Friday, 25 April 2014

Original Sin #0 Review (Mark Waid, Jim Cheung)

Who is The Watcher? asks the front cover, and it’s a valid question. For many new readers brought in by Marvel’s recent re-launches, the Watcher is a curious figure. A giant humanoid alien with an even bigger, bald head and pupil-less eyes and a penchant for togas, Uatu aka The Watcher, is a holdover from classic Marvel – a figure whose appearance signalled the onset of ominous events to come, but who in recent years has barely figured in their range of comics. So it’s unsurprising to hear the character is to be killed off with his death kicking off this year’s Marvel Summer Event, Original Sin.

But he’s not dead yet! Comics legend Mark Waid writes the prelude issue to the Event, Original Sin #0, focusing on Uatu and informing us about this odd character’s background and why his death would have the impact it will in the Marvel Universe. Waid uses Sam Alexander, aka Nova, as the audience stand-in for this comic, neatly summarising Jeph Loeb’s first Nova book in a couple of pages before having Sam voice the question to the Avengers that most readers will likely have: why is The Watcher watching – to what end?

Nova’s curiosity sends him to Uatu’s home on the moon to find out first-hand and we get to see what the inside of The Watcher’s place is like. Waid weaves in what could be clues, foreshadowing or macguffins hinting at Uatu’s murder with Nova’s helmet screaming at him that danger is on the way, multiple ghostly versions of the Watcher appearing and then disappearing, and then revealing Uatu’s armoury which houses the ultimate nullifier (a weapon that can destroy entire galaxies!). Waid does also answer the cover question and shows us why Uatu watches, all of which has a tragic flavour, as could probably be guessed.

Jim Cheung seems to be the go-to artist for drawing opening issues of Marvel Events, drawing Original Sin #0 as well as last year’s Infinity #1, and he does a great job. He throws in some interesting visuals like when Uatu reveals what he watches and how with the effect being very disorientating. But my favourite panel is when Sam introduces himself to Uatu and gives him a present: a piece of the battlefield from when the Avengers and the X-Men defeated the Phoenix Force - Uatu’s expression is brilliant and very funny!

Original Sin #0 is a decent comic that’s well-written and does what it needs to – establish the character of Uatu and set up the forthcoming murder mystery – but it’s not terribly exciting. Intellectually it makes sense and even seems to give away the reasons behind Uatu’s impending death, while already eliminating some possible suspects. However, given that this issue should also be making readers excited about Original Sin, it’s not exactly a pulse-pounding prelude and, I suspect, will be an inessential issue for the forthcoming series as nothing much really happens.

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