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MARVEL’S ‘ORIGINAL SIN’ – A GREAT START TO A SUPERHERO WHODUNIT

May 8, 2014

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I tend to go back and forth on my opinion of the current mainstream comic book trend of major crossover event after major crossover event.  Admittedly, it tends to lean a little closer to the “not-a-fan” side.  I just get burned out.  There tends to be little resolution involved in the storyline, and each of these crossovers concludes with the set-up for the next giant event that will begin in a couple months.  The issue I have with crossovers is that  they are all promoted to be the catalyst for major changes that will rock their respective universes to their core, but seldom seem to pay off in the long run.

Recently it was Jonathan Hickman’s Infinity that reminded me how fun these crossovers can be.  Infinity was epic in scope and cosmic in setting.  It gave the Marvel heroes a foe that seemed impenetrable.  Though knowing that the good guys would ultimately win, it forced you to get lost in the story and actually fear for the superheroes involved.  The event seemed like it mattered.

It is with all of this aforementioned personal baggage that I read Marvel’s newest event book Original Sin, and though this is just the first issue, I think we may be in for an interesting ride.

Some spoilers to follow.

As the title of this review implies, Original Sin is a whodunit.  Specifically the series asks, “Who killed The Watcher?”  For those of you who don’t know, The Watcher, also known as Uatu, is a big baby headed dude who watches over the Marvel Universe’s Earth.  He’s a member of an ancient race of aliens who stationed themselves at various points in the universe… to watch stuff.  Uatu resides on Earth’s moon and is tasked with observing Earth and its solar system.  Due to some pretty terrible past experiences with another planet, The Watchers vowed never to interfere with other civilizations, and simply record what they see.  Uatu, being the solid dude that he is, has broken that vow multiple times to help Earth.

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As The Watcher, Uatu has amassed all of the Marvel Universe’s deepest darkest secrets, and it’s in this fact that we find our killer’s motive.  Missing from The Watcher’s body are his eyes.  This creates a great deal of potential for some universe altering retconning to take place.  We’ve already seen some of that with the announcement of the character Silk who was secretly bitten and mutated by the same radioactive spider that young Peter Parker came into contact with, and news that Angela, newly introduced to the Marvel U, is Thor and Loki’s sister.  It also can lead to some serious tension among the superhero community.  There could be a lot of things from their pasts that they’d rather not share.  This killer, or at least whoever comes into possession of the eyes, seems to be slated to become Marvel’s own combination of Wikileaks and Edward Snowden.

The issue itself sets the stage.  We begin in a diner where Captain America, Wolverine, Black Widow, and the original Nick Fury are hanging out and grabbing a bite to eat.  Cap receives a call from Thor and off to the moon they go.  From here Fury takes point investigating the murder.  We soon learn however that another unknown individual is assembling his own crew to get to the bottom of the mystery, namely Black Panther, Ant-Man, Emma Frost, Moon Knight, Winter Soldier, Gamora, Doctor Strange, and The Punisher.  With regard to Punisher and Strange, all signs point to the weirdest buddy cop type scenario imaginable and I kind of love it.

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We eventually jump to a fight in the middle of New York where The Thing and Spider-Man are taking on a Mindless One.  The Mindless One is telepathically screaming about how he’s in agony over what he witnessed, as Spidey notes that the Mindless Ones are not supposed to be telepathic.  Ultimately the struggle ends with the Mindless One pulling out the Ultimate Nullifier and killing himself.  They are then joined by Fury and his crew as he takes control over what has just become a crime scene relative to his investigation.

The main criticism I have concerning the story is how fast it jumps around to set up all the players.  Not that it was done in an unskilled manner, but it seems that being able to really take the story in was obstructed by how much we were traveling between different narratives.  With that being said, this in no way hindered my overall enjoyment of the comic.  I think that this was a necessary aspect to include so we understand that there are different groups conducting different investigations in order to unravel the mystery for the readers.  Jason Aaron continues to prove that he truly has a firm grasp on the personalities of these characters, and knows when to have them chime in or remain silent in a way that optimizes each character’s involvement among a large cast.

Mike Deodato’s art was also quite enjoyable.  I especially enjoyed his wide shots.  A comic book event miniseries is supposed to be epic and the way that Deodato chose many of his placements of objects or individuals mixed with vivid widescreen backgrounds captured that summer blockbuster tone perfectly.  If there was anything I was distracted by in a not so great way it would be some of the panel placements.  There were a few times that I had to take a second to figure out which panel was to follow the one I just read, and that can slow the consumption of an otherwise interesting story.  Admittedly, I read this issue digitally on my laptop, so this problem could have been a format issue that wasn’t the artist’s fault.

This was absolutely a great first issue to a story that has a lot of potential to entertain.  So often in these event books we know who the good guys are and who they’re fighting.  In Original Sin, we haven’t the slightest clue who the mastermind behind the murder is and what they have planned.  I find that intriguing.  Aaron and Deodato are taking a fresh approach to the mainstream superhero crossover that seems oddly intimate in nature while involving the entirety of this fictional universe.  They’ve definitely got my attention I just hope the story gives us what it appears to be promising.

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