By Jarrod Jones. It has not, by anybody’s reckoning, been a kind stretch for Marvel Comics. Sales are in a slump, the publisher is in a creative rut, and reader enthusiasm has been on the wane. Even we’ve had to stop what we’re doing just to figure out how the hell they went so wrong.

To be a lifer in this industry means you have to be willing to forgive. (Never forget, though! That’s what puts us in these pickles in the first place. Remember your history, kids.) And since Marvel Comics has shown a willingness to change, we should all be equally willing to take account of what they have in mind. (Which is to say, with a juvenile impetuousness.)

Behold Marvel Legacy, in all its reverential glory.

Marvel Legacy teaser image

Image: Marvel Comics

You demanded it, we listened!” a press release screamed on Friday afternoon, just when the entirety of the comics blogosphere was just about to clock out early. “Beginning this fall, prepare for an exciting new initiative that spans the entire Marvel Universe! Every hero! Every title! Every story! Honoring the past while proudly moving towards the future, MARVEL LEGACY will offer fans, both current and new, a renewed sense of hope, heroics, and dozens and dozens of returns of the heroes fans have been demanding!

While putting a finger on what’s been plaguing the publisher is a pretty damned easy thing to do — poor publicity, zero faith in series featuring characters (and let’s be honest, creators) of color, and a pathological urge to reset books after twelve issues — this hastily-scrawled press release would have us believe that the issues lie in a more superficial arena: the absence of Blade the Vampire Hunter, among many other characters who are not the Fantastic Four. (Though it seems Marvel’s lent the FF’s header design to The Unbelievable Gwenpool, which isn’t that nice.)

Oh, wait. It wasn’t done. “MARVEL LEGACY ushers in the next few years’ worth of stories from Marvel with everything fans could want and more. You asked for it, and now is the time to Make Mine Marvel!” That’s right — alongside “the most spectacular character returns” and “heroes fighting villains“, Marvel Legacy promises “clean jumping on points for all readers clearly displayed using dynamic new trade dress“, which looks conspicuously like hastily assembled homage covers that just can’t inspire a whole lot of confidence.

But just to show how committed they are to legacy, Marvel has decided to drag Stan Lee into this. The Man had this to say: “I love the concept of returning to the classic characters as they were originally portrayed, without losing the brilliance and excitement of Marvel’s newest generation of heroes. Excelsior!

Though somehow that was nowhere near as sad as this actual bullet point from the same press release: “Did we mention the most spectacular character returns that comic fans have demanded?”

This new initiative kicks off with Marvel Legacy #1, written by Jason Aaron and illustrated by Esad Ribic, which features an admittedly bananas premise: What if… the Avengers began all the way back in 1,000,000 BC?

Journey to the dawn of time, as Marvel introduces you to the first Avengers from 1,000,000 BC – when iconic torch-bearers such as Odin, Iron Fist, Starbrand, Ghost Rider, Phoenix, Agamotto, and Black Panther come together for the startling origin of the Marvel Universe, in MARVEL LEGACY #1 on sale this September in comic shops everywhere!

The 50-page one-shot will provide, according to Marvel EiC Axel Alonso, an “exciting and accessible entry point” that also happens to be fifty pages long. Just imagine that it’ll turn out a lot like that one time DC Comics did this exact same thing, only with 100% more frustration.

After Marvel Legacy #1, readers can expect 53 MU titles, which just so happens to be one more than that one time DC Comics did this exact same thing, which led to that other thing they did that we just alluded to, and now my mind is caught in some kinda Mobius Strip of despair.

Marvel Legacy teaser image

Image: Marvel Comics

It will also feature “the most talked about return in comics“, which if it turns out to be anyone but the Richards family, you’ll at least know exactly where you can get off this crazy train.

Expect further announcements — including maybe creative teams? just spit-balling — sometime before, during, or after SDCC. Or never! You never can tell with Marvel, the company that always leaves us guessing!