Original Sin


By Jason Aaron, Mike Deodato Jr., Frank Martin & many and various (Marvel/Panini UK)
ISBN: 978-1-84653-632-8

Win’s Christmas Gift Recommendation: Solid Superhero Blockbuster Entertainment… 8/10

Once upon a time massive crossover events starring an entire company’s pantheon of superstars were rare and eagerly anticipated occurrences. These days, however, it seems costumed champions and aggregated universe-savers stagger from one catastrophic crisis to the next with barely time to wipe their boots or iron their capes.

Still, it’s hard to complain when the results are as gripping and controversial as Original Sin

Spanning April to August 2014, this chunky volume collects miniseries Original Sin #0-8 and the 5-issue follow-up anthology Original Sins, taking a good, hard look at the dark underbelly of the Marvel Universe, removing a number of major characters and laying the groundwork for more shocking revelations in the months to come…

The main event is written by Jason Aaron, with Mike Deodato Jr. illustrating and Frank Martin providing the colours, but before that all unfolds issue #0 cunningly provides invaluable background with artists Jim Cheung, Paco Medina, David Meikis, Mark Morales, Guillermo Ortego, Juan Vlasco and Justin Ponsor setting all the plates spinning in ‘Who is the Watcher?

Sam Alexander is still just a kid but he’s also the newest Nova of the alien peacekeeping force pledged to policing the universe. He’s inherited the role from his dad, a drunken deadbeat the boy had always believed to be a delusional fantasist.

Now the boy spends his days on the moon, trying to befriend the austere and aloof cosmic voyeur Uatu the Watcher, an impossibly powerful, immortal being who views all that occurs throughout the vast multiverse but never acts on any of it…

As a tenuous relationship develops Sam learns the tragic origin of the Watcher race’s sacred vow of non-interference and gleans another secret: his long-vanished father is not dead…

The shocks come thick and fast in this thriller which is more murder mystery than celestial Armageddon scenario so I’m attempting to reveal enough to tempt without giving anything away…

In ‘No One is Watching’, a quiet dinner for Wolverine, Captain America, Black Widow and super spy Nick Fury (the original WWII one, not the son who’s currently appearing in all those movies) is interrupted by an ominous phone call. Thor is on the Moon and has found The Watcher murdered…

Rapidly relocating to Luna the heroes see that the all-powerful celestial has not only been shot in the head but cruelly mutilated. His huge, all-seeing eyes are missing. Moreover his fantastic citadel has been demolished and the incredible storehouse of artefacts and weaponry from across the universe pillaged.

Grizzled veteran Fury points out that the limited number of people who even knew about the cosmic observer, let alone possessed the power to harm him, means the suspect pool must necessarily include not only villains but heroes too…

Meanwhile in the great Necropolis of Wakanda, the Black Panther is being updated by a shadowy figure calling itself The Unseen. The nebulous source also emphasises that in the days to come, with the kind of technologies the killer now possesses, nobody can be trusted, urging former King T’Challa to lead a distinctly offbeat team in a clandestine parallel investigation of the cosmic assassination…

Soon mystic master Dr. Strange, current Ant-Man – and former criminal – Scott Lang, Winter Soldier “Bucky” Barnes, telepathic X-Man Emma Frost, “deadliest woman in the galaxy” Gamora, former CIA spook and mercenary Moon Knight and wanted mass-murderer FrankThe PunisherCastle are following up leads somehow not available to Fury and the Avengers, even as on Earth The Thing battles a monster which might be connected to the crime…

The creature is a Mindless One from Dormammu’s Dark Dimension but this particular destructive horror now has a personality and even telepathic powers. It also wants to die and even with Spider-Man’s aid Ben Grimm is unable to stop it committing suicide using the Ultimate Nullifier which used to belong to Uatu…

By the time Fury and the Avengers arrive all that’s left is a scene of devastation, and the retired super spy officially takes over the investigation of what is now clearly a much bigger and growing problem…

Splitting up, the secret searchers travel to vastly differing locations in ‘Bomb Full of Secrets’ with the Panther, Frost and Ant-Man heading to the under-Earth kingdoms and uncovering a vast graveyard of monsters, whilst Castle and Strange voyage to a mystic realm where a magical leviathan has been killed by a incredibly large bore gamma bullet…

On Earth Fury has captured another rampaging No-Longer-Mindless One and is on the trail of the unlikely culprits who have brought the eldritch berserkers to Earth. Dr. Midas, his daughter Exterminatrix and The Orb were never A-List villains – or even contenders – but with one of Uatu’s eyes in their possession not only do they have access to everything the Watcher ever saw but the actual organ also mutates and transforms anything in its proximity into immensely powerful things never meant to be…

When a full team of Avengers raid the bad guys’ New York lair, a cataclysmic struggle ensues which ends as the Orb unleashes all the stored knowledge within the eye. In an instant, heroes, villains and innocent bystanders alike are engulfed in a wave of uncomfortable answers as every hidden detail of trillions of lives seen by Uatu for millions of years is randomly released and psychically downloaded like a ‘Bomb Full of Secrets’ into the mindscape of the world…

In the aftermath ‘Trust No One, Not Even Yourself’ sees the city reeling with the shock of uncounted disclosures – from stolen snacks to secret affairs to murders all coming to light – whilst at the centre of the Earth Ant-Man has finished recovering hundreds of gamma-bullets from the unending field of monster corpses.

In deep space Gamora, Winter Soldier and Moon Knight have followed their trail to a dead world. It takes a subtle shift of perspective and a sneaking suspicion to confirm that they are standing on a colossal, once-living planet-sized organism riddled with gamma-bullets…

The frustrated spacefarers chafe at the lead which has resulted in a dead end, but everything changes as Winter Soldier suddenly teleports out, blowing their ship up as he leaves. The Unseen’s covert investigators now have their first solid suspect…

On Earth Fury is pondering upon who might have Uatu’s other eye when Winter Soldier beams in and kills him…

‘Secret Warriors’ then focuses on growing divisions as Punisher and Dr. Strange steal Fury’s body whilst Barnes, holding the eye taken from his most recent victim, heads to the Watcher’s shattered lunar home before beaming into a hidden satellite.

His infiltration of the stellar fortress coincides with the arrival of his understandably aggrieved former associates and another brawl breaks out. The carnage is only curtailed when The Unseen appears…

It is a trusted ally who has been playing them all from the start…

The betrayer then recounts ‘The Secret History of Colonel Nicholas J. Fury’, disclosing how half a century ago a man named Woody McCord died battling an alien invasion, one of hundreds the hidden hero had stopped without the world even suspecting.

With the covert assistance of millionaire industrialist Howard Stark and his shadowy cabal, the replacement had become a “Man in the Wall”, spending all his days killing monsters, repelling demons and despatching extraterrestrial threats to mankind.

But with his death another – still relatively clean and idealistic – soul had to step in and continue doing all the unavoidable dirty jobs proper superheroes would baulk at.

This was achieved with no one the wiser whilst keeping up appearances in the “day job” as a shiny, bright public champion…

With clearly nothing as it seems, ‘Open Your Eye’ reveals how Dr. Midas, the Orb and Exterminatrix attacked Uatu, taking his eye. In the now The Watcher-mutated Orb demands the traitor tell the rest of the truth.

The second Man in the Wall is now dying too and convened the Panther’s investigation team to ferret out a suitable replacement ready to defend Earth with absolute resolution, deadly gamma bullets and no remorse…

As the failing warrior explains the true circumstances of Uatu’s death in ‘Nick Fury Vs. the World’ the possessor of the Watcher’s other – until now missing – eye is shockingly exposed and the fighting resumes. With Midas making one final push for ultimate power, the mess gets even messier as the Avengers, having pursued their own lines of enquiry, bust in and a frantic free-for-all begins…

With all the secrets laid bare and an event of cosmic importance clearly occurring a group of other Watchers materialise – and does nothing – as the Man in the Wall clashes with Earth’s champions; citing morality and expediency until Midas’ final gambit interrupts everything and already-transformed Orb steals the other eye, triggering a devastating detonation. When the dust settles a transmogrified Orb is loose to roam the Earth, a third Man in the Wall takes up the gamma-gun and waits for the next invasion and a newly transformed figure haunts the Moon as ‘The One Who Watches’

The miniseries generated 44 tie-in issues scattered through 14 other titles, but this compilation skips right to the end, to spotlighting a number of quirky vignettes from Original Sins #1-5, focusing on the fallout from the wave of secrets which were released to blanket the world after The Orb triggered Uatu’s eye.

Eschewing strict chronology for comprehension the exposures begin with all five chapters of Young Avengers serial ‘Hidden in Plain Sight’ (by Ryan North, Ramon Villalobos & Jordan Gibson) which sees Hulkling, Marvel Boy and Prodigy attempt a different way of dealing with demon-possessed felon The Hood.

The skeevy rat wants to extract all the knowledge forcibly inserted into the heads of an entire building full of recreational drug-takers who were all high when the “Secrets Bomb” went off… not for himself, of course, but because the data is basting the minds of the already brain-fried kids and killing them.

Happily complying with such a selfless request, the Young Avengers seem to have forgotten one basic fact: demon-possessed felons have secret agendas and often lie…

Following swiftly on, ‘Terminus’ (Nathan Edmondson, Mike Perkins & Andy Troy) finds S.H.I.EL.D. agent Seth Horn pressing commuter Henry Hayes on his other identity as cyborg assassin Deathlok.

The psychic fact-insertions might have pushed incontrovertible truths into people’s heads but it did nothing to augment common sense or self-preservation…

That is also apparent in ‘Black Legacy’ (Frank Tieri, Raffaele Ienco & Brad Anderson) as writer Rebecca Stevens stalks Dane Whitman and challenges him with the bleak history of the curse of the Ebony Blade – a fearsome plight the traumatised Black Knight is already agonisingly aware of…

‘Whispers of War’ (Charles Soule, Ryan Brown & Edgar Delgado) finds newly Terrigen-enhanced (see Inhumanity) Lineage suddenly party to the true story of King Black Bolt’s greatest mistake and thus apprised of a fresh and now unavoidable conflict with the star-spanning Kree in the offing, whilst ‘Checkmate’ (James Robinson, Alex Maleev & Chris Peter) proves to ambitious businessman Gil Carmichael that insider information isn’t everything when the exposed secrets are Dr. Doom’s…

Nick Fury then callously reveals to lifelong comrade Dum Dum Dugan ‘How the World Works’ (Al Ewing. Butch Guice, Scott Hanna & Matthew Wilson) after which the funnier side of secrets comes to the fore in ‘Lockjaw: Buried Memory’ (Stuart Moore, Rick Geary & Ive Svorcina), Howard the Duck learns his place in ‘Before Your Eyes’ (Ty Templeton & Paul Mounts) and a Daily Bugle archivist uncovers the wrong review of Spider-Man’s early showbiz career in ‘Bury the Lead’ (Dan Slott, Mark Bagley, Joe Rubinstein & Mounts).

The glimpses into minds’ eyes ends with ‘Catharsis’ (David Abadta, Pablo Dura & Erica Henderson) as an anonymous Inuit flashes back to a distant moment in the arctic with a star spangled ice-cube before the whole shebang concludes with an outrageous and hilarious sequence of false memories starring Marvel’s biggest stars in ‘The No-Sin Situation’ by Chip Zdarsky…

With 43 covers-&-variants by Cheung, Ponsor, Julian Totino Tedesco, Mark Brooks, Paulo Manuel Rivera, Skottie Young, Art Adams, Zdarsky, Steve McNiven, Agustin Alessio, Gabriele Dell’Otto, Stephanie Hans, Guice, Marco Checchetto, Paul Renaud, Mike McKone & Jeun-Siik Ahn, this is a stunning and sensational saga that will delight any Fights ‘n’ Tights fan with a passing knowledge of Marvel history and comes fully loaded with digital extras accessible via the AR icon sections (Marvel Augmented Reality App) which give access to story bonuses if you download the free code from marvel.com onto your smartphone or Android-enabled tablet.

™ & © 2014 Marvel & Subs. Licensed by Marvel Characters B.V. through Panini S.p.A. All rights reserved. A British Edition published by Panini Publishing, a division of Panini UK, Ltd.