Sinning in Fury

Original Sin was Marvel’s 2014 blockbuster mini-series. For the past decade, these have appeared almost annually, messing up regular continuity, throwing unexpected revelations into the already complicated Marvel Universe, and being made irrelevant a year later when the next mini-series resets everything. The whole retcon caused by the current Secret War mini-series makes all of them pointless, since that one mashes up all the alternative Marvel Universes. Who cares what happened in 2014?

Sadly, Original Sin had some nice surprises. Nick Fury, the one played by Sam L in the movies, turned out to be an undercover slayer of monsters. The Watcher, who is a bit like God, got killed and had his eyes taken out. A collection of grimdark heroes (The Punisher, Moon Knight, Gamora and so on) teamed up and got nasty. There’s a big fight in outer-space, the panelling isn’t too hysterical (even when Hulk and Thor are going at it), and the balance of tension and action works well.

The rise of the epic mini-series – which might have something to do with the rise of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Although they use existing continuity, they are self-contained enough to translate into a graphic novel, and they play on the excitement of seeing heroes interact with other heroes, and even have a cheeky ruck with them.

Original Sin does all of this, and throws in a few big themes: The Watcher getting nailed moves into a whole God is Dead routine, while the revelation that Fury had a secret life saving the universe with extreme prejudice gives the predicable morality of superheroes another rinsing. The spin-off comics (Hulk versus Iron Man, a fantastic adventure with Thor) do their business efficiently without being essential to the main plot.

ORIGSIN2014002020scolUnfortunately, none of this matters: the world gets saved, the status quo shifts a little bit, only for another mini to shift it a little further. It’s admiral for Marvel to use their characters in a bold, epic adventure (even if it means the characters they don’t use become less important, and there’s a bit too much emphasis on the big names). It’s the tension that the Cinematic Universe doesn’t feel yet, between the need to keep continuity and tell fresh stories. At least Original doesn’t simply copy earlier stories (Secret Invasion  was a riff on classic Avengers, Civil War II is probably not necessary now, except as a film cash-in), and has some fun getting the warhorses into outer-space and cosmic antics.

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