Before event comics, 'Zero Issues' are sometimes necessary to bring new readers up to speed on the characters involved in the story to come. When it's done poorly, it looks like a cheap marketing ploy. When it's done well... you start feeling something for characters you've known about for ages but never cared about before. Such is the case with Original Sin #0. It's grand. Spoilers follow.
I'll admit— I underestimated this comic before I opened it. I looked at the question on the cover and thought, "I know who the Watcher is. I've seen him around for decades. He watches things. A lot. He never interferes (except when he does)." I'm really, really glad I decided to pick it up anyway.
The newest Nova, Sam Alexander, introduces himself in such a way that immediately ingratiated him to me. Aside from his powers and the legacy of being a Nova, Sam's just a kid, trying to connect with his absent dad. This hit me square in the feels.
We've got a POV character with a clear moral code, demonstrated in a fight with an Aztec God that is equal parts action-packed... and kinda goofy. It's great. Debriefing with the Avengers, Nova mentions the times he's run into the Watcher. It feels pretty organic how he comes up in the conversation, which leads to Nova deciding to visit Uatu on the moon.
Since he's dropping by unannounced, he brings a gift— possibly the first time anyone's ever given Uatu anything, other than a headache.
Here's where things get nuanced: Uatu generally isn't very talkative. It's part of his vow: he won't do or say anything that could impact the events he's supposed to be objectively observing. So... how do you reveal anything of interest about a character when he refuses to talk? Mark Waid found the way. Show us his home.
Uatu's citadel on the moon is functional, but there are no personal touches. Nova even remarks on this, to himself. (Another reason his gift is especially poignant.) He stumbles into Uatu's Armory, an arsenal of cosmic-level weapons. Exhibit A: The Ultimate Nullifier.
It's the first hint that Uatu's on the side of the angels: he cares enough to make sure that dangerous weapons aren't left where just anyone could find them. If he were truly objective, he'd leave these WMDs where they were dropped, or lost. Instead, he's keeping them safe and out of the wrong hands.
It's a valuable point, but not enough to form a full picture. We need more data to form that beautiful line, and the Watcher doesn't disappoint. Rather than tell, he shows.
Once upon a time, Uatu's people used their omnipotence to raise up lower species, giving gifts of technology, power, and resources to change their way of living— hopefully for the better.
Their first benevolent experiment is with a species called the Prosilicans. Sure enough, they dazzle them with their gifts, saving countless lives, ending hunger, so on. The Watchers leave, wishing the Prosilicans well. It ends in disaster.
Given all that power, the Prosilicans end up waging war on each other. When the Watchers come back, they're all dead. Every last one. Uatu's father, Ikor, is crushed. They both are.
And suddenly, in the span of four pages, we learn everything we need to know to not only understand Uatu, but to care about him. Yes, this origin's been presented before. But it's recapped here in such a way that makes the Watcher more real, somehow. More relatable.
Bad times are coming for Uatu. Seeing that he's not quite so invincible or omniscient makes him easier to connect with. Now that is how you make readers care.
The story is punctuated with a moment of hope (specifically for Nova), before we close on a reminder of past destruction. Woof, that's a lot to absorb.
All things considered, it's a grand comic. Mark Waid's scripting is well-paced, with enough action and fantastic elements to keep it light, while preparing us for the sucker-punch that is Uatu's backstory. Jim Cheung and Paco Medina's pencils look great, especially matched w/ Justin Ponsor's vibrant colors. It's a comic book, and it's fun to look at. Mission accomplished, folks.
If you're going to read Original Sin, start here. You're not gonna regret it. I know I won't.
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