Original Sin just might be the weirdest summer crossover Marvel has ever produced. In lieu of blockbuster action and large-scale gatherings of heroes and villains typical of such events, writer Jason Aaron and artist Mike Deodato unfold a slow-boiling superhero noir, filled with rising tension, terse character moments, and a lot of eyeballs.
The last gory page of Original Sin #3 is sure to be the take away talking point for anyone who reads it, delivering a sequence of violence that is genuinely shocking. We’re talking Game of Thrones-level “What did I just see?” stuff.
It’s the consistently strong and intriguing dialogue, however, that’s the star of the book. From the strange ramblings of D-list villain the Orb to the investigative banter of characters like Dr. Strange, the Punisher, Moon Knight, Captain America, and old-school Nick Fury, Aaron’s script plays an unusual game and wins.
The story takes a road less traveled in superhero event books by carefully coordinating disparate plot elements and giving time to let the mood simmer. The feeling produced is that of minor chords and impending dread waiting in the wings. Secret Wars this is not.
In lesser hands, the bizarre cocktail of murdered Watchers and brooding superheroes might be a train wreck, and in fact Original Sin is not entirely immune from its own weight. As entertaining as the book is, it still walks close to the edge of grim and gritty camp. It’s a testament to Jason Aaron’s strong character moments and sense of pacing as well as Mike Deodato’s gorgeous, shadowy art that the discordant package comes together as a whole.
Deodato has drawn just about every hero in Marvel’s stable and in Original Sin #3 he takes care to keep Aaron’s sprawling plot feel grounded. His dynamic positioning of figures provides a strong sense of character emotions, making the other worldliness of a cosmic murder mystery feel real and urgent. In contrast, Deodato has does great work pairing the characters against the story’s many barren and alien locations, making even super powered beings seem small and subject to larger currents of fate (or the chaos of randomness, depending on your philosophical leanings/Jurassic Park character preference). Even mega-mort Orb is infused with character by Deodato’s art, a tough feat considering his head is an enormous unblinking eye.
Original Sin is an intriguing departure from the standard tropes of summertime crossovers. There are some trace elements reminiscent of DC’s 2004 miniseries Identity Crisis in the mix, but on the whole Aaron and Deodato have produced something unique, especially for the Marvel universe. Longtime readers are likely to be shocked and perhaps a little unnerved by the proceedings, with some of the happenings so dire that the book feels dangerously close to a What If…? story. With Aaron and Deodato’s deft execution (no pun intended), issue three of Original Sin overcomes the harsh ultra-violence to deliver a story that feels like something more than a collection of shock moments. This may not be the brightest day in the Marvel universe, but it’s an interesting and worthwhile side trip down a dark corridor.