have no idea how to depict her. If she’s only 3 years old, she doesn’t look it, because artists aren’t drawing like that. Having her say “farthead” doesn’t make her a kid, and I get that she’s a super-genius, but she rarely acts like a kid except to insult her brother. Kids are very hard to write, and it would be nice if someone could do it well. I mean, if she’s 10 years old, I could get the way she’s drawn and written, but apparently she’s not older than 5. Maybe now she’s a bit older because the FF have been out of the loop for so long.
Anyway, that’s the end. Jason Aaron wrote this thing, and I love how the artists are Esad Ribić and Steve McNiven, with “additional artists,” which I am not going to list, as there are 11 (!!!!) pencil artists listed. I’m not entirely sure who drew what – a few pages are somewhat obvious, but Marvel should have just done a page-by-page breakdown of the artwork. It’s not an ugly book, but it is kind of a mess, artistically.
Then we get all the “extras,” the stuff that Marvel has decided we’ve missed over the years so now they’re putting it back in to draw readers back. We get a bunch of ads for their upcoming comics done in an old-school style, which is kind of fun. There’s an ad for Alex Ross’s art and for the Chicago comic con, but everything else is for new comics or Marvel-related stuff. If they put ads for X-ray spex or those metal soldier kits, then it would be old-school. At the back, we get a “Stan’s Soapbix” kind of thing from Axel Alonso, reminiscing about the good old days of Marvel comics and how they’re getting back to that. He posits a bunch of questions, asking us if we ever wondered what would happen if, and then lists a bunch of things that are coming up. They sound fine, but hidden in Alonso’s reminiscing is a crucial point I’ll get back to. Then we get an announcement about a new FOOM – “Friends Of Ol’ Marvel” – which was a fanzine from the 1970s. I guess it will be coming to comics stores, but I don’t know if it will just show up or if you have to pay for it. I think the latter. You can also subscribe to the Marvel podcast, and they’re bringing back Marvel stamps, which I’d never heard of, but I guess they were a thing. Finally, there’s a checklist for the new books, even though this isn’t a reboot at all. No sir, no reboot.
It’s nice that Marvel tries to make their comics look old-school, but there’s a crucial point they forgot tucked away inside Alonso’s reminiscing, as I noted. He was writing about buying Amazing Spider-Man #131 (or rather, his grandmother buying him Amazing Spider-Man #131) at a five-and-dime. So what we have here is Alonso going into a convenience store and buying a comic for 20 cents. Specialty comic stores didn’t exist, and that’s fine – comic stores have been, by and large, a boon to creativity in comics if not to sales. Alonso paid two thin dimes for his comic book, and right there is the problem with Marvel (and DC, too, but we’re talking about Marvel here). Marvel wants to appeal to our nostalgia, but they’re still charging 4 dollars for a comic, which outpaces inflation by a bit. In 1974 dollars (which is when Amazing Spider-Man #131 hit the stands), $3.99 is 77 cents, meaning you could almost buy FOUR 20-cent comics for the price of one today. According to the Grand Comics Database, ASM #131 was only 19 pages long, so the length argument that some make doesn’t hold water here, but if Marvel keeps charging this much for comics, a lot of people won’t buy them, no matter how “old-school” the advertisements appear. But Marvel doesn’t want to hear that. They would much rather make silly cosmetic changes and hope it fools people. Maybe they’re right?
Anyway, this comic itself is kind of crap. Aaron isn’t a bad writer, but he never seems to do superheroes all that well, and when you take into account that he’s trying to rewrite Marvel history a bit, it becomes even clunkier. I thought this was just a one-shot, but I see now it’s more like DC: Rebirth than Marvel wants to admit – that too simply set up a bunch of plot threads that other writers could or could not pick up on, and DC is just now getting around to addressing some of them. So yeah, Marvel – not a reboot at all, I get it. So it’s kind of a mess, and not a terribly interesting one, at that, because it’s all set-up. I mean, we get a wasted page showing up the Black Panther’s intergalactic empire? What’s up with that? I mean, it might be interesting, but it has no context whatsoever in this book. The Steve Rogers, Thor, Tony Stark, Deadpool, Doctor Strange and Iron Fist, Jarvis, Johnny Storm and Thing, Sakaar, and Jean Grey pages are also just teasers. That’s to be expected, but we already know that the “real” heroes are coming back, so who cares about seeing Steve Rogers moping around in a diner? And has Starbrand already been incorporated into the Marvel Universe, or is this new? I think the New Universe should stay in 1986 were it belongs.
Aaron has a thankless job, and like DC: Rebirth and some of the other big event comics over the years, this is sausage-making at its most obvious. It’s full of “cool” moments, but as I’ve said for years, cool moments exist only because writers take the time – sometimes years – to build up to them. Just throwing Wolverine in to a book and having him pop his claws might be a dog whistle to a lot of fans, but it’s empty “coolness” because it relies on our memories of Wolverine using his claws in other, far cooler situations, and so we take that emotion and apply it to a, frankly, dumb scene where he guts a frost giant. The scene with Thor, Captain America, and Ironheart where Jane “allows” Riri to say “Avengers assemble” is supposed to e funny, of course, because a genius like Riri doesn’t know the “assemble” part, but it still rings false because it’s too meta. And then we get to Valeria’s narration, in which she seems to know exactly what’s happening on Earth even though she’s in another universe, or at least really far from Earth. Again, I get that she’s a genius, but that seems unlikely. We have to suspend our disbelief a bit, but it’s difficult when the final page shows us that Valeria is light-years away. Intergalactic travel is far easier in the Marvel Universe than ours, but still.
So that’s Marvel Legacy #1. I still think replacing the word “legacy” with “Pop Tart” every time would make the book more fun and interesting. Joey Q didn’t ask me, though. This is the kind of forward thinking I will bring to the X-Men, Joey Q! Give me a call!
[Edit: We were having some technical difficulties with the blog over the past few days, so this post got lost in the wash for a bit. I reposted it, but I’m not sure if the comments are coming back or not. Sorry!]