As anyone familiar with the Marvel Universe knows, the omniscient beings known as the Watchers are forbidden from interfering with the events of the timelines that they observe, tasked only with, well, watching and recording all of time as it unfolds around them.
However, as fans also know, Uatu, the most famous of the Watchers, has often broken this vow – most notably way back in 1966’s Fantastic Four #48 (opens in new tab), in which the first arrival of Galactus on Earth prompts Uatu to aid the Fantastic Four and subtly manipulate other events to ensure that the FF can defeat Galactus and save the Earth.
But March 16’s Reckoning War: The Trial of the Watcher (opens in new tab) from writer Dan Slott and artist Javier Rodriguez (which invokes the classic FF story titles ‘The Trial of Reed Richards (opens in new tab)‘ and ‘The Trial of Galactus (opens in new tab)‘) reveals that Uatu’s interference had consequences far beyond what he and the rest of the Marvel Universe have always known, and shows that, in a way, Uatu’s interference actually doomed the Marvel 616 reality.
Uatu’s father Ikor and the other Watchers take Uatu prisoner over his repeated violations of his oath of non-intervention. Uatu protests his trial, saying that the Watchers must defeat the Reckoning, the eponymous villains of ‘Reckoning War’ who were once given advanced technology by the Watchers, which they abused for conquest. This betrayal is what led to the Watchers’ cultural oath of non-interference in mortal affairs.
Uatu is strapped into a chair in the chamber where Watchers observe alt-realities (AKA the stories of What If..?) and is forced to watch the events of a reality where he never interfered with stopping Galactus, which causes Uatu’s own personal reckoning as he comes to see that the Fantastic Four would have defeated Galactus even without his meddling.
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And, what’s more, though the FF would all have been irreparably harmed by their fight with Galactus – with Johnny burning most of his body, Ben’s rocky shell cracking, Sue going blind, and part of Reed’s body literally melting – the machine Reed would have invented to defeat Galactus would have also provided clean energy solutions that would have revolutionized the world into a peaceful utopia far beyond the concern of supervillain attacks.
In other words, Uatu’s interference inadvertently prevented the development of a much cleaner, kinder, safer Marvel 616 Universe – a fact which Uatu is sentenced to repeatedly observe for the rest of eternity.
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But as Uatu is apparently locked away forever, the rest of the Watchers secretly acknowledge his rightness about their responsibility in defeating the returning forces of the Reckoning, though they agree once again they must not act.
Still, one lone figure, observing from the shadows, seems to have a plan in mind – none other than Nick Fury Sr., the so-called ‘Unseen’ servant of Uatu, who was recruited into service preventing existential threats way back in the story Original Sin (opens in new tab).
‘The Reckoning War’ storyline continues in April 6’s Fantastic Four #42 (opens in new tab).
The story of the original arrival of Galactus is among the best Fantastic Four stories ever.