When The Watcher Does More Than Watch
Uatu doesn’t always sit on the sidelines, especially when the Multiverse is on the line!
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Ever since his debut in FANTASTIC FOUR (1961) #13, Uatu the Watcher has observed everything that has happened in the Marvel Universe at a careful distance. Even the Multiverse stories of WHAT IF? (1977) fall under the Watcher’s relentless gaze. Like the rest of his cosmic race, the Watcher is forbidden from directly interfering in the events of other species. But unlike his Watcher brothers and sisters, Uatu has had extreme difficulty keeping that oath.
ORIGINAL SIN (2014) #0 shed some light on Uatu’s motivations. In fact, his life is directly tied to the event that forced the Watchers to take a non-interference vow. It was Uatu’s father, Ikor, who convinced the Watchers that they had an obligation to help the younger species of the universe live up to their potential. Uatu’s people embraced that ideal, and helped the natives of Prosilicus by introducing technology that was several thousands of years ahead of their time. However, Prosilicus was destroyed by its people when they used that technology to make war on each other.
In the face of their failure, the Watchers swore to never again interfere in the affairs of others. And while that edict was made to prevent another senseless tragedy, Uatu’s actions have often saved the universe and the Multiverse. Regardless, Uatu’s loose interpretation of the rules has at times left him a pariah among his people.
Through the vast library of Marvel Unlimited, we’re taking a look back at some of the most memorable times when the Watcher couldn’t simply sit back and do nothing.
THE COMING OF GALACTUS (FANTASTIC FOUR #48-50)
When Galactus came to Earth, Uatu really went out of his way to ensure humanity’s survival. First, Uatu tried to hide Earth from the Silver Surfer behind an illusion of atmospheric disasters. He also took the unusual step of directly warning the Fantastic Four that they had to prevent Silver Surfer from summoning his master, Galactus.
Uatu didn’t back down when Galactus arrived. Instead, he sent the Human Torch on a mission to retrieve the Ultimate Nullifier, a weapon of unimaginable power, from Galactus’ ship. Galactus was horrified when the FF threatened to use the Ultimate Nullifier against him. That’s why Galactus withdrew from Earth without devouring the planet to satisfy his hunger.
THE TRIAL OF THE WATCHER (CAPTAIN MARVEL #39)
You may have noticed that the Watcher helps out the FF a lot. That fact didn’t escape the attention of Uatu’s fellow Watchers. That’s why they placed their brother on trial for his constant interference. Only Mar-Vell and Rick Jones spoke out in Uatu’s defense, but they also influenced a young Watcher to follow their example.
In the end, Uatu was contrite about his shortcomings and he vowed that his days of interfering in Earth’s affairs would come to an end. Uatu’s people accepted him at his word and they allowed him to remain free in his post. But it was an oath that Uatu would eventually break again and again...
LAWYER UP (FANTASTIC FOUR #262)
During Galactus’ incursion to Earth in FANTASTIC FOUR (1961) #243-244, the FF and other heroes defeated the Devourer of Worlds once again. Galactus was left in such a desolate state that he could have died. However, Mister Fantastic went above and beyond the call of duty by saving Galactus’ life. When the other alien races discovered Reed Richards’ actions, they placed him on trial for his life in issue #262.
Rather than let Reed twist in the wind, Uatu acted as his lawyer in the proceedings. Uatu was also able to convince the assembled galactic powers that Reed’s course of action was justified because Galactus serves a greater purpose in the universe.
CONVENIENT TIMING (FANTASTIC FOUR ANNUAL #22)
The original Baxter Building was destroyed in FANTASTIC FOUR (1961) #278, thanks to Kristoff Vernard, the young boy who tragically believed that he was the real Doctor Doom. While the FF believed that their personal belongings were gone forever, they inexplicably returned to their new home in FANTASTIC FOUR ANNUAL #22. Reed and Sue Richards soon learned that the Watcher had transported their things out of the Baxter Building before its destruction.
Uatu claimed that he was only “studying” the FF’s belongings and he was unable to return them until shortly before Reed and Sue arrived at his lair. Reed didn’t question Uatu’s explanation, but Sue admonished her husband to make him realize that Uatu acted because he likes the FF. This was his way of doing them a favor.
WHAT IF THE WATCHER SAVED THE UNIVERSE? (WHAT IF? #35-39)
This should sound familiar to many fans, but an unlikely team of heroes and villains were summoned to save the Multiverse from an extremely dangerous turn of events. Somehow, the future Kang named Immortus manipulated several timelines, which allowed him to erase the Time-Keepers from existence. This also gave Immortus the ultimate power to rewrite all of reality as he saw fit.
Uatu was brought into the Time Variance Authority as an advisor, and briefly released from his non-interference vow. It was Uatu’s suggestion to approach a young Nathaniel Richards before he could become Kang or Immortus, and convince him to be inoculated against the nexus power that Immortus wielded. It took a non-powered FF team to reach Nathaniel and prevent a catastrophe. And yet the Multiverse would have fallen if the Watcher had not directly influenced this outcome.
THE WATCHER VS. THE WATCHER! (FANTASTIC FOUR #400)
Not every Watcher shares Uatu’s benevolent motivations. Uatu’s nephew, Aron, initially wanted to follow in his uncle’s footsteps. But when the Celestials threatened to wipe out the entire race of Watchers, Aron became the Rogue Watcher and devoted himself to surviving at all costs. Aron tried to turn the Milky Way Galaxy into his own pocket universe to escape the fate of his people.
After the FF were able to prevent the Celestials from following through on their judgment, Uatu took matters into his own hands and fought Aron. Uatu prevailed, and transformed Aron into living energy. The other Watchers swiftly exiled Uatu and stripped him of his position. Yet the Watcher was only absent from his duties for a short time before he was reinstated.
THERE WILL BE A RECKONING! (FANTASTIC FOUR #25)
In the wake of Uatu’s death in the ORIGINAL SIN event, Nick Fury was punished by the Watcher’s people. Because Fury killed Uatu, he was forced to become the Unseen and serve as the Watcher’s replacement on Earth. But in the aftermath of EMPYRE, the Unseen realized that there was another player behind the Cotati’s warlike aggression. He also recognized that the Cotati’s weapons were created by “the first race.” At that moment, Uatu resurrected himself and got caught up on what he had missed since his death.
To prepare for the war ahead, Uatu transformed the Unseen back into Nick Fury so he could become the Watcher’s herald in FANTASTIC FOUR: THE RECKONING WAR (2022), a comic story we’ll see play out next year!
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