Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Javier Rodriguez
Cover Artist: Javier Rodriguez
Publisher: Marvel Comics
The Reckoning War has begun! An ancient alien species once uplifted by the Watchers and defeated eons ago has returned to plunge the Universe into a state of total war to reap their revenge. Earth’s Watcher Uatu sent out a summons to his people to break their great oath and stop the Reckoning, but his people have different plans. Now, Uatu faces judgement by his people for breaking the Watchers’ oath in Reckoning War: Trial of The Watcher #1!
So, this is one of those comic books where you don’t exactly get what it says on the cover, but you get something. Previously, Uatu tried to sway his people to break their great oath of non-interference and take action to stop the Reckoning. However, his people have decided instead to finally hold Uatu accountable for breaking the Watchers’ oath many times prior. Of course, they decide to do this when the cosmos is on fire. Fair warning: there will be Spoilers peppered here and there throughout the review.
The thing is, there is really no trial whatsoever, the title is misleading. In fact, this comic is pretty much a “What If” story in disguise as you can tell by the preview images. Essentially, Uatu’s father and the Watchers’ council already decided the proper punishment for him: to witness the one “What If” he never chose to see, Clockwork Orange-style. What if Uatu never warned Earth or the Fantastic Four about the coming of Galactus? Sounds like a pretty good idea for a standalone “What If” story to be honest, and I would pay to see that made.
The thing is, that’s not entirely what you get here. Yes, the comic does partially deliver a cool story about the FF facing Galactus and the Silver Surfer without The Watcher’s warning, and it’s fairly decent. In fact, at multiple times the comic delivers on what a Fantastic Four story like this would be like if it was written back in the sixties and seventies.
Slott nails down the characterization of the entire team back then, from Mr. Fantastic to Sue, Johnny, and the ever-loving Thing. Everyone here gets their time to shine as the heroes work with other key Marvel characters to thwart Galactus’ attempt to consume the Earth. The art and colors by Javier Rodriguez also helps sell the vibrant imagery, colors, designs, and action in this comic as if it were a visual remake of the original Galactus story.
So, with all of that praise, there are certainly cons here. The story is far from perfect, there are certainly holes to poked in this story by Slott, and even the ending feels somewhat cheap. There’s a method to the madness as to how the FF figure out to defeat Galactus, but it doesn’t feel entirely believable in the context of the Marvel universe and feels artificial in a way, and I’ll get into why I say that in the Spoilers section.
The biggest problem here is that this whole tie-in hardly contributes to the wider Reckoning War event. What’s worse is that the concept of the Watchers putting Uatu on trial for breaking their oath feels like a natural big story to tell on its own in any Fantastic Four series, instead of being crammed into an event as a side-story. So it feels like the story idea isn’t given the full attention it deserves and in all likelihood won’t be picked up again after Reckoning War is over.
Previously, I said that the story’s ending feels artificial and here’s why. The whole point of the Watchers council forcing Uatu to watch this “What If” is to show that there is a cost to his interference, but the result is pretty unbelievable even by Marvel Comics’ standards. What the comic shows is that if Uatu never warned the Earth about Galactus’ arrival, then they would’ve actually destroyed Galactus. Yes, you read that right. And on top of that, the method of how they did so would unlock the secrets to clean, free, renewable energy and pave the way for a man-made Utopia on Earth in less than a century.
Why did the story end this way? To prove that the Watcher was wrong. Ultimately, this whole “What If” was written to make Uatu look bad, at least in this instance, and show how wrong he was for interfering all these years. Now, Slott could easily counter this in the main Fantastic Four series by having the Invisible Woman or Nick Fury stand up for Uatu and say it’s all a load of balderdash, and the Watchers were wrong for doing this to him instead of helping save the Universe. But who knows, they might just simply rescue him and that’s the end of it.
Reckoning War: Trial of The Watcher #1 delivers a solid story with good, vibrant art by Javier Rodriguez. It’s too soon to tell if the story’s revelation to Uatu will have long-lasting ramifications or not for Marvel Comics. Overall, this is a sound concept for an official “What If” story, and it feels like it should’ve been its own comic book instead of as a tie-in to the Reckoning War so the idea could be explored in greater detail.