Sunday, August 24, 2014

Spoiler Sunday--Unoriginal Sin

Look, we really have to talk about the abominable and head-shakingly awful Original Sin.

But to do so, I've got to spoil some major revelations from Original Sin #5 from last month, as well as this week's Original Sins #5.

So if you haven't read them yet, or are waiting for the trade, you'll probably want to come back later.

Spoiler-filled rant commences after the pictures of 5 original sins that are all better than Marvel's event...


So the whole Original Sin debacle is supposedly about the death of The Watcher, and the theft of his eyes. Those eyes keep "exploding," releasing many of the deep, dark secrets Uatu has seen over the years. Blah, blah.

But what the series is really about is figuring out what to do with Nick Fury.

Not the new, younger, let's-cash-in-on-Sam-Jackson-as-Fury-even-though-he's-always-wearing-a-spandex-thing-that-Sam-Jackson-would-never-be-caught-dead-wearing guy. No, the problem Marvel has is, now that young Fury is around, and Maria Hill is entrenched as leader of S.H.I.E.L.D., what the hell do you do with the "old" Nick Fury?

The obvious answer is, you turn him into a genocidal villain.

Original Sin has Identity Crisis-envy so badly, I'm surprised that they haven't had Batroc violate Aunt May. The entire series is about deep, dark revelations of "sins" that make us reevaluate our heroes. Because who wants nice heroes when we can have folks who have violated our trust and their own morals? Besides, it's more fun to shit on characters...

So for older Fury, they've gone and rewritten/refocused history, like this:

In 1958, Fury and his Defense Intelligence squad stumble upon an alien invasion:

His guys are wiped out, but Fury (and Earth) are saved by the appearance of a mysterious flying, gun-toting dude:

Our savior dies in the fight, but not before he sends a bomb through the portal that destroys the entire alien world on the other side. The entire world:

Well, Howard Stark shows up, and expositions us. The dead hero was Woodrow McCord, the "man on the wall." (Don't bother looking it up--you've never heard of him before, and you will never hear of him again) You see, Stark and others have been scavenging lost alien technology for years (a la Torchwood...ahem) so they can protect Earth from the alien threats that they know are out there. And there is always one man--answerable to no one, who uses all the goodies to do whatever is necessary to save us all:

And since McCord is dead, we need a new "man on the wall," and Stark recruits Fury to be that man.

Q: Well, if the job is so important, why only have one man on the wall? Why not two, or three? A whole squad?
A: Don't ask sensible questions about nonsensical retcons!

Fury takes the job, moves operations to a super-secret stealth satellite, and begins to protect Earth.


By assassinating alien leaders who lust after our planet:

By wiping out threats before they become so big that super-heroes might become involved:

By going all Guantanamo on captured aliens:

And, yeah, eliminating entire planets. Yes, ELIMINATING ENTIRE PLANETS:

Now, Fury did this while still working for the CIA, and then S.H.I.E.L.D., basically pulling a Peter Parker/Clark Kent and finding an excuse to run off whenever a cosmic-level threat reared its head. Seriously, we're shown him ditching an important briefing when he "forgot it Aunt Matilda's birthday."

Eventually, though, Fury got himself a corp of LMD's who could cover for him when he was extincting entire species.

Also, the Infinity Formula in his blood stopped working, so he's ridiculously old now.

So any recent interactions with a Nick Fury who looks like he always have have most likely been with a Doombot LMD. This has the benefit of conveniently (and lazily) hand-waving away any difficult continuity questions that might arise from this silliness.

Of course, there are other questions:

Q: So where was the "man on the wall" during The Invasion? Why did he let the Skrulls invade?
A: Uhhh...

Q: Where was all-powerful Nick Fury during the Kree-Skrull War?
A: Uhhh....

Q: Hey, how come Nick Fury and his Howling Weapons Of Mass Destruction didn't stop Thanos' alien fleet during Infinity?
A: Uhhh...

Q: Hey, speaking of Thanos, the bastard has attacked Earth and thereabouts any number of times. He's precisely the type of thing Nick took the position to stop. And pro-active Nick has weapons capable of killing a Watcher--why didn't he just put a bullet in the Titan's head at any time, like he did to other alien threats?
A: Look, you're not playing fair by asking logical questions that we never thought about!

So, in other words, Uber-Fury saved Earth from countless cosmic threats--except the ones he didn't.

Now look, I understand that Jason Aaron is trying to give us a "subtle" critique of the American "neo-cons," and of many of the things the Bush administration did post-9/11.

All well and good (if not exactly timely). But why the hell do you have to shit all over Nick Fury to make that happen? I've read my fair share of Nick Fury comics, and I never got the sense that he was the type who would endorse, for example, killing every man, woman and child in Germany in order to stop the Nazis. Which is essentially what he's doing here, with his "watch entire races die screaming before they can attack us" protocol.

There are other characters in the Marvel Universe who might fit better into this role, if you insist on having it. Tony Stark is a fine example of an asshole I can see rationalizing all of this as OK. There are others. But why the hell spoil Fury? Why make him into a ruthless, evil version of Captain Jack Harkness? Only because you're trying to get rid of him in favor of the new younger guy.

Oh, but wait, there's more.

In this week's Original Sins #5--a tie-in series which tells shorts stories about folks dealing with the "sins" they learn about from the Watcher's eyes--we have a story which doesn't do that at all. Instead, they decide to ruin another favorite character!

In this one, Dum Dum Dugan offers to give Fury a transfusion of his blood, in order to "kickstart" the Infinity Formula in Fury's system. Hey, it's worked before with the Super-Soldier Serum, and, as Dugan points out:

Oh, dear. Nicky has to break some bad news to Dugan:

It turns out that Dum Dum died back in 1966--yes, nearly 50 years ago--after catching a random bullet in a raid on a Hydra complex.

Wait--then how have we been seeing Dugan in so many stories since then?

Ah. So every appearance of Dugan in the modern Marvel Universe--heading up S.H.I.E.L.D. squads, chasing Godzilla for two years, everything--has just been a LMD that thinks he's Dugan.

Fuck you, Marvel.

Anyway, this information causes "Dugan" to read Fury the riot act, and call him on all of his "I'm the only man who can do this so rules and morality don't apply to me" bullshit. Finally:

Once again, fuck you, Marvel.

We've twisted continuity past any reasonably breaking point, and pooped upon the legacy of two of Marvel's oldest characters. Why? All because you want to replace one of them with a guy who more closely resembles a movie actor.

You know, Marvel, if that's what you wanted, you just could have had elder Nick die, oh, I don't know, a heroic death. You didn't have to turn him into a self-justifying/deluding genocidal maniac and symbol for a decade-old political debate, while rendering decades of stories into so much unrecognizable sewage. Except, of course, you wanted to capture some of that Identity Crisis magic.

It is possible that, in the final issue of Original Sin, that they will reveal that "bastard Fury" is himself just another LMD, and the "real" Nick Fury will be found, or revealed to be long dead, or in some way not responsible for any of this. I don't believe in a minute that will happen, but hey, it's not out yet, so who knows?

Still, the damage has been done. The reader can now never take any previous appearance of Fury at face value--was it really him? An LMD? Following his secret bastard agenda? And if he somehow survives, well, we're in Doombot territory now--no one, reader or character, will ever believe it's the real article again. Ditto for Dugan.

Marvel has effectively taken every single story of two long-term characters and coated it with a slimy, cynical coat of "ha, you thought you were reading about heroes, but we know better, because we're more 'adult' and 'edgy,' you were fooled all those years hahaha" revisionism.

As much as I love comics, there are some days when I really hate comics. I think I'd better go read some Bandette....


SF said...

It occurred to me when I reread Byrne's Man of Steel #1 the other day that the problem with 21st century superhero stories is they seem to work from the premise that the reader can easily accept that a man could have all the powers of Superman, but the reader could never accept that such a character was actually good at heart.

Jordan said...

BUT!!! I was just reading an old X-Men Forever that featured Dum Dum's daughter as a young SHEILD agent w/ a crush on Sabretooth. What was she? It is stupid to just say everything that doesn't fit is a robot duplicate . This is an old 'Bionic Woman' plot!!

Oculus Orbus said...

Marvel has effectively taken every single story of two long-term characters and coated it with a slimy, cynical coat of "ha, you thought you were reading about heroes, but we know better, because we're more 'adult' and 'edgy,' you were fooled all those years hahaha" revisionism.

This is pretty much how I felt after reading Truth: Red, White & Black.

snell said...

Jordan--but X-Men Forever was set in an alternate timeline, so it could be immune to this insane plotline.

Max said...

"Bandette" is clearly the better choice. And, yeah: WOW, is Marvel putting out some really dumb stuff right there.

George Chambers said...

I stopped buying comics ten years ago because both Marvel and DC were crapping on their loyal readers, and it's only gotten worse since then. Marvel, especially, do not care about their readers. And why should they, when they make much more money and get much more exposure from their movies?

Arynne said...


We've seen this before. When they want to get rid of a character so thoroughly that it's near impossible for a loyal writer to bring him back, they don't simply kill him off. They have him do the vilest things they can imagine, even if they make no sense whatsoever.

This is not Identity Crisis envy. This is Emerald Twilight envy.

notintheface said...

No, it's not Emerald Twilight envy. Because at least Emerald Twilight didn't take a dump on Hal Jordan RETROACTIVELY. After Emerald Twilight Hal was still a clean hero during the Broome stories, the Satellite League Era stories, and Hard Traveling Heroes. Hal fans could at still have THOSE stories. Folks who were fans of the Steranko SHIELD era? Not so lucky. The damage series like Original Sin and Identity Crisis do is SO much worse.

googum said...

I pretty completely agree with you: this is a solidly dumb plot because Marvel can't figure out how to have both Nick Fury's at the same time and need to phase out the old one.

But in Marvel's defense, I feel they've really tried with original Nick Fury. Aside from the Steranko classics, most of the best Fury stories have been out-of-continuity MAX stories from Garth Ennis. And I love those, and Fury's conflicted and dirty there too; but they probably sold worse than a third-tier Avengers book.

Throwing Dum Dum Dugan under the bus isn't helping, but yeah, they want to be closer to the movies.

Erich said...

Putting aside the awfulness of their treatment of Nick and Dum Dum, the whole concept of "we're the guys who secretly keep the world safe" only works in a universe where the world IS unaware of these major threats ("Men in Black," for example). To claim that this group has existed in secret in the Marvel Universe makes them seem not only corrupt, but incompetent as well.

SallyP said...

Well this is infuriating. No pun intended!

Yeah, it's bad enough killing off Nick, but retroactively making him a monster is just piling on the poop. There is a vindictiveness to it that is rather disturbing.

Dale Bagwell said...

Wow. Just wow. And now poor Dum Dum's a robot too? Damn.

Quick, but probably a dumb question;
Exactly who or what specifically is responsible for this current batch of popular writers/creators to be so damn cynical and cruel towards all of these beloved childhood heroes they claim to love and respect so much?

From Johns, Bendis and others on down, they've all seemed hell-bent to twist and corrupt their own(and ours) childhood memories. Why the zeal and delight in ruining characters like this? Doesn't make sense, other then it's proven extremely popular enough to sell.
I guess the wrong lesson learned from the 80's will just not go away.
Only a very select few like Grant Morrison, seem to steer away from all that, and actually try to bring back the older, brighter elements of that bygone era of comic story-telling. But even he's not totally immune from being edgy or shedding negative light on certain characters.

Like you said, since Sam L Fury is the preferred version of Fury now(Gee thanks Mark Millar)then just kill off or retire the real Fury,but with dignity and as a hero and move on.

Like this, there really is no coming back from this for Fury.

On the weird/oddly plus side of all this, who'd a thunk a d/z-lister like The Orb would be used so prominently right? said...

Marvel never misses an opportunity to alienate long-time readers. Sigh...

b73436f2-89b7-11e4-96ee-4345cab804f4 said...

"Like this, there really is no coming back from this for Fury."

Well, Busiek managed to bring back Tony Stark after he'd been shat upon, killed and replaced with a teenager... So maybe, someday, someone will do likewise and bring back Original Fury.