Graphic Novel Review: Original Sin

Original Sin

Original Sin - Credit: Archant

A Marvel mainstay is murdered... but whodunnit?

(Panini Books)

Uatu the Watcher is dead. The omniscient alien with a tenuous adherence to his race’s vow of non-interference has been assassinated by a mysterious gunman, and his eyes stolen posthumously.

An unlikely alliance of superheroes are tasked with investigating the crime by a mysterious source, with Black Panther, Emma Frost, Scott Lang (Ant-Man) exploring the centre of the Earth, Punisher and Doctor Strange travelling to Los Angeles, and Moon Knight, Gamora and Winter Soldier heading into deep space.

They soon uncover evidence of a decades-old conspiracy involving dead monsters, gamma-irradiated bullets and a covert mission to protect the Earth from extra-terrestial and supernatural invaders, no matter the cost…

Meanwhile, in New York, a battle between the Avengers and the supervillains responsible for stealing one of Uatu’s eyes - but not his murder - Orb and Exterminatrix, results in the eye being triggered, releasing a wave of energy which contains information observed by the Watcher over the years, including many of the heroes’ darkest secrets…

These “original sins” include such revelations as the identity of the second person bitten by the radioactive arachnid which gave Spider-Man his powers, the link between Tony Stark and the gamma bomb which turned Bruce Banner into the Hulk, and the fact that Thor and Loki have a long-lost sister…

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A crossover event which actually appears to have a long-lasting impact on the wider Marvel Universe, there’s a lot to like about Original Sin and its main companion series, the anthology Original Sins (both collected here).

The shift in the status quo surrounding the Watcher and another major Marvel mainstay offers plenty of potential for future story-telling, and unlike many of these blockbuster series, there’s plenty of attention given to a host of lesser-known characters instead of the usual Avengers/X-Men line-up.

As a straightforward murder mystery, it keeps the reader on their toes with various feints and switches, so much so that the final revelation of the killer’s identity is one of those facepalm moments that should have been obvious from the start.

Writer Jason Aaron is ably assisted by Mike Deodato on art, with back-up from a strong creative team in the spin-off title, which offers scope to look at the wider implications of the events in the main book. Highlights include the Young Avengers five-parter and the shocking revelations in the final, SHIELD-centric story.