Original Sin

Original Sin by Gavin Smith from @TitanBooks #BookReview #GraphicNovel #Marvel #SuperHeroes


Titan Books, h/b, £16.99

Reviewed by Matthew Johns

Uatu the Watcher is dead. You know him – big chap, bald, wears a toga, lives on the Moon, a bit of a voyeur? Yes, that’s the one – someone has only gone and shot him and stolen his eyes. This being a Marvel novel, instead of sending for Hercule Poirot or even Columbo, Nick Fury sends for Doctor Strange, the Punisher, Moon Knight, the Winter Soldier, Emma Frost and lots of other familiar heroes to solve the mystery.

If you’re a big fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (or MCU, as it’s more commonly known), then these aren’t quite the characters that you’re familiar with. This is a fair bit darker than the MCU films and filled with revelations and situations that will probably never make it onto the silver screen, including the supervillain the Orb, who has a giant eyeball for a head (of course he does), a decapitation of a major character, and the aforementioned stolen eyes of Uatu.

While the heroes are sent off on their little quests in small groups to find answers, a band of villains have stolen mysterious artefacts from Uatu’s residence on the Moon and are becoming more powerful as a result. Led by Dr Midas, who is initially in a coma while he goes through a metamorphosis, his daughter Oubliette (also known as Exterminatrix) does a lot of the leading while plotting her own father’s downfall. Lots of villainous plotting and a fair amount of exposition abound as Exterminatrix and her cronies try to take over the world. Despite being a lifelong Marvel fan, I’d never heard of Dr Midas or his daughter, but Smith made it very easy to quickly pick up on their identities and motivations, really bringing the comic book universe to life on the page.

In anything Marvel-related containing Nick Fury, there is inevitably a profusion of secrets, lies, twists in the tale and the occasional betrayal. This novel is no different – all is not as it seems, and Nick Fury has been hiding a bigger secret than usual. His motivations for this are well-expounded, and (without giving any spoilers away) it is hard to not see him sympathetically while also perhaps questioning just what it is to be a hero. Anti-heroes are a familiar part of comic book lore, and one of the biggest themes in this book focuses on these – people doing what they know to be bad things but for what they believe to be good reasons.

Although the story in this book is very different to the onscreen antics of the MCU that many of us are familiar with, it doesn’t feel like it is completely alien. Many characters will seem familiar in their mannerisms and dialogue to their cinematic versions, so there is plenty in this book to attract and keep the attention of MCU and comic book fans alike. This is a great read, very well told, and Smith really does bring the reader into the Marvel universe through his writing.

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