Jason Aaron and Mike Deodato’s “Original Sin” #1 kicks off the MU-wide murder mystery with a full issue that works despite the heavy lifting it has to do. Aaron freshens the usual mechanics of a capital-E Event with unexpected team-ups and intimate character moments that keep “Original Sin” from feeling too bland and rushed. The story is less focused on what the death of the Watcher means, and more on what the death of the Watcher means everyone will do next. It’s a smart move: the latter is more interesting to a retcon-weary comics audience, who’ll be suspicious of any event that claims “lasting” significance.
More than eighteen characters appear in “Original Sin” #1, most for only a few pages, and that structure can lend itself to generic, phoned-in dialogue. Instead, Aaron spends three pages having Captain America, Black Widow and Wolverine discuss hunting bears over steak. This is one of the most enjoyable scenes in the issue, not only serving as a fine intro for Nicky Fury, but also establishing a close-up focus for a cosmic event. Taking time to enjoy the characters like this goes a long way toward easing the cold, corporate event feel.
Aaron gives almost the entire cast this type of attention, if not at three-page length. Partnerships between Emma Frost and Ant-Man, Doctor Strange and Punisher, or Winter Soldier, Gamora and Moon Knight take advantage of the event’s scope to show something a little different. While these odd-couple pairings often happen in events, they’re not always in the main book. It’s great to read more than the usual suspects doing their usual thing, and Aaron gives each character a fun line or important moment.
That said, this issue stumbled occasionally — the first pages went too strong on the heavy-handed narration, something Aaron’s done much more effectively in “Thor: God of Thunder.” And for all its execution, “Original Sin” #1 still very obviously a set-the-stage book.
Deodato’s artwork got the job done, but it didn’t impress me. The figure work is a bit blocky, and the inking is too heavy on the black. Even in scenes where the characters are talking at a table, their expressions are unreadable and shadowed. It’s an effect that I understand in principle. This is a murder mystery, so it’s clever to add some darker, noir edges to the art, but it doesn’t need to be hit so hard in every panel.
Martin’s texture and shading are more striking, particularly when he’s coloring the moon. The contrast in color flatness between the starscape and the landscape almost makes it look like two different books collided. It definitely drew my attention, and it gives the Watcher’s home an otherworldliness that’s quite appropriate for a crime scene on the moon. However, Martin also gives in to the temptation to over-shroud, and many of the scenes are too dark to read. As with the linework, I like the principle, but it just needs a lighter touch.
All told, the debut series issue gives me hope that the premise of “Original Sin” has touched on something a bit more winning than the standard big disaster event. If the creative team keeps the lens on the characters, as a premise built on those characters’ sins allows them to do, this could be a really interesting read.