Last year Marvel went on a roll with their events, doing no less than four, and giving start to another. And this year it looks like things are following suit and that Marvel is once again doubling down with events. A while back Marvel announced that its next big event would be about the death of the Watcher also known as Uatu. He is a mysterious galactic presence that sees all, hears all, notices all, but never interferes. He is merely a… silent guardian of events as they happen. And its just any old death, it is a murder, the murder of a being of cosmic proportions and power and it all starts today in Original Sin #0.
The issue, written by Mark Waid and drawn by Jim Cheung and Paco Medina, tells the origin of Uatu and how he came to be the Watcher. Through the current human Nova Sam Alexander, we get a great introduction to this silent guardian and see what motivates him and there are some excellent scenes where the two characters bond, although such bonding is fleeting at best. While Mark Waid’s story is suitably cosmic and grandiose, Jim Cheung and Paco Medina’s art is not too far behind either and they turn out some gorgeous artwork along with the other artists involved on the issue (series?).
The Watcher is not a character that I really care for all that much. I’ve seen him in pop-up here and there in various media over the years and he’s been a distant character at best as far as I’m concerned. So when Marvel announced Original Sin, I wasn’t exactly thrilled. But at the same time, my curiosity was tickled since the setup for this event is quite grandiose and since Mark Waid is the writer. I happen to love Mark Waid’s writing, mostly from what I’ve read of his Daredevil run and his (quite awesome) Superman: Birthright limited series. That alone was enough for me to buy the issue today and make it one of my first reads of the week. Funny how that turns out.
We start off this issue by getting an intro to Sam Alexander and seeing his origin story as a member of the interstellar Nova Corps, which is told in a very small handful of pages and is over quite succinctly. Sam has some father issues he’s dealt with all his life and they have made him into the man that he is today. Once past the intro, we move on to a quick comic-y action scene set in a New Mexico oil field where the Avengers also intervene and then Sam is off to the Moon, where Uatu presently lives and everything else follows.
There were three things that I loved about this issue, and they have to do with the three parts of the story as outlined above. First, in just five pages Mark Waid made Sam Alexander a much more interesting character to me than Jeph Loeb did with Nova #1 and Nova #2 when the title was launched as part of Marvel Now in 2013. I tried to get through the issues but they were a slog and I just couldn’t begin to care about the character. But now, after Chris Yost’s work on New Warriors and this issue, I do care about the character. In fact, I’m really intrigued by the character and just might give his series another try.
Second, I loved the fun nature of the action scene in which the Avengers also drop in. The dialogue is quite campy in a way, but then I totally saw it all as a light-hearted move to offset the seriousness of the story that follows next once Sam goes up to the Moon to talk with Uatu. Again, this is a brief action scene and is over pretty quick, so Mark Waid definitely doesn’t waste time on side details and existential crises.
Third, the entire exchange between Sam and Uatu is damn good. The former does all the talking of course, but even then, Mark Waid’s writing (combined with the artwork) got me to really care about Uatu as well, so that’s a success I suppose. And then we see Uatu’s origins, and the original sin that the Watchers first committed in their arrogance. Quite a moving story that touches on the issues that Sam has grown up with himself.
The art, as mentioned above, is mainlined by Jim Cheung and Paco Medina, with Justin Ponsor doing the colours. And there is an army of inkers here: Mark Morales, Guillermo Ortego, Dave Meikis, Juan Vlasco and Jim Cheung himself. VC’s Chris Eliopoulos does the letters, and the cover is handled by Cheung and Ponsor. Mostly, the artwork in this issue was a blast. Nice details, nice contrasts, and nice colour palettes. There were a few places where Uatu’s face seemed to lack definition however, and in the early pages it wasn’t quite clear whether Sam Alexander was a teenager or someone in 20s, since his face seemed to be drawn with a stubble, which was odd. But, I loved the action scenes in New Mexico and the desolate nature of the Moon was nicely captured as well.
Overall, quite a damn good issue and I’d certainly recommend it. Sam Alexander and Uatu convert here!