Tag Team Review: 'Original Sin' #5: Hey, Seriously, What Is the Unseen?A comic review article by: Shawn Hill, Kevin Reilly, Jamil Scalese
Shawn Hill: Well, here it is, Nick Fury’s Secret History of the Universe. And while Deodato makes sure to deliver both that Howling Commando and that Steranko in Space flair, the story actually didn’t advance very far. If it really was Nick killing all these menaces (including Living Planets and other possibly benign creatures), he still hasn’t told us why he took out the Watcher. Or, in Ant-Man’s words, why he’s so old?!
Jamil Scalese: Had this not been the middle issue of an otherwise succulent crossover it could easily could justify a Grade A rating. Mike Deodato’s art looks as sharp and precise as ever, carrying this superhero noir every step of the way as it goes deeeep underground. Superspies have always been sexy, and Nick is a bit of a sex symbol himself with that infamous hanging holster and all, but Deodato ramps it up when he shows us Fury wielding a huge sniper rifle after assassinating a would-be conqueror from the perch of an asteroid. That’s fucking badass.
The character and legacy of Nick Fury. Sr is evolving. The old spy reveals via a lengthy flashback that outside of his SHIELD activities he’s held another position, “the man at the wall”, an extremely clandestine gig where mysterious benefactors donate tech, science and intel to a lone man who is the ultimate defender of Earth. Nick is the green bullet killer the B-listers have been looking for, but he claims the trial of monster corpses were threats to Earth’s survival.
I think the “man at the wall” storyline is pregnant with potential but this bomb of secrets slowed things down way too much for a series that previously boasted near-perfect pace.
Kevin Reilly: Yeah, guys, here we are at the exposition dump. I absolutely adore that it’s taken so long to get to this point. Flashing back gives us the opportunity for some absolutely absurd, cheesy dialogue, and Aaron delivers with aplomb. Once again, all of the praise I have spouted before remains true.
It’s a fun read, but I couldn’t help but feel… disconnected. Maybe it’s because I’m very quickly falling out of love with superhero comics-- but that’s something else entirely-- but despite how exciting and fun the last four or so issues have been, I just can’t bring myself to feel anything about this. Maybe because there’s really only half a mystery revealed here, or that the thing slowed to an incredible, uncomfortable crawl.
Still, I can’t help but feel completely right in my guesses before… and that might be my problem with this otherwise great miniseries.
Jamil: The cover itself is a testament to how divergent this issue is. Julian Totino Tedesco has provided some brilliant pieces for the series. They evoke a very pulpy, dime-novel aesthetic that fits perfectly with the mood, but holy shit does the front of #5 have nothing to do with its interior.
First, while we're presented with the question of "What is The Unseen?" in big bold letters we get next to squat about who/what is apparently the big bad of the comic. Only the Orb really seems to know what's going on with The Unseen and obviously he's a tad out his mind so we can consider him unreliable.
Second, the characters on the cover aren't even the primary focus anymore, at least for this segment of the story. As much as I love a nicely illustrated shot of Cap, Spidey, Logan and Stark gazing into the abyss it would have been a more powerful shot with say, Bucky, Gamora, Panther and Punisher in their stead.
Complaining about comic covers is pretty lame so I guess it shows that overall this was a pretty rad issue, just not on par with the first half of the mini. The Nick-centric flashback ran a touch too long but it also answered some inquiries we had and added a rich layer of storytelling potential to Marvel's resident spy extraordinaire. It makes a lot of sense that Earth's secret assassin, our "man at the wall", would have problems with an omnipresent being like the Watcher aware of his questionable, well, murders.
Given this minor pit stop I expect Original Sin to rev up in the home stretch. There's just been too much groundwork, too many dangling mysteries, for it not deliver at this point.
Shawn: As long as the focus is kept on unraveling mysteries, and maybe what it means for the Marvel Universe not to have these quasi-deities to kick them around anymore. This issue’s standstill leaves us clueless as to where Aaron is heading, but it’s still possible it won’t be the same unfulfilling anti-climax of previous crossovers. It’s just got to stay weird, and not let Nick be the only player in charge.
TIE-IN TIE UP!
Fantastic Four #6
(Robinson, Kirk, Kesel, Haspiel, Woodard)
I wasn’t impressed with this latest FF reboot (maybe I just hate the red costumes?), and this issue doesn’t do much initially to change my mind. The effrontery of the FF being turned away from the Baxter Building by the Avengers (when even Johnny reminds Cap of his more rebellious Civil War stance) sets Sue off, but we don’t actually see the fight against the FF’s most powerful member.
Instead, we focus on the muted family dynamic, with Sue only worried over the children (who have been taken into custody), and the rest of the team at odds with each other, especially once Ben finds out Johnny’s secret. I get it, this is James Robinson, one of his specialties is finding the feet of clay of formerly upbeat superheroes. I’m just not always willing to go along with his smear campaigns. And if Original Sin tie-ins are going to be all about not mystery, but guilt trips aimed at alienating formerly noble heroes, I may not opt in any further.
But then the issue flashes back to the secret in question, and Dean Haspiel provides a retro Kirby pastiche that is fun and attractive (if rather belying the masterful mix of drama and comedy of the old days) and sort of wipes away the bitter memory of the first half of the book with shallow but engaging humor. A very mixed bag.
Follow along with Original Sin by checking out the rest of our tag-team reviews: