Marvel has put the crosshairs on Uatu the Watcher and come May 7 when Original Sin #1 debuts, someone is pulling the trigger. Much has been said about the motives and identity of the mystery assassins behind the promised death, but another question worth asking is this: Who is the Watcher, really? On April 16, Mark Waid and Jim Cheung are going to find out.
In the one-shot prologue Original Sin #0, the two document the final days of Uatu on his home base on the moon – and find an unlikely guest, the young Nova, this obvious question. The Watcher has been a staple of major events in the Marvel Universe going all the way back to his debut in 1963’s Fantastic Four #13; bound by a vow of non-interference shared by all of his race, the Watcher merely observes. So why does his death mean so much?
“[The Watcher is] the perfect Greek Chorus to the Marvel Universe,” says Waid, a longtime comics writer with an encyclopedic knowledge of Marvel’s past. “He’s also the unwitting harbinger of doom, because when the Watcher shows up, you know it's about to get ugly. He'll be missed.”
In this 40 page one-shot special, Waid says that he and Cheung will be adding context to Uatu’s history and origin, and doing it through the eyes of one of Marvel’s newest heroes: Sam Alexander, Nova.
“Everything in Uatu's brain and history is a secret. He's not a chatty guy,” Waid points out. But he does have one big secret, and it's something Nova inadvertently stumbles onto. As far as Tom Brevoort and I can tell, Nova blunders across a query that no one in the Marvel Universe has ever thought to ask aloud, and it unlocks the entire story.”
Uatu’s crossed paths with the biggest and the greatest in the Marvel U, so the idea of Nova sharing the stage with the Watcher at the precipice of his death might seem odd. But according to wait, he’s perfect.
“Nova is the perfect eyes-of-the-reader character,” the writer shares. “The whole project came up during the Original Sin writer's retreat. When I found out the Watcher's fate, I campaigned for a one-shot that explained to newer readers who the Watcher is and why his death matters (I didn't have to campaign hard), but it was Brevoort's suggestion to use Nova, cueing off the scenes in Nova's own series that have established a subtle bond between them.”
Speaking of bonds, the pairing of Waid with artist Jim Cheung to create this one-shot issue is big news, but not their first. Cheung drew a portion of Waid’s landmark run on DC’s Flash series over a decade prior, but Original Sin #0 is on a much larger scale – and with years of experience behind both of them.
“I loved Jim's work back during the Flash days. It was terrific. No complaints,” Waid gushes. “But, holy cow, the Jim Cheung of 2014 makes that guy's art look like cave paintings. What a joy to see someone who was already good just get better and better!”
Together, they’re tell what seems to be the final story of Uatu the Watcher. And despite being ringside for virtually all of Marvel’s major events, a story centered on Uatu himself has been few and far between. When asked what it’s like to draft a definitive and final story for the Watcher, Waid ranks it among his proudest achievements.
“Honestly? Once I had the hook, it was both easy and fun,” the writer says. “Once I had the Watcher's line of dialogue - he has only one in the entire thirty-page story - everything coalesced beautifully, and this may be one of the best things I've ever written.”