Original Sin #0 by Mark Waid and Jim Cheung. Published by Marvel on 16th April.
Original Sin #1 by Jason Aaron and Mike Deodato. Published by Marvel on 7th May.
This is Marvel’s Great Bright Hope for the Summer. A murder mystery, that begins with the death of a Marvel mainstay, the Watcher, and suspects all around.
And yes, this is incredibly similar to the set up of Identity Crisis, keep up. Though it is unlikely that the Watcher was raped, instead his eyes are ripped from his body before being given away as promotional items by comic book retailers, and his home is ransacked.
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) April 6, 2014
Because, yes, if Wikileaks agrees that Captain America The Winter Soldier has links to the Wikileaks/Bradley Manning/NSA/Edward Snowden axis, then they are going to cream themselves over Original Sin.
Issue 0 is the preamble, written as a reaction to the series, to lay some groundwork for what is coming. And since Nova has been palling around with Watcher of late, that relationship is our way in to who the Watcher is and what the Watchers are. Retelling his origin story from Tales Of Suspense, Mark Waid makes one important change.
Originally we were told that the first race that the Watchers interfered with, giving them nuclear power, used it to destroy themselves and, on returning, the survivors blamed the Watchers.
This time, there are not even survivors, as befitting a planet that had fought a nuclear war. There is nothing left at all. No one left to even take revenge.
Unless of course…
But no, he also looks at Uatu’s relationship with his father, Ikon, made more explicit in this retelling – and allows’s Nova to compare it to his own relationship with his father, ex-Nova and drunkard wastrel.
It’s rather a good moment.
Jim Cheung is also the perfect Marvel artist for this one shot. His work is cartoony, full of positive bouncy life and a contrast with the photo realistic work of Mike Deodato to come. Where as Deodato now used blacks and shadow to define his characters, Cheung, uses the line to define, even to define and separate one silhouetted figure from a black background. At its heart is brightness. Because this is before Uatu’s death, there is optimism and possibility here, that will soon all be done away with. Even the bad guy from the beginning of the issue isn’t really that bad, Tomazooma, The Living Totem, ripped straight from Fantastic Four #80. It’s all fun, fun, fun.
And Nova and Uatu are two perfect characters for Cheung, thanks to his propensity to exaggerate certain features, the larger heads with the smaller features within, are perfect for a teenage frame and for that of a Watcher as well.
Issue 1 however throws all that away, characters built from shadow, with far fewer lines to define their edges, The look of a photo, an illustration, rather than a cartoon. In fact there are actual photos , or computer generated images used here, giving the idea that this is serious, it is rooted in reality, even as the Watcher stands in his city on the moon… watching.
“Today… today that feeling tells him for the first time in his very long life… that he won’t be going anywhere.”
It’s not all doom and gloom. There are sparks of light, the lunchtime banter between Wolverine, The Black Widow, Captain America and Nick Fury, before they meet up with Thor and Iron Man on the moon (you may have seen them all in recent movies) as they look past over their lives. Watch them, even.
And yes, if you have read the publicity, you know where this is going. The murder of The Watcher, and the removal of his eyes and his stuff. Yes, both of them.
Issue 0 emphasised how The Watcher sees everything in all realities, simultaneously – as well as what he might be looking for. But Issue 1 shows the danger of that. Information held by an incredibly benign host that proved very dangerous if its stolen, or used in a way that wasn’t intended.
And suddenly the Marvel Universe has the Wikileaks to end all leaks. Information and power.
“So we’ve got a killer on the loose, armed with a gun that can kill a Watcher. And now he’s loaded with enough stolen super tech to do god knows what”
“Don’t forget about the eyes”
Which is why the we have a bunch of other folks, split up into wacky teams, taking on wacky tasks that will no doubt all knit together beautifully over time. Ant Man, Emma Frost and Black Panther going underground, Doctor Strange and The Punisher travelling the planes of existence, Moon Knight and the Winter Soldier in space, Spider-Man and The Thing on the ground… even Gamora turns up. Marvel Studios should be pleased. It’s silly, very silly, but there is the murder hanging over all of it, which brings that silly tone down somewhat.
The concept of Original Sin isn’t just a cool title though. The Bible tells us that original sin was as a result of eating from the Tree Of Knowledge. Knowledge doesn’t always tell us the good, it tells us the bad. And it seems that the knowledge gained from the Watcher in whatever form it was taken is causing problems, creating Sin, and even possessing the knowledge can be too much to bear. Oh, and the weapons to match. There are casualties, and there’s even tragedy for the bad guys here. If that is what they are of course.
This is a superhero comic trying to pretend to be a murder mystery with religious symbolism all over the place – even pushing out some of the more superheroic aspects of the book. Which considering this comic has fight scenes, trips to the Moon and secret underground lairs is an impressive attempt. Everyone is rushing around madly, while the plan starts to unfold. In trying to be a murder mystery, it’s being a whydunnit as much as it is a whodunnit.
It might even be succeeding…