Graphic Novel Review: Marvel Generations

Marvel Generations

Marvel Generations - Credit: Archant

The present meets the past as contemporary heroes come face to face with their inspirations...

(Panini Books)

In the wake of the devastating events of Secret Empire, Marvel’s second generation characters are sent on journeys through time to meet the heroes who originally inspired them at key moments in their careers.

So we see meetings between different versions of the Hulk, Thor, Spider-Man, Iron Man, Phoenix, Captain America, Wolverine, Captain Marvel, Ms Marvel and Hawkeye, with the purpose of reigniting the flames of passion and dedication which have been smothered in recent years.

Weirdly, given the Marvel Universe’s sliding timeline, which always sets the origin of the Fantastic Four about 10 years in the past, some of these issues are set around the time the original comics were published, so Peter Parker seems to be attending college at some point during the 1960s and Carol Danvers is working on Woman Magazine at the height of the feminism movement.

The Phoenix issue is even more confused, suggesting Jean Grey was actually host to the cosmic entity, something deliberately retconned in the early days of the original X-Factor series, which revealed how the real Jean had been kept in suspended animation while the Phoenix assumed her form.

The original Jean didn’t accept these powers until Grant Morrison’s New X-Men run, whereas this story is set during the original Phoenix Saga, which is something of an oversight by the creative team, and certainly doesn’t reward long-term readers.

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With ten different stories by a variety of creators, the quality of this collection fluctuates throughout, with some instalments notably more successful than others. The standout stories are unquestionably those featuring different incarnations of Captain America and Thor, which go beyond the simple precept of a meeting across the ages to explore the importance of each hero and their key roles within the Marvel U.

An interesting experiment which serves to re-establish the importance of the first generation heroes in time for the Marvel Legacy initiative, where many of those characters will be restored to prominence after several years on the sidelines.