As we find ourselves in 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 fanatic. Below, we’ll dive into each book from this week and then a Marvel Legacy report card. Let’s dig in!
Also, check out our coverage from the previous weeks!
***SPOILERS LIE AHEAD***
X-Men: Gold #20
“The Negative Zone War” Part Five
There’s nothing wrong with the contents of this issue but, other than a moment of clarity for Kitty, it’s mostly an unnecessary extension to this Negative Zone story. It’s a quick read where the only thing you really need to take with you afterwards is the final page.
Storm is a badass, with or without her powers, and Ink is a mutant I wouldn’t mind seeing more of. This is the second time Nightcrawler has brushed off being impaled in a three issue span.
Marc Guggenheim has set a standard with the preceding nineteen issues that was not met here. This felt cheap, but certainly wasn’t any cheaper to purchase. This issue was clearly tacked on late as a poor transition into the next story. Everything that needed to be said in the Negative Zone was already said, other than Kitty accepting Peter’s proposal.
There isn’t much to take away from the art either. Storm’s powerless fight against an aggressive indigenous creature is exciting, but that’s about it. There’s no sense of urgency or weight anywhere else, even Kitty’s emotional breakdown.
X-Men: Gold #20 is a very forgetful and unnecessary epilogue outside of the final page. Guggenheim is better than this, hopefully well back on track with the next arc.
Weapon X #13
“Nuke-Clear War” Part Two
Maybe this book benefits from the Legacy bump after all, this was easily the best issue of the series. Greg Pak doesn’t waste time trying to beef up this drug-addict GI JOE story with over-justification. It’s a run-and-gun story, which is a drastic improvement.
The less time we spend diving into anyone’s motivations, the better. That’s what plagued the clunky and mind-numbing WMD story from the beginning. It serves the characters much better when this comic isn’t trying to be something it’s not.
This is a notable step-up for the art. Duke is an absolute maniac, Yildiray Cinar uses every panel to push those insane eyes of his into your brain. Frank D’Armata makes good use of the red, white, and blue that clearly comes with a Duke story.
This issue is mostly action, and it goes down smooth. It’s not overly bloody or macho, it’s dumb comic book violence and fun.
Duke may be the perfect adversary for the Weapon X team, given how much better this issue was than the previous twelve. Being honest with itself makes this Weapon X pill easier to swallow than the ones Duke takes.
Spirits Of Vengeance #4
“War At The Gates Of Hell” Part Four
Of all the Marvel Legacy titles counting down to their final issue, SOF is the one that shows it the least. Victor Gischler doesn’t take his foot off the gas even slightly.
We visit a lot of different settings and people in this one issue, yet it never gets confusing or convoluted. Gischler juggled his cast well without diminishing anyone’s role. So much has happened in just four issues, it’s a shame there’s only one left.
The dreadful and dark, lesser seen side of the 616 universe is full of diverse and interesting characters. There’s a wonderful balance of sarcasm and conflict, nothing in this ridiculous spectrum takes itself too seriously but is still effective and threatening.
David Baldeón and Andres Mossa further that sentiment with beautiful layouts and exaggerated character work. The world these characters conduct themselves in is one of dark wonder illuminated only by the glow of neon signs and flames. It’s a unique brand of cartooning that has tons to offer.
There’s clearly much more for this creative team to say than what we’ll ultimately get after the next issue. Spirits Of Vengeance is a strong example of Marvel wasting potential. This is a side of the 616 that needs more exploration.
Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #299
“Most Wanted” Part Three
The Investigative Journalist Adventures of JJJ are currently the best thing about all of Spidey comics. Having most of the Superior Foes gang together made me realize Zdarsky would be the perfect person to continue Nick Spencer’s vision if it were ever on the table.
Zdarsky’s enthusiasm and wit have progressed since the beginning of this run. He does a lot less with a lot more now.
Instead of spending the whole issue trying to convince you it’s funny, he can get big laughs out of small moments and deliver absurd comic book twists, like the cliffhanger of this issue.
Adam Kubert’s “Achille’s Heal” seems to be hands, there are some really ugly mits in here. Other than a few worm-thumbs, this is another solid effort by Kubert & Juan Frigeri. They’re capable of using a lot of lines in costume design without going overboard like every New 52 design.
Spectacular Spidey has really come into its own now that the tone is more realized and cemented. We approach the big #300 with plenty of momentum.
No matter how long we’ve known of the impending death of Jane Foster, it doesn’t make it any less devastating. That’s the sign of how brilliant Jason Aaron’s writing is. His deep connection to these characters overcomes any amount of spoiler you’re exposed to.
The sequence where Strange is breaking down Jane’s cancer progression. Her slow walk towards the hammer causing her death. It’s all a cinematic, slow-motion gut-wrencher.
This highly detailed and large scale art gives us these massive tapestries of Asgardian action. It even dips its toe in the abstract when Mangog destroys the Bifrost. Russell Dauterman and Matt Wilson channel Black Bolt‘s Christian Ward for a moment and shatter the visual spectrum along with that trusty rainbow bridge.
Joe Sabino also does phenomenal work with lettering and production. There are so many letter styles on display, each one with a bone-crunching or teeth-grinding effect that gives these pages an extra layer of life.
This is an emotional milestone for the title, characters, and creative team. No other “Big 2” comic book is this effective on such a grand scale.
“Survival Of The Fittest” Part Two
Can you imagine if The Office (US) was only given the first season to work itself out? Same thing with Parks and Recreation. Those shows needed to figure themselves out a bit before blossoming into crucial cornerstones of television.
If Marvel ran NBC back then, those shows would’ve been cancelled after their middling first ten episodes (I understand there are major differences between the television and comic book industries).
Generation-X is starting to blossom into a fully-formed series ready to find a larger audience. Unfortunately, it’s already been cancelled.
This is still a weird book, and probably not for everyone, but there’s an undeniable charm to this quirky team of mutant teens and their teacher.
Gen-X is very much an updated X-Men comic from the 90s, but with more heart. The fact that this wasn’t a bigger hit could be (I’m no expert) a combination of stumbling a bit out of the gate and no attempt being made to sell this to a new audience.
Marvel made an effort to include LGBTQ characters in their comics but made no effort to get the books into the hands of new people. The last couple years of comic book fandom has revealed a large portion of it to be close-minded people unwilling to accept change.
Those people don’t want Iceman to be gay or Captain America to be black, so find an audience elsewhere for new ideas. Look for hungry new readers in places outside of the comic book shop and movie theater.
This rash of Marvel Legacy cancellations is more than just poor sales numbers, it’s refusing to commit fully to the supposed mission statement. It’s giving up at the first sign of trouble. Throwing in the towel over the first obstacle. How does a company that has made comics for this long not anticipate these things? Why are these books set up for failure?
All of that aside, Christina Strain put on a real show with this issue. The Jubilee stunt was handled with precision and care. This wasn’t a simple, stupid retcon. It was well orchestrated.
Strain, Pinna, and Sobreiro have all trimmed the fat and hit their stride together. Gen-X has matured and evolved into the unique coming-of-age mutant book it was destined to be.
Doctor Strange #384
“Loki: Sorcerer Supreme” Part Four
The best thing to happen to Doctor Strange comics in a long time was when Jason Aaron introduced “the cost of magic.” The toll it takes on a person who wields the tool of sorcery. It’s added so much to Stephen Strange’s world.
Donny Cates continues to further that idea and explore the limits. Replacing the Disciples of Strange with The Sentry was a brilliant move by Cates. This is perfect utilization and repurposing of a character that draws mixed reactions from fans.
From the beginning of Aaron’s run to where Cates takes us in the future could end up being one of the strongest eras for Doctor Strange comics. Stephen has been going through real development and harsh growing pains and the reader has grown with him.
Gabriel Hernandez Walta and Jordie Bellaire paint Strange’s world with a darker thicker brush. It serves the narrative perfectly as these are some of the darkest days for Stephen since he became a sorcerer. The range of environments and emotions we effortlessly touch on give this book unlimited potential.
It’s an amazing time for Doctor Strange fandom. Donny Cates’ bag of tricks and ideas is clearly very deep. Walta and Bellaire build even more on the major artistic accomplishment that was Vision.
“No Surrender” Part Two
This reads like an event but without the weight of tie-ins and Marvel’s overhype and promise of “shaking the universe to its core.” It’s an extremely effective approach to take a story this big and let it fly relatively under the radar. Let the community build the hype because the story is worth standing by on its own.
The history lesson on Voyager’s role with the Avengers is short and sweet. Not a great deal of noise is made about her return amongst the other Avengers. In this weekly series format, we’ve got to let things play out before casting a judgement. It’s a different game.
The atmosphere of this book is big within the pages, not in the real world. It’s so much easier to dive in and enjoy this story without the pressure, for both creator and reader, that every issue is supposed to be life altering and worth $6.99.
Rogue’s hair is distracting, it’s a good look but distracting nonetheless as it seemingly has a sentient mind of its own. Pepe Larraz and David Curiel do a fantastic job inserting Voyager into historical Avengers panels.
“No Surrender” is a big deal on its own merit, not because Marvel wants you to think so. The weekly format and lack of marketing pressure makes it really easy to enjoy this massive Avengers story.
All-New Wolverine #29
“Orphans Of X” Part Five
Every location Tom Taylor and Juan Cabal take us to in this story is vastly different and serves a purpose. This time Laura utilizes a metal to combat the weapons the Orphans of X are using against them.
Throughout this arc we’ve changed location more times than a Fast & Furious movie but they’ve all played a role in the narrative. This creative team doesn’t waste anything or go anywhere without reason.
All-New Wolverine is a comic you can be super critical of, only to find more reasons to love it. It’s like a Queens Of The Stone Age song, the more you listen to it, the more you start to realize the multiple layers working together to give you this satisfying final piece. Both are endless vaults of detail and satisfaction.
That wipe across the panel to show Laura picking up a scent was absolutely brilliant. The contrast of the white snow landscape littered with bright red hand ninjas and Laura’s blue armor is a visual to behold. The framing and motion of every sequence is a work of art by Juan Cabal and Nolan Woodard.
All-New Wolverine is one of the most crucial staples in modern Marvel comics. The creative team of Taylor, Cabal, and Woodard is on another level.
“Champion For A Day” Part One
The Vision family tree keeps getting more and more complicated. Mark Waid is really having fun with the groundwork laid by Tom King, and it’s a joy to read.
Also, thank you Mr. Waid for reuniting Lunella with Devil Dinosaur. They’ve been split up recently in her other appearances.
Moon Girl, and a handful of teenaged heroes, expand the ranks of the Champions. This is a strong move, the team could be like the extended Justice League ranks. Using certain heroes for certain scenarios. It’s also great to get all the kids in one place.
As much as I hated that Spider-Man/Spider Gwen romance crossover (that seemingly lasted a lifetime), it was worth it for the “she goes to a different school” moment here.
Humberto Ramos is responsible a lot of the youthful energy this book emits. This should be the measuring stick for every Marvel artist when attempting to draw these characters as their appropriate age. Especially with teenage Cyclops, too many artists are drawing him as a grown-ass man rather than a teen.
Champions is shaping up to be one of the stronger Marvel Legacy offerings. The mixture of carefree youth and intriguing comic book drama makes this an important title. This offers plenty to the reader no matter what age.