By Gavin Smith
The public love a superhero crossover tale, the billion-dollar hauls of various Avenger movies will tell you this, but they do not always work and at this point they can feel like going over old ground. Original Sin was a comic book arc conceived by Jason Aaron and Mike Deodato that brought various heroes and anti-heroes together from across the Marvel Universe in a new and interesting way – murder. Gavin Smith has taken on the mantel of writing the prose version of the story, but can the author capture all the crime thrills and gonzo nature of the tale?
We are all being watched. There is a secret base on the moon that houses The Watcher, an entity that sees all, past, present, and future. Did he see the bullet that travelled through his brain? The Watcher is dead, but who is the killer, there are only few beings that are powerful enough and some of them are an Avenger. Could it be one of them? The Avengers have been sent into space to investigate with the help of the retired Nick Fury, but elsewhere a ragtag band of other heroes are investigating as well. Will the two teams come to the same conclusion, or will they clash?
Sin is one of the most interesting takes on the superhero crossover that I have read in a long time as it is so different than most. The central premise is a real whodunnit and many of our all-time favourite heroes are suspects. The likes of Wolverine and The Punisher are certainly off kilter enough to shoot an omnipotent being, but there are so many others. The crime story lends itself to a pacy story that reveals clues and makes this one of the most successful prose adaptations yet. Smith has some solid narrative through lines to work with and still have all the action you expect from a comic book tale.
This is a more modern Marvel story, so it carries more of the cynicism of recent years. All the heroes have a past and even the cleanest of them have got their hands dirty on occasion. A spanner is thrown into the works when a massive data dump from The Watcher’s mind is sent out. Suddenly secrets held for years come to the surface. Tensions between allies rise as they realise that even their closest confidants cannot be trusted.
What makes the book fun is not just The Avengers being involved, but a set of random meet ups who have been drawn together by a shadowy figure. Dr Strange, The Punisher, Ant Man, Emma Frost, The Black Panther, Gamora, and even, for some reason, Rocket Racoon. They are all there for a reason and as the book progresses it makes sense. These are not superheroes, but more antiheroes, willing to step into the darkness to get the job done.
This book has a nice mix of action and crime. Neither one dominates the book and I was impressed that a real crime story was being told, with red herrings and twists. As a reader you are kept guessing who the killer is. The story is told from the perspective of several characters, but mostly not the ones you would think. Emma Frost, Nick Fury and The Winter Soldier get to narrate a lot of the book. This gives the story an outsider feels that couples perfectly with the unusual crime narrative. Fans of comic action are also well served, especially towards the end with some epic set pieces that contains many of their favourites.
Out of all the graphic novel to prose books I have read, Sin is one of the best. The story lends itself well to the format as written novels and crime are happy bedfellows. Smith does a fantastic job of getting all the characters onto the page and having them mix. He captures the crime story, but also the gonzo feel of this story. A lot of highly strung characters are doing some crazy things. The book is fun, action filled, but also a good crime thriller.
Written on 27th October 2022 by Sam Tyler .