THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO MARVEL LEGACY: THE NEW 53

In the end, Marvel’s “Legacy” realignment (don’t call it a reboot) will probably not do a whole lot to improve the rapidly declining quality of most of its monthly books.  But as with all linewide events, there are some things about it that look promising.  Others that look like business as usual.  And still more that just look bad.  Here’s what to expect in September….

First, big, linewide changes: beginning in Marvel Legacy #1 by Jason Aaron and Esad Ribić, which will (probably):

*        Introduce the 1 million BC Avengers (definitely)
*        Establish that there is a new timeline (definitely)
*        Return Tony Stark, Bruce Banner, Thor and Steve Rogers to their classic roles (possibly)

Second, the return of Marvel Value Stamps and the FOOM (Friends Of Old Marvel) fanzine

Also, three page primer pages in most titles that establish the background of the character(s) in the issue.  (Three pages?  Seems like a lot, when you’re asking us to spend $4 per comic.)

And last but not least, a roster of 53 not-Star Wars comics…Click next for the complete list, along with which ones I think you should be putting on your pull list.  Green means get them!  Yellow means I can’t wholeheartedly recommend, but it may be worth reading.  Red means don’t bother.

THE NEW 53

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #789.  It kills me that I can’t recommend this book.  Amazing Spidey is my favorite comic of all time, and I really, really liked Dan Slott’s work with the character for many years.  But ever since the last “reboot” to #1, where Peter became a nicer version of Tony Stark, Spider-Man has lost his everyman/underdog style, which was a defining character trait, and generally has become less interesting.  If a gadget can solve everything, why do you need powers in the first place?

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: RENEW YOUR VOWS #13.  Why is this still a thing?

AMERICA #8.  A lot of people like this solo book by Gabby Rivera and Joe Quinones.  If you’re one of them, you’ll probably still like it.  The first Legacy arc introduces a villain named “Exterminatrix,” which sounds awfully stupid-especially for a female-led comic-but like I said, lots of folks dig this book.

THE AVENGERS #672/CHAMPIONS #13.  Mark Waid will continue to write both these titles after the Legacy (not) reboot of Marvel’s publishing line, and the two books will cross over as they team-up to fight High Evolutionary.  Also Jesus Saiz and Humberto Ramos will continue on the art chores for each book.  So a renumbering for one, but they’re the same books-and they’re both very strong titles right now.  After the teams meet and fight, Waid promises to bring back old favorite Avengers foes and do some lineup shifts-essentially making Avengers like the old books used to be: Marvel’s All-Star team.  Note: The Legacy renumbering doesn’t make sense to me.  I guess they are not counting New Avengers in the old Avengers numbering, or the 4-7 Avengers titles that were simultaneously on sale for the past decade.  Seems like the A-team should be close to #1000.  And Champions clearly isn’t counting the original Champions team-but that one I guess makes sense, because it was not just a totally different lineup, it was a team with a totally different mission as well.

BEN REILLY, SCARLET SPIDER #10.  It would have been nice if Marvel had used this event as an excuse to purge poor performing comics that nobody talks about.  They didn’t.

BLACK BOLT #8.  Nothing new here, but man is this a good comic.  I’m glad that the legacy (not) reboot isn’t making Marvel forced to feel like fixing what’s not broken.  A long-form super-prison story, in which Black Bolt has already spoken what I think are his first, non-destructive words in Marvel history, and which features The Absorbing Man in a major role-one of my favorite villains.  Seriously, if you’re not reading this, you’re missing out.

BLACK PANTHER #166.  It gets legacy renumbering, but its creative team and long-form story arcs will not be disturbed.  I stopped reading it after the first arc, but it’s a good book.  I just don’t have time to read everything anymore.

CABLE #150.  X-book relaunches are always risky.  Sometimes, they pay off with books ranging from good to great (Old Man Logan, All-New Wolverine), other times not so much.  Hard to say what’s going to happen here.

CAPTAIN MARVEL #125.  New numbering, same team.  If you like it now, you’ll still like it in September, as she will continue her “cosmic” space adventures.

DAREDEVIL #595.  No big changes planned, but Charles Soule and Ron Garney have been doing a very good job on the DD book. Looking forward to it continuing.

DESPICABLE DEADPOOL #287.  I don’t know why the Legacy numbering is at #287, considering that Deadpool has already celebrated issues like #700, but the important thing here is that there’s no change.  Other than the fact that he’s supposedly a “villain” again.  Gerry Dugan is still writing it, so there’s no reason to come by.  Even if Cable will be in the first story arc and the art is by a pretty good artist, Scott Koblish.

DEFENDERS #6.  Why do some books get united with old numbering and others do not?  No idea.  But Brian Michael Bendis and David Marquez have said the first official Legacy arc will involve Deadpool and a new Kingpin of crime.  Again, if you like what they’re doing now, you’ll probably like this.  I’m sad to report that I haven’t liked it so far, and I’ve given up on it.  I really wanted to like it.  Maybe I’ll start again with the legacy story arc.

DOCTOR STRANGE #381.  I haven’t personally enjoyed the latest Strange solo book, and I don’t expect to enjoy it after September, either, even with the renumbering.  But lots of folks do like it.  I’ve never been a big Strange fan, so maybe I have a little bit of a bias here.

FALCON #1.  Sam Wilson will finally stop being Blacktain America and go back to the identity we all know and love so much.  His solo book will be written by the writer of Boondocks and Everybody Hates Chris.  Good pedigree-we’ll see if he can write comic books as well as he writes strips and sitcoms.  The only downside: He’s paired up with a “millennial” character called Patriot.  Hopefully this won’t just be pandering-it will be good storytelling.  Oh, and also, the villain is Mephisto’s son, Blackheart.  I’d so much rather see Falcon taking on a street-level mission-the kind his character was designed around.  So I’m not super excited, but I’ll definitely read #1 and give it a try.

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #146.  This one’s a headscratcher for me.  There’ve been 143 other GotG comics?  Anyway, this is another one that’s generally an okay comic and won’t be changed for Legacy.

HAWKEYE #13.  And here’s one that really could have been renumbered but wasn’t.  I wonder what the criteria were?  Anyway, doesn’t look like there will be major changes here, and this book, which is now about Kate Bishop, has generally been pretty good.

THE INCREDIBLE HULK #709.  Grek Pak returns!  Pak is one of the only writers who ever did an awesome Hulk run.  You can probably count the number of truly magnificent Hulk stories on one hand (maybe two) despite the fact that he’s had a book on the stands almost continuously since 1963.  Remember his stories?  World War Hulk?  Planet Hulk?  Incredible Hercules?  And he’s returning to Amadeus Cho as well, a character he created and who is now the green gamma monster since Bruce Banner was murdered by Hawkeye.  The first storyline?  Planet Hulk 2!  With Greg Land on the art chores, I’m hopeful about this one!

ICEMAN #6.  I really wanted to like Marvel’s first story about an openly gay character finding his identity, but I haven’t so far.  Maybe I will, though, when he reassembles the original Champions team in this Legacy story. Iceman, Hercules, Ghost Rider, Black Widow, Darkstar, and Angel will come together again.

INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #593.  Same creative team, but the question is whether the two ongoing Iron Man books will merge.  Right now, Riri Williams is wearing the armor in this book, and Doctor Doom has it in Infamous Iron Man, while Tony Stark has become the Sorceror Supreme.  There’s been no solicits for Infamous, so I’m assuming that’s ending, and Invincible artist Stefano Caselli is continuing on post-legacy-so I’m guessing this will continue to be a Riri book, and something with Tony Stark will emerge soon after (we’ve been promised he will return to the Iron Man role), in this same title.  I’ve enjoyed Infamous Iron Man about as much as any other Marvel book this year: It’s written well, beautifully illustrated, and lots of fun.  I’ll give this one a green, but with caution: The Riri Iron Man storyline hasn’t captured my attention at all.  But I’m thinking this book will be reintroducing Tony Stark and there’s a lot of potential here, especially with Bendis still writing it.  Okay.  Now call me a racist for not liking Riri.

IRON FIST #73.  Danny Rand gets the legacy numbering.  The current series, by Ed Brisson and Mike Perkins, has been okay, but not great.  It looks like it could have been (could be in the future?) great, but something’s missing here and I’m not sure what it is.  In #73, Sabertooth arrives to cause problems.  Which should be cool, because not many people remember that the villain’s second appearance was against Iron Fist in Power Man and Iron Fist #66.  Way back when.  I can’t give this a full throated “green” recommendation, but I’m still hanging in on the hope that Brisson will hit his stride.

JEAN GREY #8.  Dennis Hopeless and Victor Ibanez continue their run on this title, which features time-displaced young Jean, and begin the “Psych War” story line which will involve Phoenix.  Like so many of the legacy titles, it doesn’t look like there’s much change being offered here, so if you’re reading it now, keep going.  If you’re not, no reason to start now.

JESSICA JONES #13.  I love this book.  Best Brian Michael Bendis work in many, many years.  Glad to see it’s not cancelled and, apparently, won’t be disrupted by the Legacy event.

LUKE CAGE #166.  I really like David Walker as a writer, and loved his recent Power Man and Iron Fist run.  Not as big a fan of artist Nelson Blake, whose cartoony style doesn’t work for me on Cage.  Anyway, they’re renumbering and bringing Cage back to his roots: A cage.  Luke’s in jail again!  I’m going to give this one another try on the strength of Walker’s writing, and recommend this as a book to watch in the Legacy world.

MARVEL TWO IN ONE #1.  Thing and Human Torch together again.  Can the full FF be far behind?  Sadly, this may be written by Chip Zdarsky, who so far hasn’t impressed me.  But I’m super hopeful.

MONSTERS UNLEASHED #7.  Run.  Seriously.  I can’t understand why this book hasn’t been cancelled yet, but it’s one of the worst things Marvel has published in years.

MOON GIRL AND DEVIL DINOSAUR #25.  If you already like it, you’ll still like it.  It’s a bit too tame for me, so I’ll pass.

MOON KNIGHT #188.  One of my favorite Marvel characters-and marvel hasn’t put out a bad MK book in a very long time.  Which is fantastic, because up to the mid-2000s, they hadn’t put out a good one in a very long time!

MS. MARVEL #25.  Why no legacy numbering here?  Not sure.  Also not sure this will stay green.  The adventures of Kamala Kahn started out as one of the most innovative and downright fun books in Marvel’s catalog-and it was the best comic of the year when it first came out-but lately it’s feeling a little stale.  I’m still checking it out, but I’m getting ready to move on.  All good things must end.

OLD MAN LOGAN #31.  The creative team recently changed on this book, and I’m not sure I like where it’s headed.  It’s become pretty gruesome, written in Ed Brisson’s over-the-top-tough style, but I’m hanging in on the strength of the issues that came before it.  Also, I don’t hate it-it’s just not about time-displaced Logan trying to find his place anymore-it’s about killing the things that make him sad.  We’ll see if that’s a sustainable premise.

PETER PARKER THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #297.  Oh how I wanted to like this book when it relaunched a month ago.  But I didn’t.  The Spider-Man line is desperate need of an enema.

ROYALS #9.  Al Ewing and Javier Rodriguez continue their stories about The Inhumans.  I can’t advise you here, but they promise a big death in this story.  The legacy storyline is also being promoted as “the secret origin” of the Kree.  But I’m not sure anyone is really waiting for that.

PUNISHER #218.  Remember what I said about Marvel not publishing a bad Moon Knight comic since the 1990s?  Well that was true of Punisher until the most recent creative changeover.  I haven’t seen advance solicits, so it’s possible the creatives will change again.  So proceed, but proceed cautiously.

SECRET WARRIORS #8.  Another book I really wanted to like, but I didn’t.  Can’t recommend it.

SHE HULK #159.  See, She-Hulk was one of those characters who never should have worked, but since John Byrne reimagined her as a member of the Fantastic Four and then provided a truly groundbreaking solo series back in the 1980s, her eponymous comics have always been great.  Not just good, great.  But this most recent run (which is actually titled, “Hulk,” but is getting the “She-” predicate as part of the Legacy reboot) has left me cold.  Let’s hope it gets revived.

SPIDER-GWEN #25.  Jason Latour and Robbi Rodriguez continue their fan-favorite run and kick off a symbiote story titled “Gwenom.”  I don’t read this book, but it’s so highly rated by everyone who reads it that I’m giving it a green recommendation.

SPIDER-MAN #234.  This is Ultimate Spider-Man by Brian Michael Bendis.  It’s a book that has pretty much maintained its quality ever since it was used as the platform to launch the Ultimate universe and Bendis’ Marvel career.  It’s stayed green all the way.  Quite a feat.

SPIDER-MAN/DEADPOOL #23.  Shameless pandering.  Don’t succumb.

SPIRITS OF VENGEANCE #1.  You can’t fool me, this is just another in a long line of Ghost Rider comics that will almost definitely suck.  The ratio of good vs. bad Ghost Rider books is about six to one.  And adding Damion “Son of Satan” Hellstrom and blade to the mix won’t help-their solo books almost always suck, too.  Written by Victor Gischler and drawn by David Baldeon.

UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL #27.  I don’t get it, but all the critics seem to.  So if you tend to think like a comic book columnist and blogger (present company excluded), this should satisfy you.

THANOS #13.  I’m very sad to report that the current Thanos comic has not been good.  It’s not been bad, either.  It’s just been…Dull.  And it looks like it’s not changing for Legacy.

THE MIGHTY THOR #700.  Seems like a wasted opportunity to renumber and start at a septennial-you could have waited a few months and made it oversized.  But Thor’s been good for quite a while now, and we have a movie coming, so maybe it doesn’t need the extra goose for the sales.  Anyway, it should be interesting watching Odinson and Jane Thor reconcile their roles.

UNBELIEVABLE GWENPOOL #21.  Because we need two Gwen-hero books.  Ugh.

THE U.S. AVENGERS #11.  Not my cup of tea, but I can say it’s not a terrible book-and it looks like it’s not being changed or updated as part of the legacy.

ALL-NEW WOLVERINE #25.  Still by Tom Taylor.  Same old numbering.  So retaining the “all-new” seems odd.  Anyway, this book started strong but lost me around issue #15.  It might be good again.  If you like it now, it’s not changing much (and frankly, it already was a legacy-type book, given that X23 has taken over the Wolverine name).

ASTONISHING X-MEN #7, GENERATION X #85, WEAPON X #12, UNCANNY AVENGERS #28, X-MEN BLUE #13, X-MEN GOLD #13.  Honestly, after a brief flirtation with them again under Brian Michael Bendis, I’m back to not caring about any of the X-books.  They’ve returned to form as confusing, overstuffed, continuity-laden books that don’t spend enough time on any one character to make anything feel personal or intimate.  Mojo will be in the X-Blue story though, which means we might get a return of Longshot.  See if that interests you.

VENOM #155.  Here’s a guy who can sell books.  Even crappy ones.  I’m going to be bold and say this: There has never been a consistently good Venom solo comic.  The closest we got was Rick Remender’s take on Flash Thompson’s Venom soldier, but even that one got old after less than a year.

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