Snarky Synopsis: “Original Sin” #0
Original Sin #0. Written by Mark Waid. Art by Jim Cheung, Paco Medina, Mark Morales, Guillermo Ortego, Dave Meikis, Juan Vlasco, and Justin Ponsor.
It’s that time again. No, not when the swallows return from Capistrano. No, not when Dan DiDio polishes his head in the Shine-O-Ball-O. It’s epic-crossover time, kiddos! Marvelous Mark Waid puts his pen to paper for Original Sin #0, a cosmic odyssey that focuses on the supreme perv of the 616, The Watcher. Ole’ Uatu is destined for a possible dirt nap, and let’s just assume a ton of fallout will occur. But I’m getting ahead of myself. You’d clearly have known that… had you been an all powerful, big headed, poorly dressed voyeur. But you’re not, so you’re likely wanting to know how the prequel – such as it were – fares. If I were to bestow upon you a fair and just warning that a major cosmic event is about to occur? You’d be long dead before it comes up concerning this review.
Issue 0 of Original Sin anchors itself with the newest Nova of Earth, Sam Alexander. Waid is quick to establish his voice – cosmic Peter Parker. Simply put, it’s impossible to read through the issue and not be reminded by Marvel’s everyman. As Sam quips, zaps, and stumbles his way through the issue, every smirk that crept to my mouth was adjoined by the feeling I’d been there before. The plot, as it were, is as straight-forward as you might get. Nova, in between telling himself his life story (assuming he doesn’t know he’s a comic character), comes to a great and grand universal mystery: Why does the Watcher watch? This is opposed to Who Watches the Watchmen, which everyone knows already. So, with the innocence of a child, Sammy takes to the moon to ask Uatu if he watches Dateline: To Catch A Predator.
Mark Waid is of course a very smart writer. Without breaking character, he’s able to let the Watcher communicate with his young friend (assuming they are totally BFFs because Nova comes to the Uatu-moonbase bearing housewarming gifts). Through windows to other realities and times, Sam learns the secret origin of one of Marvel’s kookiest characters. In short? Uatu comes from a race of super powerful beings that chose to help humanity – eons ago. It didn’t end well. Now, the Watcher relegates himself to couch-potatoing his way through life, all in a sad effort to prove to himself that his dad wasn’t a fool. I know I hurl that spoiler with little to no snark… an affirmation that even when Waid isn’t perfect, he’s still potent.
The script, as it were, is perfectly safe. Nothing more. Nothing less. It’s maddening, in a “meh” sorta way, just how banal the book reads. While Waid is quick to create a theme of fathers and sons, and pepper the plot with plenty of witty barbs from his teen narrator… the issue maintains that “Issue 0” sense of money-grab more than worthwhile endeavor. No stakes are raised. No bullets are fired. Simply put, the issue is pure filler, and fill-in – I assume – for those not knowledgeable on Nova or Uatu. For that purpose alone? Sure, the book does what it needs to. But I can’t help but read into it, and feel like Mr. Waid phoned it all in. Why? Because Geoff Johns, that’s why.
Allow me this quick digression. Geoff Johns ruined the one-shot for modern comics. His Captain Cold bio-comic back in the Wally West Flash series he penned was a perfectly pitched introduction to a less then memorable character (save perhaps for a noteworthy costume). In less than twenty some-odd pages, he told us more about Leonard Snart than volumes of issues before it had. And by giving us shades of grey to what we’d considered was a fairly black and white character up to that point? We left the issue – one where the stakes were as low as Original Sin #0 was – having felt that we’d witnessed a real movement. The best Mark Waid can muster was a lone statement delivered to young Sam. And while the moment itself was earned… it’s nearly too little, too late. Suffice to say, once the destination is arrived at? I left feeling like there were better ways to have taken the journey. And that’s enough for me to shake my head, in that fatherly way that says “I’m not mad. I’m just disappointed.”
Artistically speaking, the veritable army that turns in the doodles for the issue turn in art that does it’s job. Nothing stands out as spectacular. Nothing feels rushed either. The fact that it took more than three inkers, two pencilers, and a colorist to complete the issue is staggering. That being said? There’s plenty to oogle and ogle at throughout. Various splash pages detail brilliant kinetic action, or powerful historical tableaus. Sam himself is drawn perfectly petite, and the highly detailed world around him adds to his shorter stature. Uatu is treated as he should be – as a Kirby penned galactic stalwart. He’s stoic, unemotional, and bathed in blacks when need-be. There’s little left to be said concerning the visuals. They are slick, modern, and indicative of a team all working towards a “house style” that showcases splashy imagery to help cement the epic nature of the crossover.
At the end of the day, it’s hard to recommend Original Sin #0. Mark Waid has penned some brilliant, fun, and epic Marvel tales in the past. Here, yoked to a story that is all setup and no trigger, we get fodder for the eventual trade and nothing more. The artwork is pretty. But aside from a little back-story, and a touching moment or two… this is lazy crossover crap at it’s most basic. And I know you’re out there, Uatu, watching me as I type this. What can I say? Next time? Maybe you should consider changing the channel.