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 your resident Marvel fanatic. Above you’ll see Marvel Legacy’s report card for the week, then below we’ll dive into each book. Let’s dig in!
Also, check out our coverage from the previous weeks!
***SPOILERS LIE AHEAD***
“Exterminatrix” Part Three
I think most people’s issue with this series are that sending America to school seems like a step back from Ultimates. That being said, the strongest moments come from America Chavez’s fellow students. Their obsession and support for Chavez mirrors our own.
Gabby Rivera provides plenty of great little character moments from supporting characters. The only thing holding this story back is the struggle to care about Exterminatrix. She’s just an ultimately lame villain in a mostly lame plot.
What isn’t lame is how she, and every thing else in this comic, are illustrated and colored. The driving force of this series continues to be the art. Flaviano and Jen Bartel have fun with the layouts and structure of these pages. The visual characteristics and design of the supporting cast are always interesting.
The scene on the ancestral place was spectacular. Particularly the creative panel of America’s shadow portraying the evolution of her life. America’s conversation with her two guardian ancestors is beautifully laid out. Jordan Gibson and Chris O’Halloran make these pages sing with an exploding array of color.
Even if you haven’t been following along before this arc, the community of America Chavez supporters is fun and warrants further exploration. There’s plenty to like about America, there’s potential for this book to grow past this arc, unfortunately it’s among the latest handful of titles being cancelled.
“Worlds Collide” Part Six
Mark Waid wasn’t done with High Evolutionary or Viv just yet. Their conversation at the core of this issue is relevant and interesting. This final chapter of the crossover is mostly an epilogue, setting up the next arc for Champions.
That synthezoid Viv has to be High Evolutionary, right? Maybe. The Visions continue to be at the heart of this story, Waid is mining them for all their worth in an effective way. Not bleeding them dry, but exploring where he can take them since nobody else bothered to after Tom King’s series.
High Evolutionary was in great hands during this crossover story. Mark Waid took good care of the classic Marvel villain, dusting him off for a worthy tale.
Humberto Ramos keeps pumping out solid comic book cartooning. He’s probably the most consistent artist as far as keeping the kids looking like actual kids. The next issue will see the team’s ranks expand, Ramos having new characters to play with is reason enough to stay onboard.
The Champions come out of “Worlds Collide” as a stronger bunch. Even with Nova threatening to leave, this new mess they find themselves in should be fun to sort out.
The Defenders #8
“Kingpins Of New York” Part Three
You couldn’t ask for a better parting gift from Brian Michael Bendis as he prepares to leave Marvel. Even the intro page, with Frank Castle getting his mugshot taken, is a creative use of something readers probably skip over generally.
Bendis is at his best again, making this little team of New York’s finest street heroes into the most beloved superhero team around. This is exactly what the Netflix show was supposed to be, this comic should be what it strives to be going forward.
Daredevil’s unmasking to his teammates, and their corresponding reactions, is one of the most genuine character scenes I’ve read in a while. Bendis is pumping so much heart into this cast, extracting everything he possibly can from each interaction.
Bringing in The Hood is an unexpected use of continuity by Bendis, he usually doesn’t care to acknowledge any outside of his own. If there’s anyone who would take offense to Diamondback and Black Cat’s attempts at filling the Kingpin vacancy, it’s The Hood.
David Marquez and Justin Ponsor are putting on a real show, almost every panel is breathe taking. Actions as simple as Fixer turning to look at Diamondback walking through the door offers the reader a visual to get lost in.
Diamondback telling the story of Kingpin’s beginnings is a dazzling journey. Transitioning between a black and white, noir scene and a menacing Diamondback standing before a striking red background light. Once the danger erupts and bullets start flying, that noir scene sees a shift to yellow for Fisk’s men and red for their former boss meeting his demise. It’s stunning.
That’s only the tip of the iceberg as far as Ponsor’s color, the very next scene is a beautiful assault on Deadpool’s face by the Defenders. Each of their strikes are illuminated by their respective primary color. From there, the art goes in so many intricately crafted directions, playing with the platform in so many different ways. I could spend an eternity breaking it all down.
This comic book is so much more than a tie-in to a tv series. Defenders is a monumental accomplishment from every standpoint, every member of the creative team is doing career work.
Bendis leaving Marvel is exciting for the sake of change at the “Big 2” but at the expense of this series, I don’t know if it’s worth it. Defenders will leave a gaping hole in Marvel’s lineup.
Guardians Of The Galaxy #149
“Infinity Quest” Part Four
Rocket’s arc as a Nova Corpsman rising through the ranks comes to a head. He’s uncovered a plot by the Talons and cleverly crafts a ruse to strike them down.
Our time spent with the Nova Corps has been a blast. By no means was this arc a standard Guardians story, but Duggan proved once again he can take these characters anywhere and extract comic book gold.
It’s great to see Cosmo back in action, his exchanges with Scott Lang are hilarious. It remains to be seen whether we’ll get to see this big Groot showdown with the other trees in this series (ending at 150) or in whatever comes next. With Groot starting to grow again, Cosmo and Adam Warlock returning, this is starting to look more like the GOTG of old.
I’m excited to see what Duggan does with these characters given what he’s accomplished with the main cast already. Everything Gerry does with cosmic characters has been spectacular and fresh.
In addition to the beautiful design and layouts we’ve grown accustomed to, the art does an exceptional job in differentiating textures. You can feel with your hands holding this comic the different texture of the Talon suits, Nova helmets, the fur around Talonar’s collar, the rock structures inside the Nova Corps, Rocket’s fur, etc. It starts with Marcus To’s pencils, then Ian Herring gives these textures a face with his color choices.
The next issue is sadly the last of this ongoing series. We’re promised something exciting is to follow the finale, and what a finale it’s shaping up to be. It’ll be a real shame if Duggan, To, and Herring part ways in whatever’s next for our favorite cosmic scoundrels.
Doctor Strange #383
“Loki: Sorcerer Supreme” Part Three
Donny Cates is able to extract these brilliant comedy bits from Strange and his supporting cast without betraying the character. These are tough times for Stephen Strange and his sarcastically sad outlook, and thirst for revenge, is voiced perfectly.
The conversational dialogue is a delightful treat. Stephen’s interactions with every single character are memorable by way of heart, humor, or sheer badass.
How a writer plays with the rules of magic play a major role in how effective a Doctor Strange run is. In that case, we’re in really good hands.
Cates is already a comic book treasure, Marvel needs to keep him happy and busy. Donny could easily be another Tom King and Marvel can’t afford to lose another King to DC.
Niko Henrichon’s flashback sketch art is fantastic, telling the story of how Loki became Sorcerer Supreme. The spectacle and wonder of magic and sorcery gets raised to an even higher level through Walta’s layouts.
Whether it’s the snowy, quiet town that Wong lives in, or the Asgardian thrown room throw-down, Gabriel Hernandez Walta and Jordie Bellaire deliver every time. The scale and dreamy light effects of the gigantic magic tree make Stephen’s desperate attempt at gaining magic back carry so much more weight.
Cates, Walta, and Bellaire are a dynamite creative trio operating on a different wavelength than the rest of us. Gorgeous art, great dialogue, and a script full of magical twists and turns makes this a must-read for every Marvel fan.
“Survival Of The Fittest” Part One
Gen-X makes its Marvel Legacy debut, along with the news that it’ll be cancelled (along with a bunch of others). Despite Christina Strain’s best efforts to make what is an enjoyable, quirky book about the misfit mutants, it’ll sadly be over soon.
While I’ve mostly enjoyed this series, it contradicts itself in one major way. Generation-X was supposed to be a book about the mutants at the institute that aren’t X-Men, the afterthoughts, the outcasts. Instead of getting an abstract book about what mutant life is like outside of X-Men missions, it’s the not-X-Men on smaller scale X-Men-like missions.
Even so, Strain still injects a ton of charm into these characters and it’s fun exploring them in the quieter moments. She cares about this silly cast and it shows. However, diving deeper into the abstract and away from super-heroics could’ve helped making this book feel more special.
The one major issue some people had with this series out of the gate was the odd Amilcar Pinna art style. Over the course of its short run, Pinna’s style has come into its own. As long as you can get past Tom Petty caricature mouths. Pinna’s approach works really well for certain characters, Bling being the best example.
Generation-X isn’t a perfect book, but it’s certainly enjoyable. What X-Men fan doesn’t love the little guys? The mutants with silly powers? They’re an important portion of the mutant population. Hopefully this isn’t the last we see of Christina Strain at Marvel.
The Incredible Hulk #711
“Return To Planet Hulk” Part Three
This story has been fast-paced and action-packed. There aren’t really any quiet moments for the characters to catch their breathe. Greg Pak’s pacing makes this issue an easy read, but the stakes of The Gauntlet lack because of it. Even so, this comic is still a blast.
What the story lacks in depth, it makes up for in action. It is a Hulk comic after all. Pak pokes fun at Thor: Ragnarok dialogue and pits Odinson against Amadeus in the fourth Gauntlet stage. Hopefully we get to dive into this stage a little more and take some time to learn why Odinson is here. The God of Thunder won’t be just another opponent the Hulk runs through.
Greg Land, Jay Leisten, and Frank D’Armata keep the carnage cranked up. These battle sequences are quick to read through but worth a second look to appreciate. Giant monsters and big, bulky Hulk covered in sci-fi weaponry is still entertaining.
Cory Petit showcases some spectacular lettering that’s hard not to notice. He pulls out an impressive array of different styles and uses for the letters that dictate most of the action.
“Return To Planet Hulk” isn’t a story to challenge the minds of its readers. However, it is one that certainly keeps us entertained with dazzling fight sequences and interesting creature designs. Which is exactly what it needed to be.
Luke Cage #168
“Caged!” Part Three
David F. Walker’s Luke Cage series is another that is ending soon. Walker can’t catch a break, he’s a consistently entertaining storyteller that just can’t seem to strike a chord with a larger Marvel audience. This comic meets the same fate his great Nighthawk, Occupy Avengers, and Power Man & Iron Fist series ultimately did.
It’s a shame to waste the voice that Walker has for Cage. His dialogue pours out and reads even better than his Netflix counterpart sounds. Even this restrained, half-brainwashed Cage has the perfect tone for Harlem’s Hero stuck in a sticky situation.
I appreciate being bold and taking Luke away from his usual surroundings, but this series has struggled to catch fire due to how boring it is. It’s Luke in another prison with a soulless cast surrounding him. The villain is the most enjoyable part of this arc, but even he doesn’t move the needle much.
Walker writes a fantastic Luke Cage, but I think avoiding the city has hurt this book tremendously. Hopefully he gets one more crack with the character and it’s more like his brilliant Power Man & Iron Fist comic.
Reveals are plotted well, unveiled effectively, and feature striking colors. There’s not a lot to play with in a story taking place in a mine under a prison, but Guillermo Sanna and Miroslav Mrva make due. The most interesting element of this story is the villain, and that’s almost entirely because of how he looks.
Another Marvel book with loads of potential falls flat and ultimately comes to a quick ending. Walker’s voice for Cage shouldn’t go to waste, hopefully Marvel gives him another shot and more creative space.
Marvel Two-In-One #1
“Fate Of The Four” Part One
Chip Zdarsky goes right for the heart of every Marvel fan desperately awaiting the return of our beloved Fantastic Four. A touching introduction flows into a moving speech by Ben Grimm about the Richards.
The Thing is very much the heart of this issue, and probably the entire Marvel universe at the moment. His tour through these crucial character interactions is both devastating and exciting. This story could really be something special.
The nine panel grid works exceptionally well in the opening page, depicting Johnny Storm’s reckless racing on the speedway. The full orange panel, as Johnny ignites out of his burning car, teases the beautiful image of a sizzling Storm leaving behind his wreck on the next page. Jim Cheung, Frank Martin, John Dell, and Walden Wong come out of the gates swinging.
Ben Grimm handling his tiny reading glasses is a delightful image. Spidey handing off the key to the Baxter building stuff, and Ben going through it all, is heartbreaking. Doom’s diabolical dialogue should bring a smile to any FF fan.
Readers will find a storm of emotions swirling around inside of them throughout this experience. This should’ve come out the first week of Legacy, it’s exactly what fans needed to read to put them at ease.
Zdarsky proves he was exactly the right man for the job. Jim Cheung and Frank Martin knock it out of the park, this is the most important comic of Marvel Legacy thus far.
Jason Aaron is spinning so many plates right now, but never loses track of any, nor does the reader. This run, and story arc, redefine what constitutes as an epic.
With stakes so high and dyer, the scene in the bar comes with a sigh of relief. Thor and Hercules arm-wrestling leads to Odinson and Thor herself getting together (and a cameo from Jason Aaron himself as a bar patron).
The dialogue between the worthy and unworthy is sensational, so much history between these who currently find themselves at opposite ends of the spectrum. Jason Aaron has been spinning Asgardian yarn for a long time and still keeps every plot in this long run from becoming stale. Jane Foster finds herself in a colossal dilemma.
There’s so much emotion and pain on display. Russell Dauterman and Matthew Wilson make the reader feel every bit of fury and darkness behind these characters’ eyes.
The art in this issue is as immense and heavy as the script. Joe Sabino also does some interesting work with his letters, not wasting the opportunity to have fun on a Thor title.
It’s an amazing accomplishment, what Aaron has done with Thor. The longevity and effectiveness after all these years never ceases to amaze. We’re headed for a big moment in what is easily one of the most prolific eras for Thor comics.
Old Man Logan #32
“Scarlet Samurai” Part Two
There will never be a shortage of people who have been waiting to take Logan out. Ed Brisson has concocted a stellar Kung Fu story starring our favorite grumpy, old mutant.
Brisson injects new life into the Hand, Logan, Silver Samurai, and a shocking character reveal I won’t spoil. It’s impressive how much of a departure “Scarlet Samurai” is from the previous arc. Ed is no one-trick pony, he reassures readers there’s still plenty to explore before the old man goes away.
Mike Deodato Jr. and Frank Martin have made sure the trend continues and this series is still one of the best looking comics at Marvel. Full of captivating layouts and brutal action, this book is an absolute spectacle.
Halfway between pop art and realistic character models, Deodato operates at the top of his game. The Japanese paint strokes give it an even more unique feel like an old school Kung-fu movie. It’s easy to forgive the gigantic man-hands Logan sports.
Now at thirty-two issues, Old Man Logan is still firing on all cylinders. Brisson, Deodato Jr., and Frank Martin are a powerhouse team delivering a brutal and effective comic sure to become essential reading for Wolverine fans.
Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #298
“Most Wanted” Part Three
With a number of issues now under his belt, Chip Zdarsky is able to get his jokes in without losing Peter Parker along the way. Zdarsky and J. Jonah Jameson are also proving to be a match made in comic book heaven, he steals every panel he’s in.
Everything from the intro page to the editor notes, Chip is executing each joke tastefully and confidently. He’s had himself a strong week with Marvel releases.
Adam Kubert and Juan Frigeri deliver tried and true superhero action with a slightly newer sheen and glimmer to it. Jason Keith keeps things light and fluid.
Now that Zdarsky has settled in to writing Spidey, this feels more like home. Spectacular Spidey is now in full stride. One of the most satisfying things at Marvel right now is Chip writing JJJ.
Ms. Marvel #25
“Teenage Wasteland” Part One
Kamala and her Ms. Marvel alter ego have gone missing, her friends try to don the mask and bolt in her absence. They uncover a sinister plot at an old folks home.
G. Willow Wilson gets the best out of her teenage characters, it never feels like an old person trying to infiltrate “fellow kids.” Not just in dialogue, but in attitude and outlook as well. It’s even more prominent in an issue that features exactly zero Kamala.
Nico Leon has a knack for facial expressions, furthering the sentiment in place by Wilson. Features and reactions can be as exaggerated just like every teenagers reaction to anything. It’s a fun style to read that makes it easy to relate to the characters.
Ian Herring uses a sometimes-watercolor-looking approach in his coloring. He utilizes a darker shade of the usual bright superhero colors, and the occasional striking solid background color. Herring adds a layer of warmth to these pages.
Ms. Marvel makes its Legacy debut without Kamala Khan, but instead we get a tone setting example of Wilson’s skill for writing teens.
“Gwenom” Part Three
Jason Latour keeps playing with these distorted Marvel characters in a genuinely exciting way. The shocks and twists of the narrative are based on what’s been accomplished in this comic, not just by flipping our expectations from the 616 versions of these people.
The framing of these panels is like that of a well crafted television series. The swarm of little black symbiote spiders, with the hot pink word balloons overtop, is a pleasing visual. Each issue of this story finds a new way to utilize the Venom symbiote in a way we haven’t seen before.
From the illuminated silhouette of characters in the night, to the scheme of a city alleyway, Rico Renzi litters this comic with stimulating color. Gwen’s fight against Punisher, in a swirling atmosphere of purple smoke, is intoxicating. If the old Hanna-Barbera cartoons and Franken-Berry had a baby, it would be the color pallet of this book. To clarify, that is a good thing.
Spider-Gwen continuously makes the case for “elseworld” tales. When crafted this well, they become so much more than just a distorted mirror.
Tales Of Suspense #100
“Red Ledger” Part One
For having the word “suspense” in the title, there isn’t much to be had here. An old Marvel classic comes back but in a mostly lackluster way.
The overdone shading on a lot of faces makes it look like everyone was just working underneath a car. Not to bust on Travel Foreman but there’s something off about Clint Barton. It just doesn’t look like our beloved Hawkeye.
Good thing Matthew Rosenberg’s voice for Clint is pretty good. It just doesn’t fit the blank slate, emotionless vessel. Otherwise, the art is pretty good. Heavy motion blur on Clint’s action scenes does more helping than hurting.
There isn’t really much to take away from this. It feels like a dull waste of two charismatic characters as they search for a character that it’s way too soon to bring back to life. It’s not awful, it’s just mostly boring.
Lastly, the point of that face mask Bucky wore in The Winter Soldier movie was to hide his identity from the audience and Steve, what purpose does it serve here? It’s irritating when our comic book iterations reflect their big screen counterparts for no reason.
Uncanny Avengers #30
“Stars And Garters” Part Three
This arc has been a bridge from one era to another for these Avengers. Taking our time with each character as they close one chapter and open another. It hasn’t needed any action to be supremely enthralling.
Jim Zub can seemingly put any two Avengers together and come away with a truckload of chemistry. He finds ways to connect these heroes that expose them at their core while also giving the reader some way to relate to it.
Every one of these intimate moments ends up giving us a smile to crack in one way or another. Scarlet Witch and Doctor Voodoo becoming an item is so obvious and wonderful, how did nobody think to pair them up before?
Right out of the gate, Sean Izaakse and Tamra Bonvillain explode with a gorgeously drawn and colored scene. Putting Wonder Man and Scarlet Witch in a fall setting, with changing leaves falling all around, was a brilliant decision.
It doesn’t stop there either, this entire issue is a stunning visual extravaganza to drool over.
With the Avengers books all folding into one weekly series, Uncanny Avengers is the one that will be missed most severely. This has been a top-notch comic about superheroes dealing with obstacles you can’t just punch through.
X-Men: Gold #18
“The Negative Zone War” Part Three
The X-Men caught up in a inter-dimensional conflict, full of fascinating creatures and treachery galore.
Kitty and Colossus’ slow developing rekindling of their romance has been paced so perfectly that every little moment of progress is fulfilling. Marc Guggenheim shows a lot of restraint and patience in his plotting. The longer he remains on this title, the stronger it will be.
There’s a lot of things happening in the background to pay off later, the foreground is filled with explosive action that never overstays it’s welcome.
Ken Lashley and Arif Prianto have more than kept up their part of the promise to return mutants to colorful and explosive glory. Lashley has a very jagged and sharp edge to his pencils. The costumes for this mission are great, the creature and environment designs are great, our mutants look great.
From top to bottom, this feels like an Uncanny X-Men story from the days before mutants were going extinct.