12:12pm PT by Graeme McMillan
'Marvel Legacy': Explaining the Mythology You Might Not Be Familiar With
Spoiler alert: This post gives away information contained inside Marvel Legacy No. 1. Only keep reading if you're prepared to learn about the future of the Marvel Comic Book Universe.
Marvel Legacy No. 1 hits store shelves Wednesday, offering a new jumping-on point for those curious about the comic book version of the Marvel Universe. But alongside characters and concepts known to audiences more familiar with Marvel's movie and TV properties — Wolverine, Ghost Rider and the Infinity Stones all play important parts in the oversized issue — there are a number of things in there which might seem confusing to newcomers.
The issue — written by Jason Aaron, with art primarily by Esad Ribic and a host of other contributors — acts as the opener for a number of storylines across Marvel's superhero publishing line in upcoming months. Mixing ideas that are already part of the established Marvel Cinematic Universe with more obscure (for now) concepts, it might also give a glimpse of things to come on the big screen, eventually. Want to catch up? Here's what (and who) is necessary to know.
Two separate Starbrands appear in Marvel Legacy No. 1: a cro-magnon in the sequence taking place 1,000,000 years in the past (one of the "1,000,000 BC Avengers" teased by the publisher some time back) and a man who attacks Ghost Rider in South Africa. In current Marvel mythology, the Starbrand is, to quote 2012's Avengers No. 8, "a weapon designed to protect a people as they progress through a change period … a defense system of planetary scale" that is passed to new users seemingly chosen at random. What does it do? Like DC's Green Lantern ring, it's a weapon limited only by the user's imagination, although even that can be strengthened if the user wills it. The concept first appeared in 1986's Star Brand No. 1, part of Marvel's short-lived "New Universe" line.
The Celestials, already teased as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, are a race of godlike beings that created humanity. (Technically, they created humanity and two additional subspecies, the Eternals — humanity-but-better — and the Deviants, who represent everything bad about humanity, but moreso.) That's not all; they also promised to return and judge whether or not humanity deserves to survive, threatening the end of all life on Earth if things don't go well. (The issue's repeated mentions of "The Final Host" are related to this; that is, in theory, the ultimate judge.) The creation of Jack Kirby, the Celestials first appeared in 1976's The Eternals No. 2.
While Steve Rogers and the original Thor are both seen, out of uniform, in Marvel Legacy, it falls to their current replacements to act as Captain America and Thor when it comes to actual superhero action in the issue. The same is true of Ironheart, who — as the name suggests — is filling in for Iron Man right now. (Tony Stark's current whereabouts, as can be seen in the issue, are unknown.) Although the original versions of Marvel's most high-profit heroes are set to return in coming months, that doesn't mean that their replacements will disappear entirely; Sam Wilson is already announced for a new Falcon comic book series, and Ironheart might be set to anchor her own series at some point in the future, as well. Ironheart is actually RiRi Williams, a teenage genius who built her own armor by retro-engineering Tony Stark's technology. She's been around since 2016's Invincible Iron Man No. 7.
The New Avenger
One of the most subtle storytelling beats of the entire issue is Jarvis staring at the statue of the founding members of the Avengers and having an inexplicable feeling that something is wrong. He's right, although he doesn't know it; the statue features the comic book founders of the team — and one additional figure. Voyager's name has been revealed via a Marvel teaser image, but literally nothing else is known about her at this point — well, besides the fact that she's also showing up as part of the statue on the promotional image for next year's weekly Avengers comic book. Expect this plot to thicken for awhile.
The Intergalactic Empire of Wakanda
This is another new addition to the Marvel mythos, making its debut in Marvel Legacy No. 1. But it's certainly one that builds on existing mythology — namely that, since its first appearance in Fantastic Four No. 52 in 1966, the nation of Wakanda has been portrayed as significantly more scientifically advanced than the rest of the world. If that's the case, then it only makes sense that Wakanda's space race would be further ahead than any other country's — and in a fictional universe where space stations and intergalactic travel are possible, it's entirely reasonable to believe that Wakanda had its act together to be exploring the great beyond for long enough to build an empire.
Valeria and Franklin
So, who are the children at the end of Marvel Legacy No. 1? They're the offspring of Reed and Sue Richards, aka half of the Fantastic Four — the missing half, as alluded to early in the issue. After the events of 2015's Secret Wars comic book series, the Richards clan has existed outside reality itself while they try and repair the damage done by an omnipotent Doctor Doom. Inside the Marvel Universe, they're all presumed dead, but that might not be the case for long. Meanwhile, the remaining members, the Human Torch and the Thing, are anchoring the new Marvel Two-in-One series launching in December.
Marvel Legacy No. 1 is available in comic book stores and digitally now.