When Marvel’s Legacy event kicks off later this year, it won’t just be a way for the publisher to bring beloved, long-dead characters back from the grave, it’ll also be one of the first times we get a look at the Avengers’ truest, deepest origins that go back a million years.
In the very first issue of The Avengers, originally published in 1963, Marvel’s founding team of Avengers is put together by teenager Rick Jones to assist the Hulk and Thor in a battle against Loki. The Avengers have grown significantly over the decades that they’ve spent protecting the Earth from all manner of foes, but we’ve been led to believe that their existence is purely the direct result of Jones’ initial gathering.
In Legacy #1, though, that’s about to change, with an all-new story from writer Jason Aaron and artist Esad Ribic about the very first team of Avengers, who were apparently active back in 1,000,000 BC. Though different, this team of ancient Avengers features a lineup of characters that we’re pretty accustomed to seeing, albeit in slightly different forms. There are versions of the Phoenix, Black Panther, Iron Fist, Agamotto, Starbrand, Odin, and the still currently unrevealed Ghost Rider. Each of the characters looks rather similar to their more modern counterparts (the Phoenix Force really has a thing for redheads), and the implication here is that the Avengers were always predestined to come together as a team.
In a public statement, Marvel executive editor Tom Brevoort said that the story about this truly original team of Avengers would reveal secrets that will “reverberate across the Marvel universe,” and it’s easy to guess at what some of those secrets might be. Aside from Odin, each of the characters announced is a superhero in their own right who inherit their abilities and superhero identities from long lineages.
Odin, likely the Thor of his own team, goes on to father the Thor Odinson later in his life. Agamotto passes down his famed eye to Stephen Strange, a later Sorcerer Supreme. The Phoenix and power of the Iron Fist have moved from host to host over the millennia—you get the idea. It’s unclear how this Starbrand, who looks a lot more like Bruce Banner’s Hulk, will relate to his more modern counterpart, but you imagine that the character’s bulking frame was chosen because it’d be difficult to explain prehistoric gamma radiation.
What remains to be seen is just what actually gets these Ancient Avengers to team up, considering that we don’t often think of the Early Pleistocene era as a time in need of the Earth’s mightiest heroes.