Marvel Teases ORIGINAL SIN and the Death of the Watcher
By Brian Martin | Graphic/Novels Editor Published: 01/09/2014 10:00 am EST
When it comes to Marvel, the next big “event” book is always looming just around the corner. This week, the publisher revealed that it won’t be long before the Marvel Universe once again faces a monumental catastrophe. Honestly, with Infinity reaching its conclusion over a month ago, Marvel almost seemed to show a little restraint this time.
If there’s anything Marvel does a little too often these days, it’s release sprawling “event” titles and kill characters. Original Sin, an eight-part miniseries written by Jason Aaron (Wolverine and the X-Men) with art by Mike Deodato (every Avengers title of the last six years), does both right out of the gate, as a death sets the “epic” story into motion. And Marvel is making no secret of the victim in this title—everyone’s favorite bald, lunar-dwelling creeper, Uatu the Watcher.
Much like Age of Ultron was first alluded to in 2011’s Avengers #12.1, Original Sin was teased in a comic released over a year ago (Marvel Point One, released way back in November of 2011, for those keeping track). In that comic, two shadowy figures entered the Watcher’s citadel and observed him during a fugue state, which Uatu enters for 42 minutes every three years. They left unseen before the Watcher awoke, confident that they had discovered the means by which to kill him.
Yes, comic deaths are a dime a dozen. The more of them you get, the cheaper they feel and the less poignant they become (much like the depreciation of the term “event comic”). What makes this death a little different than your garden variety comic death is not so much who the character is as it is what he represents.
The heroes of the Marvel Universe have been relentlessly (and dangerously) tampering with the fabric of the universe lately. Whether it’s the Illuminati dealing with universal incursions over in New Avengers or characters time traveling in virtually every title other than New Avengers, Earth-616 has been garnering a lot of cosmic attention lately.
Why does this matter to Original Sin? Because someone observing the Marvel Universe has his work cut out for him at the moment (just ask any Marvel-heavy reader). And even the most ardent Marvelphile only knows a fraction of that universe as well as Uatu, the guy whose one and only job is to watch everything (yes, Uatu has probably even seen how Daredevil: The Target ended, which is more than any of us can say). Uatu, like his brethren, is tasked with watching over the universe and not interfering.
Despite that whole “non-interference” clause in his Watcher contract, Uatu tends to butt in occasionally when disaster is imminent (his mere presence is usually enough to clue in the heroes that something bad is about to happen). So why kill the Watcher, anyway? The same reason you’d want to get rid of anyone looking over your shoulder—you’re about to do something you don’t want him to see. The greater implication of the Watcher’s death is that something truly awful is about to unfold in the Marvel Universe.
In a press release, Aaron described the series as “a crime story. A murder mystery. A manhunt. But with the entirety of the Marvel Universe as its backdrop.” Using a major death to instigate a storyline rather than provide a climax for it is certainly an unusual tactic in modern comics, and it suggests that, perhaps, this is a different sort of comic death. I can’t imagine the blurb “The Death of Uatu!” being particularly attractive to the civilians out there in the way that “The Death of Spider-Man!” might be. This gives me hope that this is one death that isn’t just a cheap ploy or cash grab. It certainly feels like something Marvel could pull an interesting yarn out of. We’ll see if they succeed this April, when Original Sin debuts.
Brian L. Martin is an educator, writer, and amateur curmudgeon. An avid fan of novels, movies, and beer, he would much rather spend his time reading comics, a lifelong love since receiving a copy of The Amazing Spider-Man # 242 from Spider-Man himself in 1983. His favorite books include The Grapes of Wrath, Siddhartha, and The Complete Calvin and Hobbes, which is heavy enough to be considered the only real defense weapon he has in his home. He currently lives with his wife in Uppsala, Sweden.