After a mostly irrelevant (but still entertaining) zero issue, Marvel Comics’ latest event series really kicks off with Original Sin #1. Uatu the Watcher has been murdered, and it is left up to the Avengers (and a few non-Avengers) to find out whodunnit.
Written by Jason Aaron, with art by Mike Deodato, the issue does a lot of premise set-up, but that is standard for the first issue of miniseries. We open on the stoic, pupil-less eyes of the character who must have been the inspiration for Third Rock from the Sun‘s The Big Giant Head (I realized as I was typing this how antiquated that reference is – and I don’t care). After staring into the middle distance and thinking in third-person, Death comes for The Watcher. And it’s violent.
Like really violent. Well, not violent so much as gory. Dude’s got a hole right in the middle of his forehead and his eyes have been gouged out. And maybe Mike Deodato really wanted to draw that, but it’s the kind of thing that can be left up to the imagination regardless. I’m not one of those people who thinks comics are for kids (clearly – I read them and I’m an extremely mature adult), but I do think they should be accessible to a younger crowd. Marvel has been really good about this lately, especially in light of how popular their movies are, so I’m surprised they aren’t taking the same approach with their big summer event. I’m not trying to censor or stifle Jason Aaron or anything; I just think it would be nice if Original Sin were the kind of book a parent could hand to their kid without reservation. Oh no, I’m starting to sound old. Older than usual.
Here’s my problem: so far Original Sin – the rest of which deals with the two separate factions that will investigate Uatu’s murder – feels a lot like 2004’s Identity Crisis from DC Comics. A long-running, but fairly minor character is murdered and all of the heroes rally around finding the killer, unearthing buried truths that will forever change the blah blah blah. The fallout from Identity Crisis ended up being the discovery of secret rapes, secret mind-wipes, and the evil-ization of another long-running, but fairly minor character. It is not entirely fair of me to cast Original Sin in Identity Crisis‘s shadow, but who ever said I was fair?
I am more than willing to give Original Sin a chance to prove me wrong, however. Jason Aaron is an excellent writer, and he looks to be balancing his dark tendencies (a la Scalped) with lighter moments (a la Wolverine and the X-Men). There is a particularly strong segment toward the beginning of the issue where Wolverine, Captain America, Black Widow, and Nick Fury discuss their war days. World War II, that is. These are the “old men” of the Marvel Universe – the characters that have been alive for a very long time, kept with us through various means – and the idea that they regularly get together to swap stories and have a good-old-fashioned “meat night” is truly inspired.
The issue’s other great moment is the formation of a team to follow a lead in the Uatu case. Black Panther leads this group, but I won’t spoil the rest of the members, because the getting-the-band-back-together-for-the-first-time segment is really fun. The purposeful obtuseness regarding the team’s benefactor is pretty annoying though. That’s a trope I hate about comics: keeping a character’s identity secret, even though the other characters know who he or she (definitely “he” in this case) is.
Deodato’s art works well enough here. His style does not always hit; his attention to specific detail often saps his characters of the sense of kinetic energy that is required to keep comic art from feeling too static. This issue doesn’t call for too much action, so that’s not a huge problem yet, but I’m sure it will be.
I am extremely cautious regarding Original Sin‘s direction. Jason Aaron has yet to disappoint me, really, but it’s not as if I have read all of his work. I will try to keep an open mind over the next several months. Perhaps my caution can be whittled down to cautious optimism. Truly a daunting task.