Jason Aaron steps on the brakes, slowing the brisk pace of his revelation filled narrative in this current issue that trades dynamic character interaction and up-tempo timing for meticulously detailed exposition and historic flashbacks – all in the cause of more fully examining the character of Nicholas J. Fury.
One may infer by this opening sentence that they are in for an arduously drawn-out, exhaustive portrait of Marvel’s eye patch sporting super spy, but boy would they be wrong. Aaron does take a rather unexpected detour with this issue, especially in light of how exciting and shocking this story has been thus far. However, he very deliberately dissects Fury with surgical precision at the very moment this information becomes imperative to the forward progression of the narrative. There are elements of Fury’s extensive and storied past that even die hard Marvel fans may not know or readily remember because of Aaron’s decision to literally turn this issue over to Nick Fury (a great majority of the story is narrated by Fury).
The preceding two issues have ended with mind-blowing revelations centered on Fury; first his perceived murder by the Winter Soldier which is immediately followed by the revelation that the Fury slayed by the Winter Soldier was in fact an LMD and the “real” Fury is actually alive but a very elderly man. All of this data is almost too much to take in – so much in the way that the Star Wars films go on to become the story of Darth Vader, Original Sin has become Nick Fury’s tale. This shift makes an exclusively Nick Fury-centric issue not only clever but necessary.
Aaron delves into the history of Marvel’s greatest Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. beginning with his days as a member of The Howling Commandos through his time as leader of the Secret Warriors on up to his current often ambiguous position within S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Marvel Universe as a whole. This interlude may seem to be a bit too lengthy of a digression at this point in an exciting, well established narrative but I think that if you read it as a precursor to the next chapter of the story it makes perfect sense. Although this approach does seem to hang a dynamic supporting cast out to dry for an entire issue; that is my only complaint and it is precisely because Aaron has done such a bang up job with the characterisations and interactions within this diverse and eccentric cast that they are so sorely missed, particularly Doctor Strange and the Punisher. For my money you can’t get a more “odd” couple, but Aaron makes magic happen with these two diametrically opposed “heroes”. The main plot of Original Sin is so strong that it can withstand a course deviation to further and more deeply develop one of the main players in this multi-faceted narrative without losing significant momentum. I can just about feel Exterminatrix and Dr. Midas lurking in the shadows, waiting for their moment to strike with maximum proficiency and malice.
Mike Deodato does a phenomenal job of bringing Fury’s legendary past to the page as he astutely illustrates Fury’s narration, enhancing his words with striking and dramatic images. Deodato does some of his most stunning and inventive page composition in this issue. He makes effective use of panel layouts creating an intensely cinematic feel depicting scenes from Secret Invasion and other equally iconic moments in the life of Nick Fury. Once again Frank Martin captures the tone of the narrative perfectly with his evocative palette of moody, subdued shades. The collaborative result of this creative team is a cohesive work crafted with chemistry and a mutual vision. This is visually one of the most dramatic issues in the series.
Sure this issue is a bit of a change of pace, especially following the big reveals of the previous issues, but Jason Aaron shrewdly throttles down the action and gives us a decidedly more cerebral chapter as a preface to what is sure to be a return to the excitement and over the top action that we have come to expect of this wildly entertaining and engrossing epic. Don’t jump ship if this issue didn’t scratch you where you itched. Have faith true believers, this is going to be one event that lives up to and dare I say exceeds the hype.
’nuff said. (4/5)