Last issue, Nova learned that the Watcher's life mission is to monitor the Multiverse for signs that his father was correct in the notion that Watchers should assist universes in their development. He hasn't, though...
The story begins with the Watcher watching over all from his moon base. He observes everybody’s struggles, successes, and sins, anticipating what he may see next. He returns to his base and looks into what he is destined to see next, but finds nothing. The Watcher begins to experience fear but doesn’t stop watching. The cosmic being turns around to find a person, acknowledging their arrival. Suddenly, the station detonates.
At Cebulski’s Steak House, Captain America, Wolverine, Black Widow, and Nick Fury sit around, dining. Logan becomes angered when Steve reveals that he cannot eat any more steak. Natasha explains that she needs to bring her friends hunting for bear, the best type of meat she’s eaten. When Cap is asked about his best steak, Fury answers, retelling an old WWII story. A cow had entered a firefight with Germany, and Bucky fought for and butchered it for his squad. After many days without food, they devoured the animal “tip to tail” and Fury slept like a baby, even with mortars falling around him. Cap decides that that was the best steak he’s eaten too.
Soon, Cap gets a call from Thor and is surprised by his franticness. Natasha calls for their bill, and the three Avengers prepare to leave. Steve asks for Fury’s help, but he’s reluctant to join. When Rogers reveals that the incident occurred on the Moon, Nick decides that he’ll drive them.
Five minutes later, the group has entered space in Fury’s flying car and drive toward the Watcher’s base. Thor explains to them that he found blood and smoke floating from the area and found the Watcher. The heroes, gathered in a group consisting of Iron Man, Fury, Cap, Black Widow, Wolverine, and Thor, stand around the Watcher’s dead body, his eyes gone and a bullet lodged in his forehead. Thor continues, expounding that the murderer had left before his arrival, and Iron Man suggests that it could have been an accident, a suggestion quickly brushed away.
The group of heroes break their stillness and begin inspecting the Watcher’s dead body. Tony reveals that the cosmic being is emitting no energy and asks who is powerful enough to kill him. Judging from the blood splatter, the Black Widow deems that he was shot by a gun. Wolverine reveals there are no scents for him to follow because the air’s antiseptic. Looking around, Iron Man decides that his eyes weren’t the only items the murderers took; the house was ransacked, and Tony says, “I know just enough about the sort of things he kept here…to be very afraid right now.”
Cap summarizes their situation: “We’ve got a killer on the loose, armed with a gun that can kill a Watcher. And now he’s loaded with enough stolen super-tech to do God knows what.” After hearing Fury suggest calling in S.H.I.E.L.D. and S.W.O.R.D., Cap declares that the Avengers aren’t murder police. The ex-S.H.I.E.L.D. Director reveals to Steve that, knowing the short list of people who knew of the Watcher’s existence, their murderer may not be a villain and the investigation may lead to dark places. All Cap is worried about is finding the truth, and he asks Fury to help.
In Necropolis, Black Panther is talking to a caller, Nick Fury, who describes the Watcher’s death to him. “I know that there are some jobs the Avengers just aren’t cut out for. This is one of them,” Fury explains. The director determines that T’Challa can help him go places the super-team wouldn’t dare and sends him some files, which he describes to be a trail leading to the unseen, the original sin.
T’Challa is angered by Fury’s cryptic speaking, and he simply clarifies that the trail will lead to answers. The ex-Wakandan ruler rejects the invitation, but the caller persists to explain how wide-spread the threat is. Looking at the locations in the files, T’Challa is surprised by some of the selections, and Fury reveals that he is building a team. When he sends Black Panther his list of choices, he says, “You had better be joking.”
Elsewhere, Ant-Man, riding two flying ants, arrives at the Uncanny X-Men’s not-so-secret base, telling Emma Frost that they’ll be partners. Scott Lang further explains that, with her being a wanted criminal, their new boss must have something on her to have convinced her to help. Emma tells him to shut up or she’ll render him incapable of speech, and Scott decides that it’ll be a long ride down.
In Los Angeles, the Punisher is interrogating a man tied to a chair. Dr. Strange soon materializes, telling his companion that the goon is telling the truth. “I now he’s telling the truth. The first fifteen minutes were for making him talk. The last hour was because he deserved it,” Frank Castle replies. Strange resumes to send the thug to a dimension ruled by “beetles the size of Dobermans.” Angered, Castle tells the magician that they are not friends, nor partners, and, if he does that again, he’ll shoot off his kneecaps.
In Earth’s orbit, Moon Knight and the Winter Soldier reside in a spacecraft. Mark Spector reviews how neither of them have any relation to the Watcher and asks what Bucky’s relationship to Fury is. The Winter Soldier tells him to shut up and wonders where their third member is. Soon, Gamora from Guardians of the Galaxy appears and joins them.
At the Watcher’s moon base, Nick Fury records some observations, such as the idea that their killer is experienced. When Cap arrives, he explains that S.H.I.E.L.D. and S.W.O.R.D. are going through satellite surveillance with Tony Stark’s assistance. Wolverine and Thor are guarding their crime scene. Steve mentions that he didn’t tell S.H.I.E.L.D. of his involvement and shows Nick some fragments of a glowing, green bullet Widow dug from the Watcher’s head. After mentioning that he wants Banner to inspect the bullet, Cap gets a call from the Fantastic Four, saying they may have their first suspect.
In a devastated block of New York City, the Mindless One clobbers the Thing (heh), mentally screaming. Spider-Man swings onto the scene to help the Thing, exclaiming that the Mindless One is no joke. The beast sends mental attacks against our heroes, ranting, “Why he make I know? Was better not knowing!” Spider-Man is unsettled, since it’s supposed to be mindless.
Quickly, Ben Grimm socks the Mindless One, and Spidey webs him up. The creature persists in explaining his regret in going to the Moon, finding things there that have changed him. “Making us know was his revenge,” it screams as it pulls the Ultimate Nullifier on the two heroes. Grimm frantically attempts to convince it to release the deadly weapon, but the Mindless One keeps on yelling about wishing to be mindless again and only seeing sin now.
“Better to see nothing at all,” the Mindless One says as it points the Ultimate Nullifier at its head. The creature fires the device, exploding a section of the city. Soon, Cap, Fury, Logan, and Natasha swoop in with Fury’s flying car, a bit too late. Spidey and the Thing are surprisingly fine after the blast, but their opponent is dead. Grimm asks if the Watcher is really dead, and Fury tells the heroes to step back from the crime scene. The director exclaims, “And I’m in charge. Now… We have a murderer to track down. Let’s get to work.”
Soon, the various teams of heroes travel to their set destinations. Black Panther, Ant-Man, and Emma Frost head to the center of the Earth while Dr. Strange and Punisher teleport to an unknown location. Moon Knight, Winter Soldier, and Gamora journey to their space destination.
Elsewhere, a bunch of Mindless Ones are screaming in a cage. A shaded woman tells her partner that they lost one of their prisoners earlier and reveals that they’re evolving due to the items they stole. The darkened man grips the Watcher’s eye, saying, “It’s not our eyes I’m most interested in opening.”
This is a pretty typical first issue to a Marvel event. The various heroes are introduced, the conflict and mood are established, and there’s a bit of foreshadowing. The introduction of the Watcher’s death is very unsettling and succeeds in sticking in your mind. I’m certainly interested to see where Aaron goes with the eyes of the Watcher and the revelations they will bring to the series.
If there’s one element that truly surprised me in this issue, it is Fury’s choices for his investigational squad to find the Watcher’s killer. Some of the heroes you simply expect: Cap, Iron Man, Thor, Spider-Man, and Wolverine. The other heroes, though, are pretty random and diverse. Particularly, I’m interested to see where characters like Moon Knight, Winter Soldier, and Ant-Man will go in this series. Aaron’s teaming of the heroes is pretty composite too; who would ever expect Emma Frost, Black Panther, and Ant-Man to ever team up? Hopefully, Aaron will use these strange pair-ups to cover new ground and develop new relationships among the characters.
Speaking of character relationships, Marvel’s been advertising this event as one that will be on a more personal level than its predecessors. This beginning issue for the series, though, doesn’t really fall into this category, but Jason Aaron’s still got seven more issues for the character development of sixteen characters. While it’s about half as many characters as the last Marvel event, I think there are still too many characters to write on a personal level. Perhaps the personal stories will be written in the tie-ins while this main series just drops all the juicy reveals to be followed up. It’s going to be interesting how this event plays out in format.
Although I thought this issue was solid, I’m a bit tired what Marvel’s aiming at with this story: it’s supposed to change the entire Marvel Universe, just like Infinity and Age of Ultron and Avengers vs. X-Men and Fear Itself. Yet, I can’t think of anything truly major that happened in any of the mentioned events that still impacts the universe as Marvel insists they do. Marvel seems to infer that fans, after seeing the advertising that something will completely alter the MU, think it will be a more quality story. Instead, it’s just tiresome. I don’t care about the scope of this story’s impact as long as it’s interesting.
Mike Deodato’s art is as solid as it always is. Deodato’s consistency and detail are as top-notch as a fan of his would expect. The panel layout is engaging. One thing I’ve begun to notice in Deodato’s recent art is that his shading has begun defines shapes without the need of holding lines. This is most obvious in much of the beginning moon sequence. Of course, he still uses the hatching he is so well known for.
Typical set-up issue. I'm still interested about the strange character choices and their relationships. I'm a bit annoyed about how Marvel's ranting that it will change the entire MU, but that doesn't directly affect my grading of this issue. Deodato's art is also very good.
As a side-note, the Ultimate Nullifier is used poorly, which seems to happen monthly at Marvel. It's supposed to be one of the most powerful weapons in the universe, but Spider-Man and the Thing are seemingly untouched when it fires off right next to them.
(EDIT: Looking over the second issue of this series, the man who organized the teams with Black Panther, Ant-Man, Emma Frost, Dr. Strange, Punisher, Moon Knight, Winter Soldier, and Gamora is not, as I thought, Nick Fury. In this issue, his identity isn't revealed while Fury runs a separate operation with the regular Avengers.)