(Marvel Comics, 2014)
Written by Mark Waid
Pencils by Jim Cheung & Paco Medina
Inks by Mark Morales w/ Guillermo Ortego, Dave Meikis,
Juan Vlasco & Jim Cheung
Color Artwork by Justin Ponsor
Uatu, aka The Watcher, has been used by many writers in many and varied ways, usually as a plot device to add gravity to an event in the Marvel Universe. The tone set by the appearance of The Watcher greatly depends on the writer; for instance, Matt Fraction employed a rather large dose of humor in his FF story featuring the voyeuristic giant, even delving into the intimately personal areas of Uatu’s life with his companion. Mark Waid, on the other hand, utilizes a much more traditional approach in his prelude to this year’s major event, Original Sin written by Jason Aaron, which deals with a vastly darker plot built around Uatu’s murder.
In this prefatory issue, Waid does an extremely impressive job of using young Nova Corps member Sam Alexander as the voice of the narrative. Alexander is not quite the brash, wise cracking young upstart that so many teenaged characters are reduced down to, although he is full of personality and youthful impetuousness, he has a certain respectful quality that endears him in much the same way that Luke Skywalker is endearing. There is an underlying chivalrous nature, clarity of heart and inherent goodness to Sam Alexander that strengthens his resolve and his character. That innate goodness comes through in one particular scene where Sam offers Uatu a gift simply because that is what he believes a good guest should do, he is the consummate nice guy and as such we want to see him succeed. Sam seeks The Watcher’s answer to questions he has of the validity of his father’s tales of adventure in the Nova Corps, so he drops by for an unannounced visit. This kind of naiveté defines Sam’s actions many times, enhancing his likable demeanor. Waid seamlessly builds on the fantastic character development that Nova scribe Gerry Duggan has done on the regular series; both writers share a meticulously detailed approach to crafting authentic voices for their characters. This is particularly evident in this issue which has a significant amount of narration; Waid is never tedious or long-winded when writing Sam’s narration instead he imbues the young man with a sharp wit and a charmingly self-deprecating sense of humor which make these scenes all the more entertaining.
The Watcher is presented in his apathetic, resigned, traditional manner for the most part; however Waid adds some really inventive and original touches that bring out a dimension of heart that is unique to this portrayal of the character. There is one extremely poignant moment shared between Uatu and Sam that is one of the highlights of this issue. Waid very cleverly depicts Uatu as stoic and silent for all but this one very dramatic panel and it works so well.
The decision to use Sam as the voice of this issue is very effective specifically because he is such a relatable and likable character. He creates an extremely accessible entry into an event that is sure to become much more complex in composition and darker in tone. Mark Waid writes an introductory story that is enjoyable and action packed, full of humor and excitement, he even pulls a combatant for Sam from the pages of Marvel’s storied past in the person of Tomazooma who steps into the role of punching bag; the narrative is fast paced and really entertaining. It does exactly what it was created to do, get you excited for the first issue of Original Sin.
Jim Cheung and Paco Medina share penciling duties, both artists turn in some impressive pages, however the plethora of inkers that worked on the book actually end up giving a sense of cohesion to the book that may have otherwise have been somewhat jarring. Cheung and Medina are two of the top super hero artists working today and they deliver some jaw dropping, eye popping splash pages in this one that accentuate the cinematic storytelling with epic visuals. The character designs are spot on particularly when featuring some of the most iconic of Marvel’s characters. This is a successful collaboration all the way around; the fact that multiple artists worked on this book only enhances the final product and that is not always the case.
Overall I love this book and I am fully onboard for the Original Sin event to start in full swing. Mark Waid does his usual fantastic job of writing a captivating and dynamic narrative while Cheung and Medina both hit artistic homeruns. I whole-heartedly recommend picking this one up with your weekly picks and jumping on for what is looking more and more like the event of the summer. (4.5/5)
Shawn is an aspiring writer/ artist who has been reading, collecting and living comic books for over 30 years. He lives in Baltimore with his wife, their son, lots of cats, dogs and other various finned and furry friends.