Warning: contains spoilers for Dark Ages #1!
Marvel’s Uatu the Watcher has potentially doomed the Earth – all because he’s terrible at his job. The Watcher has sworn never to interfere in human affairs, but he’s memorably broken his vow time and time again, all to protect the planet that he observes. Now in Marvel’s new Dark Ages series, the Watcher’s actions have led directly to the apocalypse.
In Dark Ages, Spider-Man is attempting to pry his daughter (who has inherited his powers) off the ceiling when their Spider-Senses alert them both to terrible danger. Elsewhere, the telepaths of the X-Men (Charles Xavier and Jean Grey) sense an incredibly powerful mind at work). Tremors shake New York, and the Fantastic Four are about to head into battle with whatever power threatens the city when the Watcher appears before them. He warns that the team has literal hours before the Earth is destroyed.
Ten billion years ago, a living machine called the Unmaker was created to protect to stop entropy – the heat death of the universe – by devouring black holes. Consuming too much darkness corrupted the Unmaker, and it began to “unmake” everything before the Living Tribunal shut it down and buried it deep beneath the Earth. Now the Unmaker has awakened again and threatens to devour the entire planet. This threat was ever-present…yet only now does the Watcher appear.
Marvel Comics fans are keenly aware of the Watcher’s vow to never interfere with earthly matters – and they’re also aware of the Watcher’s penchant for breaking that vow time and time again. In 1966’s The Galactus Trilogy, Uatu interferes by first hiding the Earth from Galactus, then by attempting to reason with Galactus, then by sending the Human Torch through the vastness of space to collect the one weapon that could defeat the all-powerful threat…and that’s only in three issues! He has also interfered in Secret Wars II when he aided the Molecule Man in his fight against the villainous Beyonder, Fantastic Four #262 when he came to Reed Richard’s defense when he was on trial for saving Galactus’ life, Fantastic Four #400 when he killed a fellow Watcher to save the Earth, and in many other stories. Considering all the moments in which Uatu has interfered with human history in a drastic manner, why didn’t he simply remove the Unmaker from the Earth centuries, if not millennia ago? At least that way, the interference would have been be minimal.
Uatu’s actions – or inactions – have thus doomed Earth in Dark Ages. While Doctor Strange’s eleventh-hour solution to defeating the Unmaker did plunge the world into darkness, it was the Watcher’s choices that led to the devastation in the first place. Perhaps if Uatu the Watcher appears in the series again, he could even undo the terrible damage for which he is responsible.