Original Sin #3

"Original Sin" #3 -- and the series in general up until this point -- is a comic with lots of little, semi-connected scenes that jump all over the Marvel Universe's locations and characters. And while this could have come across as far-reaching and all-inclusive, instead it's a bit disjointed and a hodgepodge. But here's the good news: There's a certain heart to "Original Sin" #3 courtesy of Jason Aaron and Mike Deodato, that makes it still fun to read.

As with past issues, we have random groups of characters investigating the death of the Watcher, as well as a bit more follow-up to "Original Sin" #2's revelations that the Orb, Exterminatrix and Dr. Midas are all involved in the mix. Some of these elements work better than others; there's an early scene involving the nature of the dead Watcher's eye that seems there solely to allow for a lot of tie-in issues where each character investigates their own personal unrevealed truth. It's a clunky moment, one that happens early enough in the issue that you might find yourself grimacing in response.

But here's the good thing -- once you get past it, things get a little better. There are still some eyebrow-raising moments, like Doctor Strange and the Punisher talking about a list of the ten best sharpshooters in the Marvel Universe. You almost expect one of them to pull a copy of "The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe" from a back pocket and to start leafing through it. But then you see moments like where the Winter Soldier/Gamora/Moon Knight team's trail led them, or Nick Fury's musing over an event that affected everyone but him, and we're getting glimpses of the bigger picture, the core that's driving this entire comic. That's the part that I not only have no problem with, but I'm whole-heartedly enjoying. It's a strange story, dredging up even stranger characters, but so far, so good.

Deodato's art is in many ways a mirror of the writing. When it comes to the big, sweeping moments, he's doing good. The strange grid layouts of the opening pages are well laid out and look sharp, and the warping panel borders when the bomb goes off are wonderfully apt. Deodato takes care to give each page its own identity; the deliberate tilt for the scenes where Doctor Strange and the Punisher are in another dimension, for example, or the pull-back-and-reveal moment of the outer space group's discovery. It's only when you get down to the little details that it doesn't always work. Deodato's good with characters who have distinct costumes (or a very specific and unique look, like Nick Fury and his eye patch), but put people in civilian clothing and they all just blur together. And while I appreciate that colorist Frank Martin isn't using day-glow hues or attacking us with lens flares, most of these page have a flat and almost muddy look to them. Aside from the outer space pages, I'm reminded of all of the talk of the "Vertigo brown" coloring that for years cropped up in most titles in that publishing line. I understand that this isn't supposed to be a poppy and cheerful looking comic, but some more distinct colors would be great.

"Original Sin" #3 is a comic that will ultimately be remembered for its big reveal on the final pages. We're early enough into the miniseries that while this could be the revelation that we didn't think we'd see until issue #7, it could also just as easily be a fake-out so that we're surprised a little further down the line. For now, though, it's effective, even if I'm sure for many it's not entirely making sense. (It's also hard to keep from wondering if this is supposed to align some characters a bit more with their movie counterparts.) As cliffhangers go, though, it's top-notch; it definitely achieved its purpose there.

This comic might be all over the place, but it's still fun. Hopefully, with revelations given out (and tie-ins launched), remaining issues can start pulling all of the disparate pieces together and have a slightly more focused route. It's good, but it isn't achieving greatness just yet. Still, there's plenty of time to get there.

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