So. I just peeped over to see the new page and—wow. It’s kind of mind-blowing to think that this has all been going on for over two years. I admit, a lot of that two years I kind of dropped the ball on stuff, but like I already said: we’re doing away with that! There’s been something I’ve been chewing on lately, so here I am writing about it (warning, I have been listening to the Hamilton soundtrack prettttttttttty much on and off non-stop for over six months now, so I’m probably going to be mixing in a lot of elements from that—I make zero apologies):
Marvel’s new Legacy storyline(s).
When All-New All-Different began to be teased around the time that Secret Wars was supposed to be ending (Spoiler Alert: The last issue of the main Secret Wars title came out at least a month after All-New All-Different had kicked off – ggwp, Marvel.), there were a lot of changes coming down the comic pike that I was excited for. Before Secret Wars, one of my favorite characters co-starred in Brian Michael Bendis’ All-New X-Men: Jean Grey. Young Jean Grey got me to fall back in love with the X-Men, and with comics, to a larger extent—although I dipped my toes back in during the phase when Secret Wars had already started, so there were titles going where I had no idea what they were about. My first month of pulls for Marvel’s Secret Wars was a large stack that got me sorted out pretty quick. I definitely want to go back, at some point, and talk about some of my favorite parts of Secret Wars—I’m lookin’ at you, Marvel 1602: Angela, Witch Hunter. Anyways, my return to comics, outside of a couple Secret Wars titles, was mainly a DC thing and, furthermore, mainly was a Starfire thing.
So, I have All-New X-Men and Starfire to really thank for getting me back into this. Please bring back Starfire, DC! And not in an ensemble title! And please don’t make her that awful mess she was in the early New 52! I want Amanda Connor’s Starfire! Really, just get Amanda Connor to go back to writing Starfire. Please? Please.
BACK ON TOPIC!
Out of Secret Wars came Jane Foster taking up Thor mantle and Sam Wilson stepping into the role of Captain America. As some of you might know, I’ve written a few things on Sam’s presence as Captain America. It was something that I fell deeply in love with: it as bold, it was what we needed, it was so perfect, and Marvel stood by its decision even when the fanboys were raging and throwing expletives that have since become startlingly commonplace in some people’s day-to-day vocabulary. There were a lot of people out there who gave a better voice, maybe better insight as to what it meant to have Sam as Captain America and to have Jane as Thor. (I’m planning to read Thor, at some point, so I can have a voice about it, too, but let’s stay on Sam.)
One of the pieces that I read very early was a piece at blacknerdproblems and it addressed the majesty of the All-New All-Different Avengers #4 standard cover art: Thor and Captain America kissing above the New York skyline. It deserved the rap that the Editor-In-Chief wrote for it, it deserved a lot more than that—and I think, in the end, Marvel gave it what it needed most: staying power. Even with fans doing some pretty atrocious stuff (like harassing the writer of Mockingbird, Chelsea Cain, off of Twitter), Marvel has not returned the mantles of these heroes to where very loud and very obnoxious (anecdotally, but I still haven’t talked to anyone who has thought Steve should be back to Cap and Odinson needs to be back to Thor who isn’t loud and obnoxious – I’M JUST SAYIN’) fans think they should be. That is going to be changing, obviously, with Legacy, but these two white, blonde, cismale characters have been through hell to get back “their titles.” I mean, Steve Rogers came out as Captain Hydra (I wrote some stuff about that, too!) – have we already moved on from Secret Empire? Gosh, I hope not, because we have three more years of a Trump presidency that story line seriously just ended and Nick Spencer did a fantastic job with it—I enjoyed it, at least. What about Odinson? His short run of comics under Unworthy were good, too! I feel like all of the angry fandom got channeled into the All-Father and every time I see him seethe about Jane’s possession of the hammer, a little twinkle springs into my eye.
While all of this has been going on, that blacknerdproblems article has been forever in the back of my mind—I think it came out two years ago? It has been something I have gone back to again and again because it provides a focal point for all of my happy thoughts when I see people who are excited that Steve and Thor are coming back. I’m not not-happy that they’re coming back—they’re iconic characters, without a doubt—but their return signals something that does make me sad: Marvel is giving way to some of the most racist, sexist, fear-driven crap I have ever read. Are you uncomfortable that Jane Foster is Thor? That Sam Wilson is Captain America? AND THEY HAVE THE HOTS FOR EACH OTHER?
Die mad about it.
In Legacy #1 we, the readers, get a glance into Jane Foster’s mind, a mind that has been battling as Thor when the helmet is on and a woman facing her final days because of a cancer diagnosis as Jane Foster. She makes glorious plans to make-out with Captain America later, and she follows through, because she’s a Goddess and that’s what she’s about. She also shares a moment with Captain America and Riri Williams’ Ironheart about this maybe being some of the final moments a cast that resemble Avengers might be smashing some Johtunheimers who have become wrapped up in a Loki scheme. Marvel’s self-reflective narrative that has been present throughout all of the characters that fans have complained about is something that I’m going to miss. I have to remind myself that while Marvel felt, to me, like they were finally pioneering some space that mainstream comics have been afraid to go into, they also had to, eventually, face the truth that they are what they are: they are a mainstream comic company.
There isn’t really room for blazing pioneer antics of any kind – ask DC’s Rebirth. Although I would argue until I run out of breath that 99.9999999999999999999% of the trailblazing that happened in The New 52 didn’t need to happen, Marvel’s steps were different and they were loud and we saw them, the people who believe that all peoples deserve a spot at the comic table saw them, and, for a moment, they were included. Now, Marvel must turn its attention back to the people who allowed it to become the kind of giant that gives life to mantle changes like Captain and Thor, that gives life to Riri Williams, Miles Morales, Amadeus Cho, and any other character change that pulled in new people, new readers, new lovers of the words and pictures on their pages.
I’m reminded of the beginning of Hamilton’s babblings in the last song that he sings—really, it’s Burr’s song, but Hamilton gets a shot in it, so he’s there, too:
“Legacy. What is a legacy?
It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see.”
I like to hope that Marvel knew what it was doing, when it upset its status quo and brought new blood into the fold. I like to hope that its shift back now to its bread and butter, the familiar faces that built it up to be what it is, will not be for naught. I hope that they’ll take this time, build things back up, and then come through with the follow-up punch and we’ll see these characters, these colorful and brilliant strokes of change come back onto our comic racks.
In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy the final times of Thor and Captain America.
Because I ship the ever-living existence out of that. | Catherine Bathe