(Marvel Comics, 2014)
Written by Nathan Edmondson
Artwork by Mike Perkins
Color Artwork by Andy Troy
Lettering by VC’s Clayton Cowles
Original Sins is a 5 issue tie-in to the main series that brings to light the effects of The Watcher’s newly exposed secrets on those Marvel characters a little further from the limelight; for instance this issue features the newest incarnation of Deathlok, the Young Avengers and a wonderfully quirky albeit brief interlude with Lockjaw of Inhumans fame. Clearly these are characters that would have a tough time carrying an entire issue devoted solely to their adventures dealing with the fallout of the events taking place in the Original Sin main series. In the case of the more marquee characters and teams like The Avengers, Invaders and even Deadpool, they will be given their own Original Sin tie-in issues. This is one of Marvels more unorthodox approaches to an event but after the lukewarm reception that Age of Ultron received by many readers I suppose a few changes are justifiable.
In a time of ever escalating comic book cover prices some readers may wonder just what is mandatory and what is superfluous in reading a major crossover event. In the case of Original Sins I would say use your own discretion; the featured characters are shown on the cover and I believe only the young Avengers arc is continued from issue to issue as a 5 part story, the rest are short one off pieces that are loosely connected to the events of the main series. I personally found nothing mandatory in reading this series as of the first issue, that being said, I did enjoy reading most of the issue, particularly the Deathlok story, however, as is often the case with these types of books, the resulting collection of material by various creators can be uneven and rather jarring as the creative teams change from story to story.
The Deathlok presented here by Nathan Edmonson and Mike Perkins is an introduction to Henry Hayes, the character that will be featured in their upcoming monthly series. Hayes very closely resembles Mike Peterson, the Deathlok character portrayed by J. August Richards on the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D television series; this should come as no big surprise to readers of Marvels’ Avengers titles since the House of Ideas has been drawing its inspiration from both the big and little screens for quite some time now. Take for instance the growing presence of Agent Coulson on the printed page as well as the heavily Samuel Jackson inspired version of Nick Fury that now calls the shots in many Marvel comic books featuring S.H.I.E.L.D infused plots and elements. There is almost no resemblance to the Deathlok that made his debut way back in Astonishing Tales #25 or either of the Deathlok characters currently active in the 616 Marvel Universe for that matter. This is not necessarily a bad thing as there is plenty of room for another Deathlok in the Marvel U, especially one that brings such diversity of character; Hayes calls to mind a Brubaker-style, secret agent full of intrigue and mystery. His appearance is decidedly less shocking which allows him to infiltrate more situations hence making him a far more effective agent. There is a heavy spy vibe at work in this short story predominantly in the exposition that comes via an admiring but rather bumbling S.H.I.E.L.D agent who, while lavishing Hayes with praise and veneration, maladroitly blurts out all he knows about Hayes’ involvement with the Deathlok program. Edmonson cleverly uses this inept character to convey Hayes’ origin in an economical yet somehow still eloquent fashion.
Mike Perkins artwork all but steals the show with his deeply shaded figures striking dramatic poses that speak of high reaching conspiracies. Perkins brings a distinct sense of the espionage thriller to his work that works extremely well with Edmonson’s narrative. These guys are both on board for the upcoming Deathlok on-going series and if this is any indication of the level of perfection we can expect from this creative team I cannot wait for the first issue.
The next story is the first installment of a five part Young Avengers arc. Now I feel I should mention in all fairness that while I do like a great deal of Kieron Gillen’s work, I was not a fan of his celebrated Young Avengers series that recently ended, but since the antagonist of this story is the Grant Morrison created, Exterminatrix, I was more than willing to give it a day in court. Unfortunately the same overly P.C. slanted and cooler than thou cookie cutter hipster characters that turned me away from Gillen’s run are once again taking center stage here; this time it is Ryan North responsible for the cumbersome narrative faltering under the weight of its own ultra-clever burden full of ridiculous dialog and downright annoying characterizations. Ramon Villalobos’ artwork is equally difficult to digest, although there are glimmers of inspiration that appear to come from Mike Allred, Villalobos seems to weigh his imagery down with overly heavy, detail obliterating outlines. Overall this is the low point of the issue; fortunately Lockjaw tips the scales in a positive direction.
Stuart Moore and Rick Geary step in with a silently shrewd and smartly humorous short story that centers on Lockjaw being reunited with a long buried, much loved possession. Geary’s highly stylized, cartoony artwork fits perfectly with Moore’s comedic caper. Guest starring some of the Avengers this light hearted turn ends the issue on a high note, especially after a disappointing second feature.
This issue is certainly uneven but the positives outweigh the negatives in my opinion. The impressive, anticipation building Deathlok story is worth the cover price alone. I wouldn’t deem this mandatory reading, not even in light of the Original Sin event, certainly the majority of the content is superfluous but if you have expendable comic book funds certainly pick it up, however if money is tight, like it is for many of us, this would be a candidate to relegate to the “it can wait” list. My rating does not reflect the individual merits of each story only the issue as a whole, sorry Nathan Edmonson and Mike Perkins. (2.5/5)
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.