“Marvel Legacy.” This is the plan that’s going to return the company to creative and commercial dominance in the industry? Based on all of the teasers for the initiative Marvel released last Friday, their plan does not inspire confidence. While some of the plot points teased have promise — just what is Spider-Man going to do that will put him behind bars — others seem dubious from the start. Having the Punisher take up the War Machine armor of the deceased James Rhodes? Teasing the death of the Jane Foster Thor? A new Falcon series apparently starring Sam Wilson? These appear to be big steps back regarding Marvel’s diversity efforts and fans will be (even more) livid if they turn out to actually be true rather than just promotional images. Also, there were no new creative teams announced for any of these upcoming titles, save for the apparent confirmation that Greg Pak will still be writing “Weapon X” and the rumor that Ta-Nehisi Coates will be taking over “Captain America.” Maybe some good creative teams for the titles will get people excited, like the one for the one-shot that kicks this all off after the break:
Marvel Legacy #1: The “Rebirth” issue for the Marvel Universe, if you will. This comes to us from the two guys who gave us some great stories on “Thor: God of Thunder,” Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic. Aaron’s a great choice for writer here because he’s one of the few who is willing to fully embrace the insanity of the Marvel Universe in order to wring both humor and drama from it to fuel his stories. Ribic, on the other hand, has shown that between his run on “Thor” and the “Secret Wars” event series there’s nothing in this universe that he can’t bring to life and make it look epic in the process. There’s precious little info about the story being told here, which starts with the dawn of the human race, ends with a child’s prayer, and features returns that you’ve been hoping for and dreading. Yet if this is the “Rebirth” issue for the Marvel Universe, I’m hoping it means that Aaron has been given its keys in the way that Jonathan Hickman was back when he started writing “Avengers.” These universe-defining stories tend to work out best when it’s one guy at the steering wheel.
Secret Empire: Omega #1: Uh, will this be in the collection for the event series? Or maybe in the next “Captain America” collection? I’m bringing up the latter as a possibility because the solicitation text questions whether or not there can be redemption for Captain America. Call me cynical, but I’m going to guess that the answer will be “Yes.” Now it’s up to Nick Spencer and Andrea Sorrentino to make the journey to that point as interesting as they can.
Venomverse #’s 1-4 (of 5): All of this “Edge of Venomverse” business was building towards… a miniseries where a new race of aliens shows up to hunt Venom and all of his venom-ized buddies. The way the solicitation text describes these aliens, Poisons, makes them sound like “Evil Venoms” which… wasn’t that Carnage’s whole deal? I’m getting a distinct feeling of diminishing returns here. Cullen Bunn is writing the whole shebang. While he has done some solid work on other titles over the years, he’s never quite been exciting or consistent enough to get me to check out everything he does. So I doubt I’ll be missing much by passing on this one.
Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi — Captain Phasma #’s 1&2 (of 4): Based on her role in “The Force Awakens,” the character of Captain Phasma was created to do two things: Look intimidating and provide a moment of comic relief after Finn, Han, and Chewie decide to flush her down the garbage chute after they catch her. So yeah, if they want us to take Capt. Phasma as a serious character, let alone a serious villain, some work is needed here. “Hawkeye’s” Kelly Thompson has signed up for the difficult task of writing that story. Fortunately she has the assistance of artist Marco Checchetto who has shown that he’s one of the best “Star Wars” artists out there… provided he’s given enough time for the job. All this being said, the previous “Journey to the Next Star Wars Movie” miniseries didn’t set up a whole heck of a lot. Hopefully Phasma’s minor status within the “Star Wars” canon will allow Thompson the leeway she’ll need to tell a good story here.
Incredible Hulk by Jason Aaron & Indestructible Hulk by Mark Waid: Complete Collections: If you can only buy one “Complete Collection” featuring the Hulk this month, then make it the one written by Mr. Aaron. It’s not his best work in the Marvel Universe, particularly in the way the MacGuffin hunt in the second half fizzles out, but it’s got plenty of crazy and an interesting take on the Banner/Hulk relationship. Specifically in the way the former needs the latter to stay sane. Waid’s work on “Indestructible” is pretty good, especially in its first eight issues, but the dealbreaker here is that the run collected here is incomplete. As it only collects the “Indestructible” series and not the first four of the “Hulk” series (also written by Waid) that follow, this so-called “Complete Collection” will be ending on a giant cliffhanger. Maybe someone at Marvel will get a clue before it goes to print and those four issues will be added to this collection, making it truly “Complete.” Until then, avoid.
Royals vol. 1: Beyond Inhuman: Okay, so I have until September to decide if having Al Ewing writing about the Inhumans finally gets me to pick up one of their ongoing titles. If I’m being completely honest with myself, it probably will. Ewing managed the incredibly tricky task of not only following up on plot points regarding Loki and the Avengers from Kieron Gillen and Jonathan Hickman’s runs on the characters, but doing it really well. That third volume of “New Avengers” is still the year’s high point for Marvel superhero stories in my opinion. Now it’s time to see if he can work the same magic with characters I’ve been predisposed to feel annoyed with!
Star Wars: The Screaming Citadel: Aaron and Gillen team up for another “Star Wars” crossover by having Luke Skywalker and Doctor Aphra to visit the title place. It sounds lovely. Particularly when you consider that its queen is said to be one of the galaxy’s most reclusive, powerful, and dangerous women, and that Gillen has described the tone of the story as “gothic horror.” Yeah, I’m sure that’ll work out real well for Luke and Aphra. Ditto for Leia and Han when they show up as the calvary. Because you know that’s going to happen too.
Wolverine: Old Man Logan vol. 5: Jeff Lemire wraps up his run on this title with something we all knew was coming: Time travel! A failure from his past (which is not really our future anymore) causes Old Man Logan to seek some dubious help to set it right. This leads to a trip through the character’s past that promises to be equal parts fun and heartbreaking. Maybe more of the latter than the former, given how OML’s adventures in this series tend to roll.
Spider-Man/Deadpool vol. 3: Itsy-Bitsy: You can’t rush greatness, but you can run a lot of fill-in issues between it. This volume collects the rest of the Joe Kelly/Ed McGuinness run in the form of issues #9-10, 13-14, and 17-18 wherein the two team-up heroes take down their murderous daughter! Well, “daughter” only in a quasi-genetic sense as Itsy-Bitsy was made when a woman was injected with both Spidey and Deadpool’s DNA. Now the Wall-Crawler and the Merc With a Mouth have to take her down (non-lethally I bet) and put a stop to the people who got this business started in the first place (I think there might be some lethality there).