Reviewing a book like Marvel Legacy, now available in a hardcover “Deluxe” edition, can be difficult.
The kick-off special to Marvel’s Fall 2017 publishing initiative, it followed some loosely related main plot threads. After introducing a pre-historic version of the Avengers, who encounter and kill a rogue Celestial, the action shifts to the present day. There, it follows two threads: a savage battle between the latest incarnations of Ghost Rider and Starbrand and a group of heroes attempting to prevent some dark Elves (sent by Loki) from stealing a mystery artifact from a military storage depot. Interspersed between those two threads were vignettes previewing Marvel’s then-upcoming arcs in a number of titles. The Deluxe edition is padded out with 3 to 4 page recaps/origins that ran in the first “Legacy”-branded issues of books that appeared over the winter, as well as some interview material from one of Marvel’s preview magazines.
Here’s the problem: whichever way one chooses to review Marvel Legacy at this point, it comes up as mostly a failure. That’s no knock on the writers and artists involved, all of whom did their usual fine work. The book was serviceable and stirred a little attention with a couple of widely anticipated character comebacks. But as a story, there isn’t much here. The action plays out as the set-up it is, paving the way for both the “Legacy” initiative and the Summer 2018 Infinity Wars event. The story is fine, but doesn’t really go anywhere and doesn’t do enough to stoke anticipation for future developments.
The other way one could view this special was as the kickoff to Marvel’s “Legacy” era. Which might have made it more notable, had Marvel not lost interest in Legacy with a rapidity that was alarming even for the notoriously ADD publisher. Barely six months in, Marvel had already announced it was moving on to “Fresh Start” for numerous of its key books, which leaves Marvel Legacy as the equivalent to an American flag issued between states joining the union in the early 20th century: a somewhat interesting historical curio that’s almost entirely without consequence.
Skeptical fans didn’t quite buy Marvel’s insistence that Legacy was a true change in direction. Unlike DC’s similar “Rebirth” project, Legacy didn’t feel well-planned and it was never clear what Marvel wanted it to be. That it fell to the wayside so quickly bears out why taking it with a grain of salt was well-advised. Strip away that marketing aspect and readers are left with a story that’s not complete in itself. Compounding that problem is all the supplemental material Marvel pads the volume with in order to slap on a $39.99 cover price. While sometimes interesting or entertaining, none of the back matter is worth the cost. This volume becomes even more curious when one consider it’s highly likely that the main story will appear again, in an inevitable “Road to Infinity Wars” collection, making this particular edition even more of a curious beast.
So, if you’re a completist or a hopeless optimist, the “Deluxe” edition of Marvel Legacy may be of interest. Under no circumstances should anyone shell out cover price for this, it’s a cynical attempt at a cash grab for content that in no way justifies the expense. If you can pick it up at a significant discount or borrow it, check it out. Otherwise, wait for the main story to pop up elsewhere (or go pick up the actual special itself, which is likely still haunting the shelves of many comic shops).