As we enter a new era of Marvel Comics, I’ll be providing a weekly report on all Legacy titles. Your one-stop guide to what’s going on in the 616 universe from MFR’s resident Marvel fan. Above you’ll see Marvel’s report card for the week, then below we’ll dive into each book. Let’s dig in!
***SPOILERS LIE AHEAD***
“Worlds Collide” Part Two
Chapter two of the Champions/Avengers crossover is all about civilian rescue. Mark Waid’s super-teams continue to combine their efforts to stop a global threat. Although we haven’t seen him yet, we know The High Evolutionary is pulling the string behind the scenes.
This was another valiant effort by Waid and artist Humberto Ramos to juggle this plus-sized roster. In splitting the characters up into smaller teams, we get the most out of interactions and collaboration of abilities.
Hercules and Hulk together steal the most scenes, but it’s the synthezoid’s that take center stage. Vision and his daughter, Viv, have a tragically dark family situation. There’s a lot to explore there after the events of Tom King’s Vision, repairing their shattered relationship is the emotional core of this story so far.
With twelve issues under his belt with these teenaged heroes, Waid has a handle and clear voice for the Champions. It’s the perfect time for readers to jump in on them with this crossover, now that they’re more sorted out and developed.
This issue had moments where it felt like it was dragging its feet, especially given that we haven’t actually gotten to our main villain. The character interactions and blossoming chemistry outweigh my growing impatience. The High Evolutionary is an all-time great Marvel villain, I anxiously await his arrival.
“The Newer Mutants” Part One
Cable is getting the band back together, collecting classic X-Men favorites in order to solve the murder of an External. Shatterstar, Longshot, and Doop follow Nathan Summers into the Hellfire Club. Outside of the cast itself, there isn’t really anything to celebrate in this monumental dropping of the ball.
Ed Brisson is one of the stronger writers currently on Marvel’s payroll, his script and dialogue here aren’t an issue. Cable #150 starts off with a strong premise, buy-able chemistry, and the X-Men’s all-time MVP, Doop. Unfortunately, the visual vomit we’re exposed to hijacks the story and only gets worse as the issue goes on.
The art is noticeably 90s, and not in a good way. It makes for some fun costume design but doesn’t do the book any favors whenever there’s a closeup shot of someone’s dull face. There’s a vein in Cable’s neck that is unnecessarily distracting. Footwear and hands also appear to be a major weakness for Jon Malin.
Anybody who gave that Thunderbolts book a try last year will find the same awful art here. I don’t like to be overly negative or exaggerate just because I personally don’t like something, but I legitimately don’t understand how Malin’s art is considered passable by Marvel Comics. Brisson deserves better.
Cable isn’t a totally lost cause, the cast alone will be why most readers stick around. However, that’s the main problem, the script assumes that having these characters together is enough to hook people. I love getting the team together as much as the next kid who grew up watching D2: The Mighty Ducks, but there needs to be more substance than that.
Doop is the G.O.A.T. but the art in this issue is atrocious. This issue was a major disappointment and will probably do a lot of damage for those on the fence with Marvel who were excited for this title.
Incredible Hulk #709
“Return To Planet Hulk” Part One
Amadeus Cho ditches total awesomeness for a more incredible sensibility. Mistaking him for Bruce Banner, the inhabitants of Sakaar summon the Hulk to once again be their champion and save them from an unruly warlord.
Having Amadeus seclude himself in space to get a better handle on his anger is a better-than-Banner decision. Writer Greg Pak has spent plenty of time with both Cho and Hulk comics in general, now is the time for a big step forward. Much like with Champions, readers coming to this title for the first time are getting a more developed and polished version.
Planet Hulk is a classic, having Pak write this return to Sakaar story is crucial. It feels good to be back and to get right to the action in this first installment. Cho is flirting with his dark side, making him a more relatable and complex person. He’s got the curse of the Hulk, but is more likable than Bruce. This next exciting chapter for the character will be huge in solidifying him in Hulk history.
The inner Hulk versus Amadeus “taking the wheel” device is delightfully creative. The struggle with his anger and demons makes Amadeus into a much more recognizable Hulk for those who struggled to connect with his Totally Awesome days. Greg Land gets the madness going in spectacular fashion once the arena action ignites.
“Return To Planet Hulk” gets off to a great start, hellbent on winning over skeptics and the anti-Amadeus community. It’s time to give this Hulk a chance as we revisit Sakaar with the same man who took us there the first time.
Invincible Iron Man #593
“The Search For Tony Stark” Part One
With control of Stark Industries hanging in the balance, the four women in Tony’s comatose life (Riri, MJ, Friday, and Amanda) must band together and solve the mystery of his sudden disappearance.
What gets lost in all of the distracting hatred thrown at Riri Williams is that Brian Michael Bendis has been delivering effective Iron Man stories for almost two years. He has a great voice for Tony Stark with a respectable handle on Stark’s history and supporting cast. As we approach Tony’s inevitable return, Bendis has the opportunity to tie two years of work together while bringing back a character he writes particularly well.
Heavily doused in comic book mystery, this arc could potentially win Bendis back some of his harsher critics. Between this and Defenders, so far he’s having a really strong showing in Marvel Legacy.
Stefano Caselli, Alex Maleev, and Marte Gracia do a splendid job keeping the eyes entertained during a dialogue heavy setup issue. The style changes are smooth and warranted, never losing a step. This art team did not disappoint in making this cornerstone title shine when it needed to right out of the gate.
Bendis’ Infamous Iron Man has been one of the comics keeping the Fantastic Four flame lit in the Richards’ family’s absence. That trend continues here with heavy Doom involvement and a tense moment between he and The Thing, which is also beautiful.
Comic books are always best when there’s an element of mystery. There’s a lot more going on here than just bringing Tony Stark back eventually, Invincible Iron Man promises to be as grand as Legacy needs it to be.
Luke Cage #166
“CAGED!” Part One
David F. Walker has been writing Luke Cage for almost a year straight, beginning with the stellar Power Man & Iron Fist series. He’s established himself as the premiere voice of the character. To start Legacy, Walker sends Cage out on a road trip that takes an unexpected turn and he winds up back in prison down south.
You might expect that another story about Luke Cage returning to a prison scenario would feel like treading water, but that’s not the case. Continuing the trend of most Legacy books, this arc brings back a classic villain and throws Luke into an uncomfortable situation.
Even if this were a stale story, Walker has such a firm grasp on Luke’s voice that almost any script would be worth reading. Every bit of dialogue flows out of his mouth, sounding so natural, making it easy for readers to buy-in.
Walker has Cage’s soul on display at all times, his inevitable triumph over this unjust incarceration will feel like an actual achievement for the character. Guillermo Sanna and Marcio Menyz play a big role in selling the dialogue and script. If you took away every word balloon, you could easily put together the story and how Luke feels about it at any time.
Walker isn’t a writer that’s afraid to be politically charged when he sees fit, he’s able to get his point across tastefully and more subtly than other writers trying to tackle the subject of racism.
Quite possibly the strongest corner of Marvel right now is all of its Defenders books. Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and the Defenders series all make for a very strong lineup of comics.
Mighty Thor #700
“The Death Of The Mighty Thor” Part One
Jason Aaron is the Thunder God. The vast tapestry of Asgardian mythology he’s constructed over the past five years solidifies him as one of the most prolific and effective Thor writers in Marvel history.
Mighty Thor #700 is a culmination of all the crucial stories of Aaron’s run. This book is on such a grand scale it could be considered its own event. Every different era of Thor’s life has its own distinct personality and atmosphere, this story is touching on all of them.
The mythos of the Odinson and Jane Foster aren’t the only ones being explored. Galactus and another major cosmic character take on new personas and we even get a cosmic god battle. Every box can be marked on the checklist for epic Thor comics with this issue.
The art style shift, showing either the next scene or different time period, is flawless. Each style is beautiful crafted and fitting, helping to keep this fifty-page epic feel fresh at every page turn. Every single artist on this book delivers on every page.
Jason Aaron is a top talent in the industry, a top talent for Marvel, and an all-time great for Thor writers. If you aren’t reading Mighty Thor right now, you’re severely depriving yourself. A run like this doesn’t happen very often anymore, and a story this epic is why many of us read comics in the first place, it’s a major achievement.
Monsters Unleashed #7
“And Lo There Came… A Poison!” Part One
Giant monsters, dinosaurs, robots, and an Inhuman kid who brings them to life. Where was this book when I was a kid? Cullen Bunn’s Monsters Unleashed is a perfect series for any kid that likes monsters even a little bit.
Kid Kaiju has been drawing in his sleep and accidentally summons a nightmare version of Fin Fang Foom. Kei and his monster squad fight to survive and summon a Foom of their own.
Each creature conjured by Kid Kaiju is creative and fun, the art tends to lack a little bit when it comes to the human characters and their expressions. Regardless, there is plenty to love about this series by any kid interested in monster movies or comic books. It’s a book that encourages creativity and artistic expression while embracing stranger subject matter.
It’s not afraid to be dumb fun when it needs to be, any kid can pick this up and dive in. Monsters Unleashed is also not a hollow reading experience, there’s more to the story than giant monster fights. I would recommend this for any young reader.
Spider Gwen #25
“Gwenom” Part One
The novelty of “Gwen Stacy EVERYTHING” is still going strong. If you’re only going to pay attention to one “Gwen-ything” it should be Spider Gwen. This “elseworlds” book still continues to be surprisingly fulfilling. Jason Latour is far from out of ideas.
Every Spider-Person has to have their own Venom story at some point. It’s hard not to be burnt out on symbiotes at this point, but this is something different. Gwenom is finally the new take on a tired Spidey trope, breathing new life into Venom for the first time since Anti-Venom.
This particularly sandbox has a lot left to explore. All the alternative versions of familiar Marvel characters are delightful. Matt Murdock as the Kingpin of crime, in particular, will never stop being enjoyable. The same goes for this universe’s Frank Castle.
Spider Gwen‘s hyper-stylized art is extremely appealing, adding a layer of youthful spirit. This isn’t just a fresh take on Venom through the narrative, but a unique take on the costume as well. Robbi Rodriguez and Rico Renzi pull their own weight as far as keeping this book fresh and distinctive.
X-Men: Gold #14
“Mojo Worldwide” Part Three
The X-Men: Gold/Blue crossover keeps rolling, as smaller crossovers like this should. Mojo continues throwing our mutant heroes into historical X-Men scenarios to see who survives in pursuit of good ratings.
Three issues into this story and it hasn’t dropped the “dumb fun” appeal. It’s so important for an X-Men arc like this right now. Writers Marc Guggenheim and Cullen Bunn have a consistency between them, focusing on making mutants fun again.
Each change of scenario comes with a change of wardrobe and surroundings, and it’s effective every time. Having Longshot there to comment on the ridiculousness, while also maintaining his own ridiculous pursuits, is an absolute joy.
Getting each team’s perspective and commentary on specific moments in X-Men history, whether they were present or not, plays well. Guggenheim doesn’t waste the chance he’s given to poke fun at X-Men continuity.
Cyclops coming to terms with his team’s cooperation with Magneto back home by seeing him in his evil hay day plants an interesting seed for the future. Given how many heroes bite the dust this issue, Bloodstorm probably isn’t actually dead which is unfortunate.
Another consistent highlight within this crossover is the art. Mark Laming and Rain Beredo make this a colorful and explosive experience. They also manage to keep all the jumping around from becoming a challenge to follow.
Keeping this crossover on a weekly release schedule will keep it from getting stale. This is an easily digestible story that pokes fun at the X-Men continuity in a tasteful way, using the most tasteless but enjoyable villain.
Check back next week for our coverage of all things Marvel Legacy and let us know what you’ve read in the comments below!