Review: 'Original Sin' #0 reveals that the Watcher is a terrible interior decoratorA comic review article by: Shawn Hill, Jamil Scalese
Jamil Scalese: Over the past few months I've been spending most of my reading time catching up on series and stories I've fallen woefully behind on. Secret Avengers (v2) was pretty good although incomplete, Jonah Hex has been a mixed bag of team ups and status quo changes, and Black Science is a bit puzzling though consistently fun. Due to my backlog I haven't paid any attention to Marvel's Original Sin even though I knew I would end up reading it. As such, I basically had no idea what to expect other than the death of the creepy bald man who seems only to show up for the important stuff.
Those three series I mentioned above were a random selection of comics I've been reading lately but after typing them out I realize they segue into talking about Original Sin. While they seem divergent Secret Avengers, Jonah Hex and Black Science have all hinged their core plots on some type of time travel or multiple universe device. To my mild surprise this also seems to be a major plot thread in Original Sin and I think it's an indicator of what's happening in fiction right now.
Time travel is rampant. So much so that Marvel just focused the back half of an entire crossover on its overuse last spring. But it's not just comics, which have always embraced alternate paths.
The cousin concept of multiple universes appears to be an important factor to the big secrets of the event, and while my inner love of flux capacitors salivates for more brain food I'm questioning the originality of Original Sin. That said, this is an excellent stage-setting issue and hopefully a pacesetter in terms of quality for the series.
Shawn Hill: Quality of the art, definitely. Jim Cheung is always good for a multi-character epic. Quality of the story, I'm less sure. Another trope of sci-fi is how often the quest into space or time ends up being about the search for a father. Sometimes it's god (Prometheus), sometimes it's the devil (Event Horizon), sometimes it's literally your daddy (Contact) -- I'm not sure if I was ready to learn that Uatu's daddy issues are just as bad as young Nova's (who came off to me as a little shallow and naive). I realize it was a prologue, and as such Nova probably won’t be much of a focal character, but nothing going on with him in this issue has made me wish otherwise.
Jamil: I’m unfamiliar with Nova, so I found the rehash helpful. It’s hard to refute that his voice is a little whiny, but I also got a bit of a young Peter Parker vibe from it too, which I enjoyed. Sam Alexander possesses a deeply honest viewpoint, and when put against the clandestine nature of the The Watcher there’s a energy that works for me.
The last time we covered a #0 together I hated how the information was presented, clunky and unoriginal, but I really liked the way Mark Waid built this story, allowing the exposition to channel through the eyes (and mouth) of the inexperienced Nova. It doesn’t seem like Sam will have too much to do with the core issues, and his presence probably has a lot to do with a certain August 2014 movie, but he’s an appropriate protagonist for this issue.
Shawn: However, I thought the Watcher wasn’t quite himself, either. I know he’s had art or at least inscrutable devices in his moonbase alpha-pad before, and to just fill it with vague machinery this time was a bit of a letdown. Heck he had a wife and a baby in the last story I read about him! I like it better when he’s mysterious and kind of tricky. And hanging with the big guys like Galactus or Mephisto.
And then he puts Nova’s gift on display like it’s the only piece of art he’s ever seen? It was just all a little forced to me, I guess. However, I did like the way Sam was getting warnings from his suit that basically amounted to “you’re in a place we’re in no way prepared for.” Rather than Peter Parker, I felt reminded of DC’s teenage Blue Beetle and his battle-scarab-suit.
Jamil: They gravely redefined Uatu. He hasn't always been the “strong, silent type" they try to portray here. (Hell, I can remember an issue of Bendis' Avengers run where the guy wouldn't STFU). Though believe this is a better characterization than what we've seen previous, particularly because he's been treated more as a narrative tool (an agent of foreshadowing) than a protagonist/antagonist.
I'm not looking forward to a bloated eight-part series but #0 did give me some hope in terms of quality. I pretty much agree with what you said though, the issue boasts strong art, with some truly intense sequences. Of note is the kind of awesome, though admittedly vague, Multiversal Friction Engine that Jason Aaron will assumingly expound upon later
I liked it, you didn't love it, but I think we're both open to this series, even with the ambiguous content and scope. Time travel and daddy issues are kind of played out, but when a crossover comes a-callin' I'll be open to it every single time, in all possible futures.