Despite effective artwork and much-awaited answers, Jason Aaron and Mike Deodato's "Original Sin" #8 doesn't quite stick the landing. The pacing and structural problems of the last few issues were bound to take a toll on the finale, and issue #8 doesn't make a strong impact. Though it's a disappointing end to an altogether average series, it does establish creative, promising consequences for the Marvel Universe.
I like to start with the positive, and Mike Deodato and Frank Martin produce some beautiful, fascinating panels. With cloudy backgrounds and murky inking, these pages do require close attention -- no easily readable action here -- but I was only ever surprised, not confused. The arrangements are simply so unexpected, with shapes popping in and out of the corners. Deodato also isn't afraid to the let the metaphorical take visual precedence over the action, sometimes even leaving the Watcher's corpse right under the reader's nose, in the foreground, rather than hovering in the background.
Aaron switches between past and present frequently, and rather than making the transitions neat, he bleeds the two together -- fitting for a series about sin and its consequences. The dialogue for the past often begins on a panel set in the present, sometimes even preceding a page flip (for those reading physical copies). Deodato and Martin differentiate clearly enough between the two times, but the team does lean heavily on letter Chris Eliopoulous for some of these transitions. He sells them seamlessly, but without such smart lettering, they'd have been unreadable.
All of these accomplishments aside, the structure of "Original Sin" is perhaps its biggest problem. It began as an MU-wide murder mystery, with involvement from and consequences for dozens of characters. And yet, as a murder mystery, "Original Sin" has a host of problems: it's paced too slowly, its emotional beats do not center on the victim, and the 'clues' are either entirely obvious or suddenly dropped. These problems made sense once it was revealed that, at its core, "Original Sin" is much less interested in who killed the Watcher than in what Nick Fury has done.
That shift in focus would be fine if the structure rose to meet it. However, Aaron still delays the reveal of the Watcher's killer until the last issue. Having already revealed his biggest secret -- Nick's "man on the wall" rampages -- he now circles back to the lesser secret of who killed the Watcher. Although dramatically and emotionally, the Watcher's murder hasn't taken precedence, it is now structurally seated as if it had. Issue #8 therefore ends up feeling anticlimactic -- because, for the most part, it is about the anticlimax.
My criticisms aside, "Original Sin" is a tentpole event book, and tentpole events aren't just measured as issues in and of themselves. They're also measured by their implications. In that regard, "Original Sin" #8 enjoys quite a few successes. It sets up interesting things for Oubliette, Bucky and a few other characters in its final pages, and it's allowed for some fun tweaks to continuity in other series.
All told, "Original Sin" is not one of my favorite events, but it's also not one of my least. Issue #8 is a tepid but serviceable final issue that I might even revisit, if only for Deodato's artwork.