Original Sin is billed by Marvel as a murder mystery on a grand scale, and this week’s first issue played that to a tee – Marvel’s biggest characters along with some cult favorites, all working to discover who was capable – and is culpable – of killing the enigmatic Watcher and making off his with treasure, his armory, his knowledge, and his bloody eyes.
SPOILERS From Here On Out for Original Sin #1!
Newsarama is on the scene, so to speak, covering this ongoing murder investigation and its effects in a regular series we’re calling Original Sin Insider. For this week’s inaugural episode, we talk to series editor and Senior VP of Publishing at Marvel, Tom Brevoort. Brevoort has shepherded Marvel’s heroes through most every major event in the past ten years, and was part of the conversation from Original Sin’s inception all the way through its production and printing. In a phone interview conducted late Wednesday afternoon, Brevoort talked about potential suspects, the glowing green material that may or may not be Kryptonite, and characters who come into play – and come into contrast – after the Watcher is found dead on his alien base on the Moon.
We also have the exclusive cover reveal of Original Sins #3, with stories by Charles Soule, Ryan North & Dan Slott, and art by Ramon Villalobos, Mark Bagley & More. The cover was shown at C2E2 and is now available to the public for the first time right here!
Newsarama: Much occurred in Original Sin #1, but let’s start at the end and that haunting look of someone holding a giant bloody eye in their hand. How did the idea for Original Sin pivot to be on the possession of a person’s bloody eyes?
Tom Brevoort: That kind of came along later. Original Sin all begins with the idea that our assorted heroes and characters would have to face secrets and skeletons in their closets; things from their past, or from the pasts of people in their immediate circle, that create a profound change and put them into difficult positions when they came to light. The first question that naturally led us to was that if all these things are so secret and spread amongst disparate characters with their own lives and live in vastly different places, who would possibly have access to all of this information? That led us to the Watcher, who has seen everything and recorded everything.
Once we had the Watcher in mind, that led us to figuring out where he would have it. It’s not like Uatu kept a journal or anything, so how do you access it? That led us to the idea that since the Watcher has seen everything and his physiology as a cosmic being is so profoundly different than our own, maybe some way to get to see all the things he’s seen is through his eyes. It’s a fairly simple sort of idea, and it harkens back to the idea of a mystic “third eye” and that kind of thing.
Nrama: Were there any conversations internally at Marvel debating about centering a Marvel event on bloody eyes ripped from a dead body? I’m not criticizing, but curious about it being literally a fresh body part as the crux of the story.
Brevoort: Not to the extent that we didn’t do it, obviously. We manufactured bouncing rubber eyeballs! [laughs]
It’s certainly a potentially gruesome image, but it’s also kind of abstract as well. The Watcher wasn’t a human being like you or I; his eyes are much larger, as well.
One of the things we did fail to take into account was that typically when we see the Watcher, he has no pupils; but for these eyes we added pupils as artistic license, so the eyes don’t look like simple white spheres.
Nrama: Explaining that sounds like a No Prize waiting to happen.
Brevoort: There’s nothing to say it can’t, but we don’t know the precise anatomy of a Watcher. He’s a cosmic being and has been around for eons. But definitely there’s a bit of artistic license on our part.
Nrama: Getting back on track, let’s talk about the two individuals in possession of those eyes at the end of Original Sin #1: two shadowy individuals that have some revealing features but not enough to immediately identify who they are. Are these the Unseen that was mentioned previously in this issue and in the 2012 Marvel Point One #1 story?
Brevoort: This is a big murder mystery; I’m hardly going to confirm things like that until it shows up in the comic. It’s a completely fair question, but I’m not going to tell people that their guesses or suppositions about those two characters are right or wrong.
Nrama: My next question might yield the same answer, but regardless I must ask; there’s some visual cues as to their identity that leaves many fans with a list of potential suspects on who they might be. Can you give us any additional clues as to these two individuals?
Brevoort: The only clue I want to give is what’s on that page and in that one panel. There’s probably enough information there that given the length and breadth of the typical Marvel audience someone will be able to work these things out. In a forum, on a blog, in a Tumblr, people are no doubt concocting theories right now that may, or may not, be correct.
Nrama: Point taken. Moving on to their seeming footsoldiers, the Mindless Ones. A Mindless One showed up early on in a rage, that seemingly is from gaining a mind of his own after being in proximity with one of these all-seeing eyes. Even if you can’t talk about the Mindless Ones in specifics to this story, can you talk about that great Steve Ditko design and how they figure into the Original Sin story?
Brevoort: We’ll see more of them in issues to come; we’re not done with the Mindless Ones.
The Mindless Ones are cool for a couple of reasons. Certainly one of those is that they’re immediately recognizable with the Ditko design you mentioned, and they’ve also been around for decades. Another thing is that they’re not from around here, so to speak. They exist in Dormammu’s Dark Dimension, and are held back from overrunning our dimension by mystical barriers. So you’re not typically used to seeing the Mindless Ones rampaging around Manhattan as you do in Original Sin #1.
In conjunction with the Watcher, the appearance of the Mindless Ones helps to underline the broad scope and scale of what’s going on here. This story is genuinely about something larger than just a simple shooting. This isn’t a drive-by; this is an event of a galactic and interdimensional scale. It’s a Marvel Universe murder mystery, and the number of suspects and their shoe sizes are a lot greater than most any other murder investigation out there.
Nrama: And the Watcher’s murdered body is first discovered by a group of heroes led by Captain America, and right away he asks the retired Nick Fury to lead the investigation – not S.H.I.E.L.D., not S.W.O.R.D., not any other active hero. What does Fury have that others don’t in Cap’s eyes?
Brevoort: Well, it certainly helped that Nick was right there. And also Fury’s no longer running S.H.I.E.L.D. and has functioned as an agent of nothing, so to speak, for the past couple years. And he’s the closest thing the Avengers have to someone who is used to operating in the mold of ‘murder police’ as Cap puts it; he’s been in this position to investigate a high-profile killing before. Also, because he’s an agent of nothing he’s not connected to any particular group or bureaucracy that might cause complications. Bringing in S.H.I.E.L.D., for example, brings in all the questions of what S.H.I.E.L.D. is, who they report to, their trustworthy-ness, and the question of if they should have this kind of thing.
And for Cap, his relationship with Fury goes all the way back to World War 2 where they fought side-by-side in the trenches. It was fortuitous for Cap that Nick was on the scene, and he as the best man for the job.
But that’s not to say he was the only choice ap. If Nick wouldn’t have been there, Cap might have not called on him and rather handled it himself with Cap, Iron Man and others who would have performed this function. But Nick is qualified more than anyone else, with his background in espionage, his years in S.H.I.E.L.D. and the CIA, and even his military training. All of that, and his experience, give him a set of skills that probably ranks him among the best there is in terms of investigating who murdered the Watcher.
Nrama: A man with one eye on the case of a murder with eyes stolen – coincidence, or is there something to that?
Brevoort: It’s not like Nick lost his eye yesterday. [laughs] So on that level its pure coincidence. Fury has been wearing an eyepatch for a long time, but yes there’s perhaps some irony that the one-eyed man is the best investigator for a murder involving eyeballs being removed. But there’s not anything more to it than that.
Nrama: Fury’s on the case here, but also working parallel to him – and perhaps under the radar of Nick and Captain America – is Black Panther. It’s intriguing to see Panther being positioned in such a strong and prominent manner in one of Marvel’s summer event series, so can you talk about T’Challa’s role here and how it came to be?
Brevoort: The Panther is a long-storied and cool character. T’Challa, and the other characters he leads on this separate track, tend to be characters who haven’t had as much of a chance in the spotlight of big events as others. T’Challa appeared to Jason as someone specifically to use for putting together an investigation and looking into what may actually be going on. He has specific skills for this kind of thing, just as Doctor Strange has knowledge of sorcery and interdimensional travel, and Ant-Man has the ability to shrink down to the Microverse.
Black Panther is often overlooked for this, but he possesses an intellect on par with Tony Stark, Reed Richards, and the other smartest people in the Marvel Universe. And in addition to that he’s also trained as a hunter. He too has a bunch of very specific skills, and he a perfect guy to put in charge as he’s a natural leader. He’s led people and been a King, and is comfortably with authority and being in control. When you look at the disparate characters coming into play in this concurrent investigation, putting a character like Black Panther at the forefront of it makes a certain amount of sense.
Nrama: And the person who puts Black Panther on the trail is another shadowy individual, but in this case also wields a cylindrical glowing green object – seemingly the same substance as Cap believes the bullet was that killed the Watcher. The shadowy person seemingly has short blonde hair and seems to know about the murder, leading some to assume it might be Captain America playing two fronts here. Can you say anything about this third shadowy figure in Original Sin #1?
Brevoort: I can say he’s shadowy for a reason, and in the cast page of Original Sin #2 he is listed as “Mysterious Boss.” That much I can confirm. [laughs]
He’s the guy that calls T’Challa and the others into the mix. Just like the two at the end of the issue, I don’t want to spoil anything. Again, Marvel fans are super sharp, and trying to stay one step ahead of them in putting a story together is very difficult because there are so many of them. It only takes one person on the internet out in the middle of nowhere to come up with one piece of the puzzle, then someone else thousands of miles away picks up on it and figures out a second piece to add to it, leading to fans figuring out everything. So when it comes to things like that, these Q&A sessions will probably be very sparse with new information because I feel like we’ve already said and shown a lot of stuff; possibly more stuff than is safe or wise, especially since our fans are so razor sharp.
I have no doubt that I could go online right now and there would be blog posts, forum posts, whatever, which someone figuring out exactly who Mysterious Boss is.
Nrama: No doubt. However it may be, I personally kind of enjoy the name Mysterious Boss as a character name. Here’s hoping for a Mysterious Boss series down the road. [laughs]
Brevoort: [laughs] That may be. I look forward to my percentage for coming up with the name! [laughs]
Nrama: Speaking of mysteries, we have this glowing green substance; Black Widow found it in the fatal wound of the Watcher, and this Mysterious Boss character is conveniently holding a glowing green cylindrical object just a few pages before. When fans see a glowing green material of some kind, the first thing that jumps to their mind is Kryptonite. But –
Brevoort: [laughs] I think the one thing we can definitely say, maybe the only definite thing I can say in this interview, is that it’s not kryptonite. [laughs] I’m pretty sure it’s not kryptonite.
Nrama: Hey, if I didn’t say it one of our Newsarama readers might. Moving on, what can you say, if anything, about this glowing green substance – besides the fact that’s it’s not kryptonite?
Brevoort: Some kind of weapon was used to kill the Watcher, and killing the Watcher is not an easy thing to do as you can image. Uatu had phenomenal cosmic powers, and despite the fact he rarely used those powers he was well-equipped to repel most anything. So a weapon that is capable of laying the Watcher low would be extraordinary, and unusual. Tracking down whatever residue or evidence left behind might help lead to the assassin.
Nrama: Going back to the heroes, there’s some interesting pairings going on – but none moreso than Doctor Strange and the Punisher. They’ve had their errant run-ins before, but the idea of them teaming up is either the worst or the best conceivable “buddy cop” style team-up I’ve seen in quite some time. They travel in very different circles and have severely different approaches, so what can you say about these two combining forces?
Brevoort: I think that’s actually the fun of it. Certainly Jason seems to be having a good time writing all the various sequences with them in it, because they’re just so different from one another. They travel in different worlds, and their views on everything are quite different. So to thrust them together in this situation and see them bounce off each other has the potential for interesting moments.
As you’ve said, they’ve crossed paths before but there’s certainly been no profound interactions between Doctor Strange the Punisher before. Part of the approach in choosing who would work together is to see where sparks would fly. With just one page and a few panels later, we see that already. Punisher is being the Punisher, and then suddenly Strange walks in and the scene completely changes. The laws, the operating structure, all of that goes out the window when Stephen steps in. It’s kind of fun to watch Punisher in those situations and see him taken outside his comfort zone. And the same goes for Doctor Strange working alongside the Punisher. It stretches them both as character, and it’s the same kind of thing we’re doing with other characters that get brought in. Individually they’re all chosen for very specific investigatory reasons, but they are arranged into groups to get extra sizzle into those scenes as they are carried out.
They’re the world’s finest team of tomorrow. It probably won’t take more than 30 days for talk to begin here in the office about putting them in a book together. [laughs]
Nrama: One additional thing people noticed in their scenes together was the caption box billing Frank Castle as “the World’s Most Successful Mass Murderer.” Readers know full and well the Punisher kills people and Jason wrote him extensively in Punisher MAX, but that phrasing certainly adds a more malicious light to his actions. What can you say about that?
Brevoort: Again, I sort of hate to discourage conjecture about stuff, but it is an interesting way to frame things. It certainly offers a new way to look at the Punisher for people, and actually it’s pretty accurate to what he has done, what he does now, and what he will presumably do tomorrow. Certainly Jason has a history with Frank going back to Punisher MAX as you mentioned, and spent a lot of time in that character’s headspace. But I don’t think Jason hangs that nametag on Frank lightly.
It’s also just a funny line. He’s the world’s most successful mass murderer, and there’s some truth in that.
Nrama: Wrapping things up here, Original Sin #2 comes out on May 21 – what is on the horizon for people there?
Brevoort: You’ll see more people in #2 than in #1. And I can say you’ll learn the identity of at least one, if not more, of the shadowy figures in this first issue… but you may be introduced to a couple more. And you’ll also see more of Nick Fury’s flying convertible.