Marvel’s Original Sin
Original Sin, Marvel’s big summertime story arc, is chugging away with three issues already on store shelves. Like most of Marvel’s recent blowouts, the story has cosmic reach, but unlike say, Annihilation, Original Sin has a decidedly un-cosmic feel. Peek below the fold for my perspective on Marvel’s latest event. There will be some spoilers for issues 1 through 3 below. You have been warned!
In a radical departure from Marvel’s “typical” cosmic fare, which is normally replete with star ships and space gods, Original Sin is a noir-tinged murder mystery that hits much closer to home. Someone shot Uatu the Watcher, the vigilant and enigmatic being that observes the doings of Earth’s heroes and villains from the Blue Zone of the moon, and it’s going to take an eclectic cast of Marvel’s heroes to figure out whodunit. Writer Jason Aaron, most notable for stints penning gritty runs of Punisher and Ghost Rider, shines in the context of the espionage-mystery tone he set with issue one and continued through issue three. Despite the spacey subject matter, it feels like Aaron is in his comfort zone… which makes me wonder if he was really the perfect guy to pen a story that is increasingly otherworldly. That said, like Tarantino, where Aaron’s writing shines is in his dialog, which is worth the price of admission itself. Rather than having the twenty or so heroes involved in the main arc separate into predictable groupings with well established relationships to play with, Aaron has fun making pairs of the likes of Punisher and Doctor Strange, and Emma Frost and Ant-Man, to give all of the players opportunities to interact and trade barbs outside their classic circles. Best of all: it works–entirely on the strength of Aaron’s writing and characterizations.
But what of the story itself? Historically, Marvel’s major events have the most lasting consequences for the typically… uh… “fluid”… continuity of the Marvel Universe. That said, I suspect Uatu is not gone for long (besides, who would be left to lead in the inevitable and awesome “What If” stories if not the Watcher? Who, damnit!?). In my opinion, issue 3’s “shocking” death of the fresh-out-of-retirement Nick Fury, who came back for one last op to find the Watcher’s killer, is far more likely to be the reverberating consequence of Original Sin than the Watcher’s demise. In fact, Fury’s death felt pretty thoroughly predictable from Original Sin number one, as “Nick Fury, Jr.,”–who looks curiously like the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Fury (unlike Ultimate Fury, who is actually Samuel L. Jackson translated into the paperverse)–has been increasingly supplanting the classic grizzled Fury to bring the comics into closer alignment with the movies. This will be the one time Fury wasn’t actually a Life Model Decoy. Mark my words.
Mike Deodato’s art is stunning and dark. His use of shadow is reminiscent of Mike Mignola and perfectly suited to the Ludlum-novel-in-outerspace tone of the story arc. Together, Aaron and Deodato are creating a tightly cohesive package that has a tone somewhat unique in the Marvel Universe. Even with somewhat predictable beats, the offbeat pairings, dialog, and art make Original Sin something special. Give this one a read.