Fortunately for the Avengers et al, the rapidly-evolving Mindless Ones blow the search for the Watcher's murderers wide open, allowing the team to track down an important artifact from the moon: The Watcher's eye. In a surprising turn of events, Jason Aaron and Mike Deodato dive right into the story by giving a glimpse into the villains' perspective; while the villains they reveal are clearly only a small part of a larger coup, this collection of D-listers will certainly pique interest in the men behind the curtain. With a regrettably lackluster cliffhanger, "Original Sin" #2 comes in strong with action-packed, one-liner fun and dazzling creature design.
For all that this book has been promoted as dark (murder! intrigue! secrets!), the tone is surprisingly lighthearted. Simply put, the issue has more than one chuckle-worthy sequence, largely thanks to banter between old and new team dynamics; for instance, the unlikely pairing of Doctor Strange and the Punisher throws a sharp and rather hilarious contrast on the way these wildly different characters approach the same problem. Of all the characters, however, Nick Fury absolutely steals the show. It's great to have classic Fury back in action, dropping priceless one-liners in his gruff, over-the-top way and dramatically taking out his adversaries with explosions-a-plenty. With the book's darkly funny tone aside, Aaron packs in a lot of action and balances out the teams well. This issue truly feels like an ensemble, with just enough focus on each character that no one seems shortchanged.
Although the issue is -- for the most part -- solidly put together, the ending leaves a lot to be desired. (I'm going to go into detail here, so you might want to skip this if you haven't read the issue; you've been warned!) For one, the villains – Oubliette, the Orb, and someone as-of-yet unnamed – are disposed of rather quickly, which isn't that unsurprising due to the sheer amount of Avengers that came at them. However, for all the hype that Stark, Banner and the others created around the strength of the Mindless Ones, they don't last much more than two pages. What's more, the cliffhanger doesn't pack quite the punch that it suggests. The Orb is -- as Aaron notes -- a Z-list villain and, although we know that the Watcher's eye holds some form of power, we don't know what that is just yet. In other words, the cliffhanger just doesn't give off that "changing the world" vibe yet, even though the last page implies that we should feel the gravitas of this announcement with its grandiose character reveal and melodramatic closing words.
With a team as this gigantic, Mike Deodato had a lot to work with in this book. Nevertheless, his attention to detail is miraculous, particularly in his backgrounds; his New York City looks like a photograph with its incredible definition. Additionally, his creature design is delightfully bizarre. Within the first three pages, for example, he lays out a breathtaking splash page stuffed to the nines with all manner of wonderfully distinct monsters. His layouts are likewise terrific, with appropriately psychedelic line breaks in Doctor Strange's alternate plane of existence and cascading panels in the final fight scene.
However, his figures come across as rather stiff, especially during action sequences; the words and expressions often don't line up, with characters looking either too overzealous or apathetic against their dialogue. Once they're firmly put in poses, though, they look absolutely stunning; Deodato does the last splash page great justice by cramming an astonishing amount of superheroes into the spread with an organic feel. Frank Martin offers a pallet of muted colors that anchors the book's more serious scenes, keeping the book grounded for all Aaron's banter. Although Aaron throws a lot of text at him, Chris Eliopoulos handles the lettering with grace, packing in a ton of dialogue in a naturalistic, easy to read way; this becomes especially clear in one scene between Stark and Banner, as they puzzle out how to track the Mindless Ones, where Eliopoulos pulls off an almost overwhelming amount of text in a smart, comprehensive way.
"Original Sin" #2 keeps things interesting with its fast pace, genuine character chemistry, and meticulous art style. Although there is certainly room for improvement with this book, Aaron and Deodato are off to a strong start with an issue that will give readers both an adrenaline rush and a hearty chuckle.