Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Original Sin Complete Series Review (Jason Aaron, Mike Deodato)

Original Sin is Marvel’s big 2014 Summer Event comic. It’s a whodunit that revolves around the murder of Uatu, The Watcher, the giant bald-headed, toga-wearing man on the moon figure who pops up every now and then, watching things. Nick Fury and Captain America lead an all-star cast of Marvel’s Mightiest Heroes as they search for clues and hunt down the culprit - but who would want Uatu dead? And what do they want with his eyes…? 

Last year’s Age of Ultron was totally moronic while Infinity was just badly written (Jonathan Hickman is a great ideas man but not a great writer); Original Sin is neither but is instead just plain BORING. Or to be more specific, it’s overlong by half. Counting the #0 issue, this is a 9-issue story that could’ve been much better if it were 4 or 5 issues max. 

As it is, the #0 issue (written by Mark Waid) basically introduces The Watcher to readers unfamiliar with him; the #1 issue sets up the story; there’s about 2, maybe 3, issues where the various characters collect clues; there’s another issue where the murderer explains themselves; cut out a lot of this fat and you’ll be left with a much snappier, more satisfying story. 

Or would you? Because in addition to it being much too long, the story itself isn’t that gripping. Hands up who cares about The Watcher - and be honest! I doubt anyone would call themselves a “fan” of this dude. He’s a marginal character at best. I wasn’t that invested in finding out who killed this guy, especially when doing so is totally consequence-free. 

Also, it’s funny to note that even Jason Aaron seems to lose interest in Uatu some way into the story - it shifts from being about his death and what it means to the person whodunit and their reasons, which actually turns out to have much more severe consequences for the Marvel U than The Watcher’s death could ever have. 

Then there’s the format of the story itself which is essentially a police procedural, albeit with superheroes. I’m simply not a fan of crime fiction or police procedurals, so I didn’t care much to watch groups of superheroes find out clues, etc. on their way to figuring out The Watcher’s killer. 

The team-ups were interesting, at least on paper: the Punisher and Doctor Strange; Black Panther, Emma Frost and Ant Man; Moon Knight, Winter Soldier and Gamora; Iron Man and Bruce Banner. But they basically just collect clues then reunite - there’s little explored in their relationships and they don’t do much themselves either. 

That’s not to say I hated it entirely. By far the most impressive aspect of this event comic was Mike Deodato’s art. I’ve never really paid attention to his work before but his art in this book was outstanding and I think he did a terrific job giving the story this grandiose look. I’ll definitely keep an eye (hoho) out for his name on titles in the future. 

And there were some nice scenes like the meat night at the start of the story where Cap, Fury, Wolverine and Black Widow have dinner at this remote steakhouse and talk about old times. And there’s a bizarre detail in the investigation where it’s revealed a PLANET was SHOT by a BULLET and KILLED. That made me laugh - that was a true Jason Aaron nutty detail. 

But for large swathes of this story, I was barely paying attention. So many scenes were just flat and dull, stretched out to make it last longer. There’s a number of MacGuffins too, in keeping with the whodunit approach, that take up space. I just didn’t care for the most part and it didn’t matter either, you can still follow this even half paying attention. It doesn’t help either that we find out whodunit halfway through so all tension is lost, and the rest is just the usual superhero fights. 

Take away the after-effects this story had on the characters - and if you follow comics news, you’ll already be aware of what some of those effects are - and take a look at the book itself. Were you engaged with it? Did you enjoy it? And for me the answer to both is, no. So while Original Sin may not have the flaws other Marvel event comics have, it’s still not a great book because it’s an event comic - the format itself keeps it from being good. 

‘til the next Marvel event! … sigh (still a damn sight better than DC’s event comics!).

Original Sin

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