This week’s Original Sin #0 is seemingly the last hurrah for Uatu the Watcher before his widely publicized murder in next month’s Original Sin #1, but writer Mark Waid and artist Jim Cheung eschewed somberness for a story of life, family, secrets and wonder. Told through the eyes of one of Marvel’s newest heroes, Nova, Original Sin #0 gave readers a whirlwind tour of the Watcher’s remote lunar base as well as a look at Uatu’s own origin and answers the long-held question of why the Watcher does what he does.
Original Sin #0 is the opening salvo of Marvel’s next line-wide event, and Newsarama spoke with the series editor and Senior Vice President of Publishing Tom Brevoort about how it fits with the bigger Original Sin picture, as well as how it works as a standalone, personal story about the Watcher and Nova. SPOILERS AHEADfor those who haven’t read Original Sin #0 yet; if you haven’t picked it up, we’d advise you to read it first unless you want to be spoiled.
Newsarama: Original Sin #0 is on stand after months of promotion and years of behind-the-scenes planning at various Marvel summits. What’s it like to finally be able to pull the trigger on it?
Tom Brevoort: Certainly it’s good. It’s one of those things where often the ideas that we have need to find their right time and right moment to be actualized. Typically there’s a reason why an idea won’t come to fruition at a certain point, or other ideas race ahead and into print. Part of that for Original Sin was because it didn’t come alive until Jason Aaron stood up and took ownership of it. We had a couple of writers in the past poking around at it a bit, but we never really got the commitment from a writer to take on the story and craft a couple of ideas and put deep thought into the actual story.
Also with the ever-changing landscape and the zeitgeist in the Marvel Universe and the publishing world, this seemed like the right time to do Original Sin. Our previous event, Infinity, was very vast and huge in scope, and Original Sin seemed an ideal next event because it was a lot more personal, inward-looking and character focused. It seemed like a good transition.
It’s nice to get to this point, with Original Sin #0 out in the open. We’ve been talking about it in one way or another for years, between myself, Axel Alonso, Joe Quesada, and a bunch of our core creators. Now feels like the right time; if we’d have done Original Sin sooner it wouldn’t have been the best time.
Nrama: The main story of Original Sin doesn’t begin until next month’s #1 ships, but this week’s Original Sin #0 is a prelude to that. Mark Waid, Jim Cheung and Paco Media have put a face to Uatu, as well as giving it context with Nova. What do you think this zero issue adds to the main Original Sin story Jason Aaron and Mike Deodato Jr. are telling?
Brevoort: The whole purpose of Original Sin #0, much like the zero issue of Avengers vs. X-Men, is to give people information on a main character who they might not be all too familiar with; in this case Uatu the Watcher. For some people, he’s just the dude in a toga who shows up once in a while. Original Sin #0 gives them everything they’d need to know about the character for the main Original Sin story; but on top of that, the real gain was for Mark and Jim to tell an affecting story not just about the Watcher but also Nova, Sam Alexander, and prime the pump in such a way that when Uatu meets his demise in Original Sin #1 there’s a greater chance you’ll feel it. We want it to feel like more than just knocking over an action figure, so to speak.
The Watcher has been around, but it’s been awhile since he had a real spotlight put on him. There may be a whole generation of people who know him, but don’t know his story and his history. This #0 issue gives people all of that essential information so they can go into Original Sin #1 on a nice, equal footing. Hopefully Original Sin #0 is more than just a recounting of past events and an info dump and has some humanity and heart to it. That’s what Mark Waid was striving to achieve; to make you involved and invested in both Sam and Uatu in the course of 30 pages. If that’s the case, hopefully it’ll work well just as a satisfying story unto itself even if you don’t read the main Original Sin series.
Nrama: For this issue, artist Jim Cheung was joined by a surprise guest – artist Paco Medina, according to the credits. This book is over-sized, so was he brought in just to keep the book on schedule?
Brevoort: For all the wonderful work Paco did on Original Sin #0, he only did four pages and they’re scattered through the issue. 98% of the work in it is Jim; even on the pages Paco worked on, the page compositions and layouts are all Jim. It’s Jim’s book. Not to downgrade the work Paco did here under battlefield conditions, but he was there lending a hand.
Sometimes things like this happen. Time got away from us and Jim was in a tight squeeze, so Paco stepped up to help us ship Original Sin #0 on time. If it had shipped after Original Sin #1 it wouldn’t have had the intended effect.
Nrama: Understood – back to the subject at hand here, the use of Nova here was great – he asks those the question experienced heroes wouldn’t think to ask – why is the Watcher watching? Waid said using Nova was your idea – why did he pop up for you?
Brevoort: It was due to a couple of factors, but some of it is serendipity.
In the new Nova book, starting with Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness, we’ve been building up the relationship with Sam – the new young inexperienced Nova – and the mysterious bald guy on the moon who never says anything. So we already had that connection built up, not just by them but also carried over through Zeb Wells and Paco Medina’s run as well as Gerry Duggan’s current work.
Additionally, as Nova Sam is a newcomer to the world of super heroes – so in essence he’s a stand-in for the reader who may not know all the answers. Using him in this position to present the story of Uatu gives it the much-needed context. He is the character that can ask questions, whereas Iron Man, who’s been around the block a few times, would be more difficult to be the one asking those questions in the same way.
The third part of it is just happenstance. Waid wrote the first Sam Alexander story to see print with the AvX Infinite Comic, so he actually had a little bit of experience dealing with the character previously. It was a comfortable fit for him to give the story this grounded perspective, and that was something we were looking for with this story. Once we landed on Nova as the point-of-view character, there really couldn’t have been anyone else because of the aforementioned qualifications and stories he’s been in; Sam’s history made him the perfect candidate to be at the center of Original Sin #0. It wasn’t initially planned that way, but it really came together beautifully with him as the perfect set of eyes to witness this story.
Nrama: And this idea of why the Watcher watches – it seems an obvious question. Was it ever brought up before internally at Marvel to your knowledge?
Brevoort: I don’t know that it’s ever come up to the degree we’re talking about here. Uatu has always been a player in the Marvel Universe, particularly in Fantastic Four where he’s been more prominently features. In other stories the Watcher was really there just to show up and punctuate the fact that something big and important to comics is going on. The Watcher’s never really been a headliner since his back-up stories back in the 1960s, and I think he’s a character a lot of people took for granted as a prop almost; as a thing you do. He’s a character you invoke to make the story seem more important, and not a lot of thought had been given, in this way, to what motivates him. That’s not to say that it’s a slight on anyone involved; everybody has been more focused on what the FF, the Avengers, the X-Men and Spider-Man happen to be doing while the Watcher was showing up.
We’ve seen the Watcher’s origin in the past, but it wasn’t framed in the way it is in Original Sin #0. It really hadn’t been shown in terms of how it impacts on the why of what the Watcher is doing. It’s kind of a nice thing; a hat trick, which gives the 1960s origin story new resonance. For people who don’t know it, it illuminates what’s going on in that big bald head.
Nrama: I didn’t know you could find commonality between a boy from Arizona and a Watcher, but Mark did it by touching on their fathers. Can you talk about that?
Brevoort: It’s definitely the sort of thing Mark does well. He tells superhero stories with color, action, bombast, and so forth, but almost every Mark Waid story I can think of turns on very human emotions and the interactions and feelings between people. That takeaway is what separates an average Mark Waid story from the dozens of other writers from his generation who aren’t on the forefront anymore.
When Mark approached this story, is natural storytelling instinct is to find that human moment; that point of commonality between a human’s point of view and an alien’s point of view. Cracking that in turn cracked the whole story. Mark was excited when he found it; I remember him calling me and asking to spell it out for me, and he had the whole ball of wax.
It’s easy to do pyrotechnics, explosions and shock value stuff where you feed a character into the proverbial wood chipper, but it’s much more difficult and takes a greater application of skill to be able to feel and be involved and emote characters like this. Mark does that here, and in Daredevil, and in Hulk, and whatever else he writes.
Nrama: For Nova, Original Sin #0 culminated with the knowledge that his missing father is in fact alive. Will that be followed up on in the Nova series?
Brevoort: Yes, it will. Nova #18 and #19 are tie-in issues to Original Sin and this revelation from Uatu is going to play a big role in Sam’s future. In addition to being a nice primer and set-up for Original Sin, this zero issue is also an important turning point moment for Nova that will impact his ongoing adventures.
Nrama: Getting back to the man of the hour here; he’s fated to die in Original Sin #1. Since we see others of his race such as his father, Ikor, in flashback sequences in this zero issue, could we perhaps see them with a role in Original Sin itself?
Brevoort: I don’t want to give too much away, especially this early in the game. Is it possible? Sure, it’s possible. At this point, everything is possible. We haven’t revealed our first issue and disclosed the super-structure of the story, so it remains to be seen. I don’t want to say anything too spoiler-y.
Nrama: OK, let me ask something lighter – Tomazooma. Mark and Jim threw me for a loop when he popped up, straight from those classic Fantastic Four stories by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee. Any special reason why Tomazooma was invoked here?
Brevoort: I think it was just a matter of Mark looking for a fairly simply, straight-forward kind of threat of a certain scale that Nova could displace. Mark remembers the same stories you do. Mark might have more of a story in this case, but I don’t really know anything further.
Nrama: Coming back around to some potentially spoiler-y areas; Uatu’s armory. The scene where Nova walks into the Watcher’s armory reminds me of the recent ransacking of the Fridge on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but Uatu’s collection dwarfs S.H.I.E.L.D.’s by far. The Ultimate Nullifier is front and center, but those other weapons – am I missing something or are those important too?
Brevoort: Some of them are, but not all of them – there are more that are not. But there’s one or two Easter eggs there.
The fact that the Watcher’s got a closet full of weapons and exotic technology is a plot element that carries into the main Original Sin story. More is going on that just the murder of the Watcher; his domicile is ransacked and his technology, such as what’s seen here, is stolen. That armory is essential to Original Sin #1 and the story going forward.
Nrama: Last question then, Tom – what do you hope people gain by the time they finish Original Sin #0 and look ahead to Original Sin #1?
Brevoort: Hopefully page 30 of #0 is going to make you feel more when the Watcher gets capped in #1. We hope you feel bad, but we want you to feel bad when anything happens to our characters, including the Watcher. For all that Original Sin #0 does to play on a galactic, cosmic scale, it’s a very personal story about fathers and sons, and so too is the whole of the Original Sin event. It will tell a story that covers the width and breadth of the entire Marvel Universe, from alien worlds and crazy other dimensions to back on Earth. But it’s also very much a personal story; several personal stories, when considering the tie-ins and the characters involved there.
Original Sin is a very different event from the kinds of stories we’ve done in the past; that’s one of the reasons doing it now made sense; to stand in contrast to Infinity, Avengers Vs. X-Men, Age of Ultron and X-Men: Battle of the Atom. It has a very different feel, flavor and focus, and hopefully it will surprise people on several levels.