In order to read Marvel's new "Marvel Legacy" comics, do I have to read older comics first to understand the characters and their backstories?
That's certainly the ambition, at least according to the launch press-release. The goal is for the Marvel Legacy line is to have Legacy #1 to act as a single entry-point for all of the new storylines and then to have a separate entry-point for each of the separate lines.
A new era of Marvel Comics kicks off in the fall with MARVEL LEGACY #1.
“This one-shot honors Marvel Comics’ past and it’s a good window into the present day Marvel Universe and then also sets the stage for where we’re gonna go in the future,” comments Aaron. “The main goal was just to be able to give this to someone who’s got no idea what’s going on in the Marvel right now and have that be a good entry point for them and I think it does that.”
Beginning this fall, long-running Marvel Universe titles will revert to their classic legacy numbering, honoring and restoring their long history, as new and epic storylines launch under the Marvel Legacy banner. Featuring clean entry points for every series, titles resuming their original numbering will be clearly marked with special trade dress and cover treatments. And that’s just the beginning!
"Whether you’re a fan of the core characters or all of the amazing faces we’ve introduced over the past couple of years, whether you’ve been there every Wednesday or you drifted away from Marvel at some point in the past, Marvel Legacy is your easy-access gateway to the future, a shot glass of the Power Cosmic!”
A goal of Legacy is that it will be accessible and exciting to new readers
Marvel's Editor-in-Chief, Axel Alonso, said this in an interview (emphasis mine):
Easter eggs -- hidden nods to longtime fans -- are at the core of what "Legacy" is attempting to do, Alonso said. The content will be exciting for new fans, but will also pay off in a different way for hardcore fans of the Marvel Universe.
"With 'Legacy,' we want to tell stories that are accessible to all, but remind readers of Marvel’s rich history,” he said. “To drive that point home, a number of our titles will return to their original series numbering, and our stories will invoke that history, reminding readers of connections between characters they may have forgotten about, and ushering in the return of some big characters who’ve been missed. Above all else, we want to inject our comics with a massive dose of fun."
Although Alonso does make it clear that old readers will get a lot out of Legacy, he said that it will be accessible and exciting to new readers. Thus you should not have to read older comics.