Who Are the Watchers?
Get to know the cosmic figures seen in this week's 'Exiles' #12!
Every Friday, we use the powers of Marvel Unlimited to look back at the most notable appearances of a character that made waves this week.
The EXILES have gone up against incredible foes since the latest series launched from Saladin Ahmed and Javier Rodriguez—ranging from Surtur to the Time-Eater—but this week they faced their greatest challenge yet: the Watchers.
But who are these big-domed beings who seem to show up whenever major events start to take place?
The first documented appearance of a Watcher came in 1963's FANTASTIC FOUR #13 by the amazing architects Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. In that seminal issue, the First Family followed the Red Ghost into space where they soon found a ruined city in the Blue Area of the Moon. When the super squad started squaring off with the Ghost and his Super-Apes, the Watcher appeared to stop the fighting and give a brief recap of his origins. Naturally.
The being eventually called Uatu explained that he came from a world that was actually an enormous computer. They felt it their duty to travel the cosmos and witness the birth, evolution and destruction of entire civilizations without interfering. He broke that pact of non-interference to try and broker peace between the United States and Russia fearing that the conflict could destroy the entire world.
The Watcher named Uatu displayed great power there on the Blue Area of the Moon where he'd made his home. When Crimson Ghost got too nosey, the Watcher threatened to send him to limbo or eons into another time. Later that same year, in FANTASTIC FOUR #20, he brought the team to him in an effort to stop Molecule Man. He, of course, did something similar when Galactus came looking to chow down on Earth later on in issues #48-#50.
The Watchers also appeared in a series of stories that ran from TALES OF SUSPENSE #49-#58, in which we learned that the Watchers initially attempted to take all the knowledge they had collected and spread it around the cosmos. However, when they brought nuclear power to one planet, it soon led to nuclear war. From there, the Watchers made a vow not to interfere (a vow that the rebellious Uatu clearly struggled with).
During a run in TALES TO ASTONISH, Uatu actually brought the Hulk to his home on the moon to stop the Leader from making off with the Ultimate Machine, basically an external hard drive with all the Watchers' collective knowledge stored on it.
The Watcher also narrated various volumes of WHAT IF? where he would set up the story that had happened already as well as the difference that instigated the new tale. He also played the same part, but for laughs, in the parody mag WHA…HUH?
Other Watchers of note include Aron, the Renegade Watcher who Uatu stopped from destroying our Solar System leading to him being forced from his post (in FANTASTIC FOUR #396-#400). Another by the name of Ecce witnessed the birth of Galactus on Earth and let the awesomely powerful and potentially dangerous being live (in THOR #168-#169). A third, by the name of Ulana, appeared to be Uatu's lover (in FANTASTIC FOUR #13-#14).
During ORIGINAL SIN, it was revealed that Uatu's father gave nuclear power to that doomed civilization. As a result, he scanned limitless alternate realities in an attempt to find one where that venture led to positivity instead of death and desolation. Unfortunately, Uatu could not escape much of the same for himself as he first had one of his eyes ripped out by villains and then died in an act of self defense performed by Nick Fury. With the Watcher gone, Fury took over as a chained being called the Unseen.
In his new capacity, Fury witnessed alternate realities in recent WHAT IF? one-shots, attempted to help Thor Odinson find a new hammer in THE UNWORTHY THOR and even set Blink up at the beginning of this EXILES series. However, that last move did not sit well with the other Watchers, leading directly into the team's conflict with that group! To see how it all plays out, snag EXILES #12 right now by Ahmed and Rodriguez!
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