Today, Drew and Shelby are discussing Original Sin 3, originally released June 4th, 2014.
Someone shot and killed…a planet. I’m gonna need a minute to process that.
Drew: The last time we talked about this series, I couldn’t get over how over-the-top comic book-y it is. And I mean that quite specifically: it’s not just epic or violent (as so many summer crossover events tend to be), it’s also whole-heartedly absurd, embracing all of the silliness that makes comics so much fun in the first place. Or, at least I thought that’s what this series was. Immediately after building to the line highlighted in the epigraph, this issue takes a sudden turn into the gory. The abruptness of the shift in tone makes it utterly shocking, but it may also rob this series of the frivolity that distinguished it from the likes of DC’s joyless gore-fests.
The action picks up with the Orb somehow releasing the secrets contained in the Watcher’s eye, giving the Avengers (and any other folks in the area) insights into the secrets that have been kept from them. That has repercussions that will play out in the tie-ins, but for now, has left most of our key players unaffected. Notably, Nick Fury didn’t see any secrets (or have any spilled), which seems a bit suspicious. Anyway, the Orb is captured, but it quickly becomes clear that he didn’t kill the Watcher AND that the other eye is still at large. Meanwhile, our random team-ups are continuing their investigations, coming up with a motive (the Watcher was witness to other crimes, you know, because he’s the Watcher) and revealing that the killer must have been an incredible shot. Like, top ten in the world good. Oh right, then Bucky goes nuts and kills Nick Fury.
It certainly makes Bucky look guilty. I mean, he’s got to be on that list of sharpshooters, right? But here’s the thing: so is Nick Fury. Jason Aaron and Mike Deodato play that scene just ambiguous enough to make it unclear whether Bucky felt the noose closing around his own neck, or if he realized who was really behind this, but either way: Nick Fury is dead.
To me, that death feels distinctly New 52-like — particularly the accompanying dismemberment. Indeed, the resemblance is so strong as to make me immediately jump to the conclusion that Aaron is poking fun at the overly serious, overly violent stereotype of DC’s recent big events. I mean, he even goes so far as to have Gamora remember that time Mogo died (even if she does get his name wrong).
Look, I know that DC doesn’t own the concept of sentient planets — heck, Mogo might very well be a ripoff of the planet Gamora mentions here — but I do think this scene is designed to make us think of DC. That point is only emphasized when Bucky blows off Nick’s hand before finally hacking his head of with a machete.
As someone who sees DC’s current infatuation with dismemberment as utterly satire-worthy, I should be doubled over with laughter here, but the problem is that it’s indistinguishable from what it’s meant to be sending up. Let me be clear: this isn’t quite Poe’s law, where lack of indication makes it impossible to distinguish sincerity from parody — I personally see enough indicators here to believe this is parody — instead, I think the parody is so close to the real thing that it doesn’t matter. That is, no amount of winking at the camera makes the gratuitousness of the violence more palatable. Parody or no, at the end of the day, Nick Fury is still dead.
I think the problem is that Aaron and Deodato are trying to have it both ways. They want the Marvel fans to snicker at how over-the-top this DC send-up is, but they also want to give DC fans a story full of that very same over-the-top grimness. The result is a totally straight-faced comic — a trait I praised last time, but comes of as disingenuous here. This issue is still full of hilariously absurd conceits — I’m particularly fond of Wolverine and Hulk’s “stab cop, smash cop” routine — but again, that last scene changes the tone so abruptly as to make me unsure of what’s actually important to this story.
What do you think, Shelby? Am I overreacting to that final image? It seems hard to imagine Tony wearing his bathrobe with a bathrobe now that Nick Fury has been decapitated. I’ll concede that this could still fall within the purview of “absurd comic book silliness” if Nick turns out to be a rogue LMD or Skrull or something, but assuming he’s actually dead (maybe to make for a more Samuel L. Jackson-like replacement), this seems like a pretty joyless turn for this series. What do you think? Am I making too big of a deal out of the silliness of this series? Or maybe out of that last page’s seriousness? At the very least, I’m sure you were as surprised with that last sequence as I was.
Shelby: I was surprised, but delightfully so. Gore or no, I still think this title is plenty absurd; just look at that image you posted of Bucky holding Nick Fury’s severed head and a giant eyeball! That is utterly ridiculous.
Personally, I don’t think this whole issue is about sending up DC for its overly grim demeanor, I think this is a commentary on the comic book medium as a whole. The name of the event is Original Sin, right? I think we’re looking at Aaron and Deodato’s representation of comic books’ original sins. Last issue we got bizarre villains and general silliness, and I think this issue is referencing the extreme gore and nonsensical muscles of the 90’s. That image of Bucky could be straight out of an early Rob Liefeld Image book: IMMENSE muscles, giant metal codpiece (what?), gun, sword, non-visible feet. Heck, the delightful Wolverine/Hulk interrogation scene could be right out of an issue of Sin City if it had a few less colors.
And I hate to burst your bubble, Drew, but Ego the Living Planet is a real character; Jack Kirby came up with him in nearly 20 years before Alan Moore had the idea. I can definitely see why you’d think it’s a parody, though. Ego the Living Planet sounds plenty ridiculous.
So, where do we go from here? Plot-wise, I think it’s pretty safe to say Fury was killed and decapitated for the same reason the Watcher was killed and enucleated; that one-eyed head is full of secrets, and someone either a) doesn’t want them getting out or b) wants them all for himself. I also don’t believe for a second that Bucky is masterminding anything. His entire modus operandi is being brainwashed and crazy. Although…the mysterious figure who sent the weird teams out to investigate does look an awful lot like Fury… That’s what makes this series so much fun. Aaron is trading heavily on established comic book tropes: the Mysterious Figure Pulling Strings, the Apparent Teammate Betrayal, the Sudden and Unexpected “Death” of a Major Character. While I recognize these clichés for what they are, Aaron still manages to create a compelling mystery with them. I see the intent behind the industry’s original sins, but I’m also having a total blast with just the story.
For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page. Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore. If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to Comixology and download issues there. There’s no need to pirate, right?