Marvel’s latest crossover event has it all – The Avengers, The X-Men, and a murder mystery involving a dead Watcher.
Original Sin #1 (of 8)
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Mike Deodato
Publisher: Marvel Comics
WHO shot the Watcher? Was it a Kree in the kitchen? A Badoon in the bedroom? A Skrull in the scullery? Or was it … an Avenger in the anteroom?
After the time-travelling, space-faring excesses of last year’s triple whammy of crossover events (Age Of Ultron, Infinity and Battle Of The Atom), Marvel’s latest event – Original Sin – sees the House of Ideas dialling back the epicness and setting up a good old-fashioned murder mystery instead.
The premise is simple – Uatu The Watcher (you know, that big, bald Charlie Brown lookalike who lives on the moon and watches over EVERYTHING) is shot and killed by an unknown assailant, and the Avengers have appointed Nick Fury (the original one, not the Samuel L. Jackson wannabe) as head of a special investigative team to find out what happened.
Instead of making this an outright Avengers or X-Men team, Fury (ahem) assembles an eclectic team that cherry-picks some of the most interesting and out-of-left-field characters in Marvel’s roster. These include the Sorcerer Supreme (Dr Strange), the former King of Wakanda (Black Panther), a wanted renegade X-Man (Emma Frost), the world’s most successful mass-murderer (The Punisher), a former Russian assassin and Captain America sidekick (Winter Soldier), a reformed criminal and former leader of the Future Foundation (Ant Man), a schizophrenic lunar-themed vigilante (Moon Knight), and a Guardian of the Galaxy who is known as the most dangerous woman in the universe (Gamora).
Good luck keeping THIS team together, Nick.
Back on Earth, Spider-Man and The Thing tangle with a Mindless One that has inexplicably come into the possession of the Ultimate Nullifier (the universe’s most devastating weapon, with the power to nullify, well, ANYTHING), a battle that ends somewhat mysteriously as well.
With one riddle piling up after another and the still-unnamed new team (The Avenge-tigators? The Super Finder-Outers?) splitting up to look for leads, the murder of the Watcher begins to seem more than just a simple crime.
Of the three Marvel events in 2013, Jonathan Hickman’s Infinity was probably the best, being a sprawling and elaborate epic involving battles on two fronts that, at the very least, did not have all those confusing time-travelling shenanigans the other events had. Original Sin has more in common with Infinity so far – the debut issue may have some city-levelling action, but it smacks of a much, much bigger story than we’re being led to believe.
Unlike Hickman, however, Aaron doesn’t seem to have the finesse or patience to play the long game. He is no stranger to long-running epics spanning time and dimensions, of course – his run on Thor, God Of Thunder involved three Thors of different ages fighting a single enemy – but here, he approaches the event like a game of Clue, establishing the crime, setting up the pieces, and getting the dice rolling from the get-go.
What I DO like about Original Sin is Aaron’s choice of characters. Sure, Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Wolverine, and Spider-Man make appearances, but Fury’s team is mostly made up of characters who don’t have the benefit of having a big-budget blockbuster to boost their profiles. Many of them may have their own solo titles now thanks to the All-New Marvel Now relaunch (including Moon Knight, Punisher and The Winter Soldier), but for the most part, they aren’t exactly A-list superheroes, which makes for some potentially interesting interactions (Dr Strange partnering The Punisher is an especially intriguing development).
The grizzled veteran Nick Fury leading the team is an inspired choice, though I think it’s a shame Uatu had to get killed in order to be directly involved in a major event. What a waste of a Watcher.
Anyway, the whodunit as a major comic event has been done before of course – DC Comic’s Identity Crisis was one of the better attempts at it – and Original Sin has good potential. Here’s hoping Aaron manages to keep the balance between the mystery and the action, and can maintain the current cast of lead characters without having to resort to bringing in the A-listers again.