Monday, July 7, 2014

Marvel’s got a winner with its Original Sin

Marvel’s got a winner with its Original Sin
by rick olivares

Original Sin is Marvel’s latest event storyline, Original Sin, features a premise that at once seems logical in the sense that, “why didn’t I think of this before,’ and this can push the 616 Universe in all sorts of directions better than any other crossover event they can think of.

Let me get this out of the way, I haven’t been overly a fan of crossover stories that seem to be more gimmick-driven that real honest to goodness storytelling-driven arcs. In fact, the one crossover I truly enjoyed was Operation: Galactic Storm that ran in the Avengers-related books from March to May of 1992. But when you think about it, it’s a rehash of the Kree-Skrull War except in this one, the Skrulls were in the background manipulating the conflict between their ancient enemies and the Shiar.

Original Sin interested me because of the premise of “who killed the Watcher and why” and the creative team behind the books – writer Jason Aaron and artist Mike Deodato.

Looking at the writer-artist tandem behind Original Sin, Aaron has been writing some terrific books of late – Thor: God of Thunder and Southern Bastards while Brazilian artist Mike Deodato has provided gorgeous pencils on books such as Wonder Woman, Thor, The Incredible Hulk, and Thunderbolts to name a few.

From what I have read and gleaned from Aaron’s style, he moves the story forward rather quickly but manages to tell the backstory in timely flashbacks.  The man knows how to keep readers enthralled (and that is the word to describe how I feel when reading his works).

Mike Deodato’s style is like a more refined Marc Silvestri with Neal Adams-like perspectives. And he sure knows how to heighten the mood with his understanding of light and shadow.

With those two putting this together you know it’s going to be good.

The Watcher’s death sees several different sets of heroes -- who are unaware of their other’s purpose – on the trail of the killers. One group goes up against the villains of the piece – Exterminatrix and the Orb – but the latter activates the Watcher’s Eye that unleashes a wave of energy that exposes them to previously hidden secrets or erased parts of their lives. It divides the heroes as some attend to the unlocked mysteries while others continue their pursuit of the villains.

The other groups – seemingly put together by Nick Fury – discovers the bodies of lifeless monsters, aliens, and Ego-like planets all killed with gamma-irradiated bullets leads to – Nicky Fury! When the different groups converge they are all suspicious of one another and nearly go after each other when a bunch of Nick Furys appear; there’s an aged on apparently with the Infinity Formula drying out of system and a bunch of what are obviously Life Model Decoys.

Fury reveals that for the last several decades, he has not only worked with SHIELD but has protected the Earth in a covert manner from all sorts of alien, monster, and extra-dimensional invasions using his gun and gamma-irradiated bullets. Now that revelation ties up his reason for going to the ground during the Secret Invasion.

But issue #5 (of the eight issue series) ends there leaving us with another cliffhanger – until the next two weeks.

It makes sense to steal the Watcher’s secrets; after all, he sees and records everything. Information is both gold and power. It stands to reason that what he knows can hurt and destabilize a lot of people. Furthermore, he’s got an armory that can literally destroy the universe.

The villains behind the piece are Dr. Midas, Exterminatrix, and the Orb. Of the three the latter is literally a Z-list villain and Aaron makes no bones about it. Midas on the other hand, first appeared in Grant Morrison’s Marvel Boy and was revealed to be perhaps the world’s richest man with connections to SHIELD as well as governments and their various agencies. That sets him up as possibly the most dangerous person in the Marvel Universe.

While a lot has been revealed very early that only leads to more questions.

While it seems that everything immediately points to Dr. Midas and company as well as Nick Fury, I do not believe that the creative team simply revealed their hand right away.

There’s the matter of All-New X-Men #25; an issue that probably serves as an unreported tie-in to the main Original Sin arc.

In that issue, Hank McCoy is revealed to be talking to some figure that looks be like Charles Xavier. McCoy or the X-Men’s Beast, has been troubled by his bringing that original X-Men from the past into the present time to “save” the mutant race from genocide. Towards the latter end of the issue, it is revealed that McCoy isn’t talking to Xavier but Uatu the Watcher.

The Watcher informs the Beast that “A myriad of realities you have destroyed. You have guaranteed that the happiness and love and respect and adventure that you crave for your friends may never happen.”

The Beast implores the Watcher to help him put reality as it once was.

The Watcher says that he doesn’t act but only watches.

All-New X-Men #25 ends with McCoy wondering, “Maybe it is not too late. I can still make it right. I cans till fix this. I just need…”

So from one curveball to another the mystery just got a whole lot deeper. The McCoy angle isn’t previously know to many readers – unless you read All-New X-Men and have stumbled upon the connection just as I did. 

And despite being one huge massive ret-con (retroactive continuity that is comic book lingo for the alteration of previously established stories or facts behind works of fiction and is more related to comic books) this one sends the Marvel Universe spinning in all sorts of directions.

Not since Secret Wars has a crossover affected almost the entire line of Marvel books. And it sets up even more beguiling and intriguing storylines:
Was Tony Stark involved in the creation of the Hulk
How on Asgard did Angela (Neil Gaiman’s cosmic creation) become the long-lost sister of Thor and Loki?
Now that Captain America has possibly learned that he has been mind-wiped by Marvel’s version of the Illuminati, will this truly hurt his relationship not only with Iron Man but the other heroes?
And there’s more.

And perhaps, that is what makes Original Sin a winner of a crossover event. It doesn’t ram things down your throat (read X-Men Schism). You yourself want it and it is an engaging storyline that features top-notch writing and even more killer art.

In an age where we see rehashed stories (see the new Valiant Comics reboot) and unimaginative use of tired old concepts (hero versus hero in DC’s Trinity War), it’s good to see Original Sin make use of an unoriginal concept to breathe new life into it. The story straddles into near perfection and I say that because we have yet to see how it all ends.

And good ole storytelling has sadly been lacking in many comics today. Original Sin is an engaging story that neatly ties up a lot of loose ends but is never rammed down one’s throat.

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