Marvel Voices: Legacy celebrates Black History Month with an exhibition of diverse talent tackling characters and concepts from across the Marvel Universe and beyond.
Representation matters. This phrase has always been true, but the last year has put it firmly into a new light to be truer than ever. It’s no secret that despite having a great number of characters that represent various marginalized groups, comic books have long been a very white cis-heterosexual male-focused medium both in creators and in the characters/topics chosen to get the most sustained focus.
Marvel Comics has been putting out one-shots under the Marvel’s Voices banner for about the last year that have focused on some of those aforementioned marginalized groups by featuring characters and creators from them. This month is Black History Month which led to Marvel’s Voices: Legacy #1.
A one-two punch kicks off the issue with a profound and relatable introduction by New York Times bestselling author Nic Stone which is followed by the moving story “Words Do Matter” from John Ridley, Olivier Coipel, and Laura Martin. Much of this piece lies in the artistic talents of Coipel and Martin as they mix superhero action with Miles Morales (and later others) with real-life reflecting moments that will be all too real to many that belong to so-called “minority” populations.
These images are bolstered by words, going back to the title, that can be harmful or separating but actually crossing out those words to make them more affirming. With just a handful of words, Ridley speaks to the idea that we have more power than those that hold us back want us to know. It’s a simple story in the execution but as words do, it speaks volumes.
Hitting on similar notes was the story “Good Luck Girl” from Tochi Onyebuchi, Ken Lashley, and Juan Fernandez which focuses on Domino and her luck and how lucky for her isn’t always the same for others. Much like the Miles story, this one uses its page count very well and makes it feel like an even bigger story than it is. Lashley and Fernandez bring the right atmosphere to this story, keeping it grounded and darker when needed.
“Panic At the Supermarket” from writer Stephanie Phillips & artists Natacha Bustos & Rachelle Rosenberg is just a delightfully fun little tale featuring Monica Rambeau, her mother, She-Hulk, and Thor. While many comic books are more serious because a giant chunk of the audience are adults who have been reading forever, these more fun style stories are beyond welcome because they remind us that comics are pretty darn fun as a medium. Superheroes trying to do the stuff normal folks do is always a great time. Bustos’ art is always so fun and so vibrant with Rosenberg’s colors, they should be doing some sort of book with these fun stories all the time.
While these others made the heroes a big focus, “Nighttime Bodega Run” from Danny Lore, Valentine De Landro, and Dan Brown uses Blade more as a tool in the story than as a character. That’s not a bad thing, as Blade certainly is larger than life and the focus on kids that are drawn into the world of vampires is a good hook. De Landro has a style that might be described as minimalist but it’s solid and fitting for this type of story and Brown seamlessly blends the use of darker/muted colors and brighter/popping colors.
Not all the stories benefited from the smaller page count though.
“Decompression” stars Ironheart, Shuri and Ms. Marvel getting a night off to bond and it’s a very solid story from Mohale Mashigo, Chris Allen, and Rosenberg. They tell a complete story here, it’s just one that totally should be a full-on issue itself because there is so much more that would have been cool to see with this bonding. Everything from the activities they are doing down to the fight between Ironheart and the rollerblading villains Fast Five is really great, especially some of the quips. Allen has a really fun art style that pairs really well with Rosenberg’s colors. The fight scene with the Fast Five is really fluid and fun, especially the ghosting effect of the members.
Nnedi Okorafor, Chriscross, and Rosenberg’s entry titled “A Luta Continua” is intriguing on so many levels, calling back to an interesting character introduced during the Venomverse event years ago, but needed more pages. A topic like SARS needs way more space to really do justice to the subject and what is happening in Nigeria. It’s solidly written and the art is amazing, but it’s hard to really connect with the characters and what is happening in this confined space even as the creative team is clearly trying to make it work because of how important the topic is.
Travis Lanham does the tremendous heavy lifting in this issue applying various styles and types of lettering across every single story, all of them befitting of the type of story being told. Letterers work hard often applying different styles on different books they are working on depending on the book, and Lanham did that superbly here in an issue that is like five books in one.
Marvel’s tagline has always been some permeation of “the world outside your window,” and issues like this bring that notion just a bit closer to reality. These types of stories should not just be held for a one-shot. This one-shot should set the standard of not only Marvel Comics or all comics, but what all of storytelling should be. A place where representation actually truly fully matters all the time.
Marvel’s Voices: Legacy #1 is now on sale from Marvel Comics at your local comic book shop or digitally through ComiXology.