Teased last year, Marvel Comics' "Original Sin" event series seeks to answer a single question: "Who killed The Watcher?" In the May debut of the series, writer Jason Aaron and artist Mike Deodato will start the ball rolling on the investigation as Nick Fury gathers a team of Marvel heroes -- including Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Punisher, Doctor Strange, Emma Frost, Ant-Man and Black Panther - to investigate and pursue the individual who murdered one of the largest figures of the Marvel Universe.
In order to shed some light on the upcoming event series, Aaron alongside Senior Vice President of Publishing Tom Brevoort and Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso gathered together on a press conference call to discuss the progression of the series and the events that lead up to The Watcher's untimely demise.
After introductions by PR guru Christopher D'Lando, the call kicked off with Aaron describing the valuable information that got lifted following the murder.
"When the heroes find The Watcher's body on the moon, his eyes are gone," Aaron said. "The Watcher's eyes are really the secret to unlocking everything he's witnessed over the years. Whoever holds one of the eyes is able to explode a bomb full of secrets and unleash all the various secrets of the Marvel Universe into the wild through that eye."
"This is the ultimate NSA leak of the Marvel Universe," said Brevoort. "[He] knows where all the bodies are buried, including ones that none of our readers know are there."
The explosion of information "happens in issue #2," according to Aaron, and while there wasn't much the panelists could reveal about the circumstances, part of the mystery is figuring out who has the Watcher's eye.
"We talked in the past about how the structure of this is different than the other events that we've done," said Brevoort. "With the new information we've just revealed you can figure out that once the detonation goes off and the first wave of secrets get deseminated out to our characters, that's going to set off a multitude of stories. Those secrets are mostly what's going to be driving most of the assorted tie-in books." Brevoort stated the secrets will "affect the main series as well," but the secrets affecting each of the main characters will mostly be addressed in the tie-ins.
"In addition to the NSA, it's also the TMZ of the Marvel Universe," said Brevoort, who noted all the characters would get put through the ringer that's a lot more personal and emotional than an event usually is. "These events are much more personal, they're much more about an individual and their lives and situations and the choices they've made; and how the revelation of these things will change their place in the world, their outlook on life -- really, everything about them. All the tie-in stories we're doing here are supremely meaty in a way that perhaps in the past not every tie-in has been."
The core of "Original Sin" deals more with the murder of the Watcher, according to Alonso and "can be read independent of everything else."
There were two secrets the panelists were willing to put on the table: Captain America will learn that somebody close to him has tampered with his memories ("That will have a seismic effect on Cap's relationship with the people around him," said Brevoort. "It's the worst possible time for Cap to be faced with something like this."); and in Spider-Man's world, we'll learn that there is someone else that was bitten by the radioactive spider that originally bit Peter Parker. Fallout will begin being dealt with in Dan Slott's new "Amazing Spider-Man" #1. "It's a character that cuts back to the very first day in the science lab," said Brevoort.
"All the 'Original Sin' tie-ins will be important," said Alonso. "There will be long-term, permanent ramifications for [characters'] lives. ... There will be at least one instance how you see how the paths of two characters intersected in ways they didn't know."
There will, of course, be stories related to all of Marvel's major characters -- including Deadpool. "No mainstay of the Marvel Universe will be left untouched by the events of 'Original Sin,'" said Brevoort.
"Original Sin" has quite a few characters that usually might not headline a major Marvel event, and Aaron said it's as a result of two investigations going on in the series. One investigation has to do with the homicide detective squad headed up by Captain America, while the other is more of a clandestine investigation led by Black Panther, Moon Knight, Emma Frost and more -- and they discover this isn't the first time the Watcher's murderer has killed. "We start to follow a murder trailer that takes us to a lot of corners of the Marvel Universe," said Aaron. "We get to follow these different characters, that's been one of the most fun parts of it for me." He described Doctor Strange and Punisher as a "buddy cop movie," and said pairing the characters off had been a lot of fun.
Each of Aaron's cast has unique qualifications for the investigation, and "if you look at the total group, you'll see there's not a lot of overlap in terms of their areas of expertise." The group covers all the bases in the Marvel Universe and there are very specific reasons as to why they're spearheading the investigation.
The personal nature of the secrets revealed puts the investigation into a tailspin when the information drops in the second issue, and Brevoort likened the revelation to Spider-Man needing to fight Doc Ock, but also needed to get Aunt May her pills -- one is a necessary world-saving action, while the other is placed above it due its the personal nature.
Brevoort described Aaron's series as "beautifully laid out," and said that Deodato has added a weight to the visuals that add to the mystery of the comic.
In terms of developing the secrets revealed, Brevoort said it wasn't difficult on one hand, simply because it's "what [they] do every day" but on the other hand, it was difficult because of their reticence to "break anything too much." "We were really looking at our creators and our editorial staff to venture into some dangerous waters in terms of viewing all of these characters," he said. "You want these secrets to carry some emotional impact."
The mystery of "Original Sin" and the development of the tie-ins was a more organic process. "This wasn't me telling Dan Slott how to write a Spider-Man story," Aaron said, noting that a lot of the development came about as a retreat. "This is about a bomb that explodes and ripples out into the other books. Mark Waid doesn't need my help writing a Daredevil story."
Original Nick Fury has taken the lead in the investigation of "Original Sin," and Brevoort stated that he'd be a big player, but wouldn't say about what would happen to him, and left to door open as to his eventual fate by the end of the series.
The story was an idea that came out of one of Marvel's retreats -- and actually has been in the aether for a few retreats. (Brevoort said it's been around since "Fear Itself," and the idea initially came from "Young Avengers" writer Allan Heinberg.) "Whatever ideas are floating around like that, they're always waiting for someone to grab it," said Aaron. "The more we talked about the murder mystery of it, [the more] I thought it was something I could see myself writing."
It was Ed Brubaker who originally floated the idea of The Watcher being the one who was killed, the seeds of which can be seen in his "Point One" story, but the "Original Sin" story is wholly Jason Aaron's.
"This is definitely Jason's story," said Alonso. "Until you have that author who wants it, you can't do anything. We talked about 'Original Sin' on my very first retreat as Editor-in-Chief." Alonso further stated that the time was right and the stars aligned to do the event now, with Brevoort adding that Aaron was the one who stepped up to take a crack at it.
In terms of the main series, Aaron agreed with Brevoort, but said the story was -- at its core -- about the murder of a giant bald guy on the moon.
This is Aaron's first time writing Nick Fury and Ant-Man, and he said both were a lot of fun, but he emphasized that his favorite pairing was Punisher and Doctor Strange. "It might seem we're trying to take Punisher and make him something else, but we're not," said Aaron. "In my mind, this is the Garth Ennis Punisher while he's hanging out with Doctor Strange."
The "Mighty Avengers" tie-in will deal with the mate and unborn child of The Watcher introduced in Matt Fraction and Mike Allred's "FF."
Aaron is also the steward of Thor in "Thor: God of Thunder," and the writer said he'll be the one to discover The Watcher's body in the core series, and much like the rest of the Marvel U, he's got a major secret that'll run through the "Thor" book and the "Loki: Agent of Asgard" series as well.
One of the major questions that gets asked in the first issue is "Who watches the Earth without The Watcher?"
The overall tone of the series will be not be light -- and Aaron stated it would be closer to the first couple arcs of "Thor" than it would be to "Wolverine and the X-Men." "It's dark at times, but it's also got big elements, just from the nature of the fact that it's the body of The Watcher discovered on the body of the moon," said Aaron. "It's got a streak of dark Kirby and Morrison sprinkled throughout it."
The event will spread across four months, with two issues a month from May through August. The zero issue by Mark Waid and Jim Cheung will debut in April, and is a "completely new story that reveals secrets about The Watcher himself and the young hero Nova," according to Brevoort.
While the first eye will figuratively explode in the second issue, both eyes will come into play during the series -- and Aaron implied that the question of what happened to the second eye will likely show up in the third issue of the core series.
Black Panther is one of Aaron's favorite characters, and said his two-issue "Secret Invasion" run on the character were similar in tone to "Original Sin."
"Original Sin" #1 hits stores in May.