In the Marvel Universe, people die every day. Sadly it’s a fact of life, and part of the job if you’re a superhero or supervillain. But when the alien observer known as the Watcher is struck down on his remote lunar base, his death opens the door to a lifetime of secrets he has accumulated that stretches back in time and into the secret lives of every person on Earth. With Uatu’s treasure trove of secrets and tech absconded and his body left cold on the floor of his Moon headquarters, the retired spy who’s privy to a host of secrets, Nick Fury, is back in action to find out who did it, how they did it, and why. Fury enlists a who’s who of Marvel stalwarts to help solve the mystery and find the killer, but finding the person (or persons) with the motive and the means won’t be easy.
Teased in late 2013 with a retailer card depicting the chalk outline of Uatu the Watcher symbolizing his death, Original Sin fully came into lightlast week as an eight-issue biweekly series by Jason Aaron and Mike Deodato scheduled to launch this May. Both Aaron and Deodato have done big stories before, but Original Sin will be the first proper “event” series for both parties and it’s a story that plays directly to their strengths. The seeds for this story began way back in 2011’s Point One one-shot in a story by Ed Brubaker and Javier Pulido. In that story, a pair of anonymous figures in space suits were seen sneaking into Uatu’s abode to get a glimpse of the futures the bald alien can see. The duo came and went without being noticed by the Watcher, but in the final panels one of the individuals named a being (or beings) called “the Unseen” who was preparing to kill the Watcher for “his secrets…” And now with that promised death coming true nearly three years later as the launching pad for this new event, Newsarama spoke with Aaron and Deodato about this far-ranging drama that promises a cosmic scale but with personal impact for the heroes involved.
Newsarama: Jason, Mike, what can you tell us about Original Sin?
Jason Aaron: It’s one of those stories that I can’t say too much about. The main part of Original Sin is that it’s a murder mystery.
Mike Deodato: The Watcher is murdered – how's that, for starters? – and there is an investigation to track and catch the murderer and to locate the weapons he stole from Uatu’s sanctuary: the most lethal weapons ever built.
Aaron: … and more importantly, his secrets have been stolen. The Watcher has been observing Earth and the Marvel Universe on high for many, many years, so he’s been witness to all of the greatest secrets of the Marvel Universe and its heroes. Now that he’s dead, all of those secrets are loose. Someone has gotten a hold of them, and it launches a huge manhunt to find the killer and reign in the secrets before it’s too late.
Deodato: Understand that this is going to be a unique event in Marvel Universe, very different from all the others done so far. It is broad and will have consequences in the whole world of Marvel super-heroes – as usual – but it is specific and claustrophobic at the same time.
Nrama: The teaser image lays it out for us – literally – with a chalk outline of the Watcher, symbolizing his death and an apparent mystery. How big is this story in comparison to previous Marvel stories you’ve done, Jason?
Aaron: It’s huge in terms of casting, setting, and the ramifications it’ll have for the Marvel Universe. I’m getting to play with the whole Marvel Universe in this story; we’ll see the usual big players from Marvel events such as the main Avengers, but beyond that we’ll also focus on characters you don’t normally find in big events: Black Panther, Ant-Man, Gamora, Moon Knight and Emma Frost. It’s a huge cast, and the story takes advantage of all the trappings of the Marvel Universe. It references and connects to a lot of different characters and corners of Marvel, and takes us to a lot of different places. In that sense, it’s an epic, grand story.
But in some sense, it’s also a smaller, more personal story than other events. It has a very specific spine and backbone to the story. There are a small group of characters who are affected in huge ways by the story. It’s a gritty murder story, but played out on a grand stage.
Nrama: Excited to hear you mention Black Panther after your brief run on his title several years ago, but another hero I wanted to ask about is Spider-Man. You wrote him briefly in Astonishing Spider-Man & Wolverine and seem to have a real knack for him; any chance he’ll play a role here?
Aaron: Thank you. Spider-Man will be around, but he’s not playing a major role in the main book. I think you’ll see Spider-Man’s own story play out in the Original Sin tie-ins.
The tie-ins for this event will be different; they’re not just fleshing out fight scenes from the main book, but will be kind of their own story. The tie-ins to the individual titles will deal with these secrets that emerge and the effect on those characters individually.
Nrama: Uatu’s a strange individual, even in comparison to our standard superheroes. Mike, what’s it like drawing someone so strange and big next to the relatively normal sized human characters?
Deodato: I guess I’m no stranger to strangeness. Working with such authors as Warren Ellis in Thunderbolts and Thor; Harlan Ellison in "Catman" in his anthology, and Brian Pulido in Lady Death made me used to working with weird material. Also, I grew up reading Heavy Metal and the Warren books. So, I think drawing weird, strange stuff tends to bring out the best in me.
Nrama: I’m excited to hear that the original Nick Fury is taking point on this, acting as a sort of Marvel version of a homicide detective in this case. Jason, last time you wrote him was, I believe, PunisherMAX – so what’s it like using him here, and putting him in this role as an old-school homicide detective but on a cosmic scale?
Aaron: I had forgotten I used him in PunisherMAX, but I’m kind of using him in the same way. I wanted Fury to be the point man for the manhunt, investigating leads and uncovering what happened. I didn’t want it to be Cap or one of the main superheroes.
I like the idea of re-casting Nick Fury as a grizzled old homicide detective and pulling him back into the center of things in the midst of this crazy story. He fits with the story I wanted to tell, that being an action-driven story. I love the old Jim Steranko Nick Fury stories. This is a fast-paced manhunt / spy story / homicide investigation.
Nrama: In the USA Today piece you specifically chimed in on the camaraderie the Punisher and Doctor Strange have – can you elaborate on that?
Aaron: As the investigation unfolds, the heroes spread out to track down leads. So in that you’ll see interesting team-ups, including Doctor Strange and the Punisher. That has been a lot of fun to write.
I’m not taking the Punisher and making him a supernatural character, nor am I making Strange a street-level vigilante; It’s the two of them just as they are. I love the straight-forward Garth Ennis version of the Punisher, which has become the Matt Fraction, Rick Remender, Greg Rucka versions since. That’s the guy we see teaming up with Doctor Strange. I love Frank Castle’s perspective on this; Frank Castle in the midst of a murder investigation that involves going off to the moon and the far corners of the Marvel Universe, investigating strange happenings and creatures. It’s fun to watch him and how he responds to that.
Nrama: Let’s back up a second – killing a Watcher is no small feat. According to my handy Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, Uatu’s powers are comparable to Galactus. How can someone kill a Watcher – can you say anything at all?
Aaron: No, not really. We get a glimpse of the murder in issue one, but overall the method is part of the mystery as well. Not just who did it, but who is capable of doing it, and why. Those are all teased along the way. Some mysteries are answered, but other mysteries pop up out of those answers.
With this kind of big mystery story, the story isn’t just about the answer but about enjoying yourself along the way. This isn’t Clue or a “Whodunnit?;” there will be different suspects and red herrings as seen in other murder mysteries, but beyond that there’s a bigger story being told. Once we get to the end and all the secrets are out, readers will really know what’s happening and the effects of the story to the Marvel Universe itself.
Nrama: Does this tie into “The Unseen”story Ed Brubaker did a few years back in Marvel Point One?
Aaron: Yes. Original Sin is one of those ideas that has been circulating for several years at the Marvel retreats we have a couple times a year. We have all these ideas floating around for a bit before we figure out how to align them. Original Sin is something that’s been in the works for awhile; it was just a matter of picking the right spot. It’ll fit in great here, and is much different than the last few events.
Nrama: Does this tie in with any of the other books you’re doing at Marvel currently such as Thor: God of Thunder and Amazing X-Men?
Aaron: Yes, most likely there’ll be tie-ins. Certainly Thor will be a big part of the main Original Sin series, and we’ll also see some X-Men popping up as well.
Nrama: Working with you on this is Mike Deodato. When I talked to Mike earlier this week he said he’s been working on this for a while now, so what’s it like having him illustrate this story for you?
Aaron: It’s great to watch Mike get to cut loose. It seems like his career has been building towards this for a while. It’s the first time he or I are getting to do our own Marvel event. He’s pretty excited to get to step up to the plate; it has every character you could possibly want to draw at Marvel, all in one story. Story-wise it fits perfectly to Mike’s strengths. His sense of character design, and the opportunity to design all sorts of locations in the Marvel Universe.
Mike’s a guy who can pull off a crime story, a superhero story, and a sci-fi story, all of which Original Sin is.
Nrama: Superheroes plus mystery, murder, noir and strangeness– sounds like the perfect book for you, Mike. How’d you go about determine your approach for drawing Original Sin?
Deodato: After I read the first script for Original Sin I realized how noir-ish it was, almost in a poetic way, so I decided to hearken back to the way Steranko might have done it, to a degree. I was inspired by his work on Red Tide and Outland. What's more, Frank Martin is coloring this book and, like me, he is very excited about it because, also like me, it is his first time working on a big event. He suggested that I use the same style I did in a Tigra mini-series years ago, where there were no contour lines around the characters. I've continued to grow and change as an artist, though – so instead of moving backward, I'm moving forward, incorporating some of that, some of that Steranko inspiration, and other things. I think you'll like a lot what I've come up with. Lots of "WOW!" factor.