Uatu on the cover of Fantastic Four #48 (1966).
Art by Jack Kirby and Joe Sinnott.
|First appearance||The Fantastic Four #13 (April 1963)|
|Created by||Stan Lee
|Notable aliases||The Watcher|
|Abilities||Vast cosmic powers
Superhuman intelligence and scientific knowledge beyond Earth measuring
Uatu, often simply known as The Watcher, is a fictional character that appears in comic books published by Marvel Comics. Created by writer Stan Lee and designed by artist Jack Kirby, he first appeared in The Fantastic Four #13 (April 1963).
He is a member of the Watchers, an extraterrestrial species who in the distant past stationed themselves across space to monitor the activities of other species. Uatu is the Watcher assigned to observe Earth and its solar system.
The character first appeared without a name in Fantastic Four #13 (Apr 1963), and periodically reappeared in that title. His origin was revealed in Tales of Suspense #52-53 (Apr-May 1964), and his name was revealed in Captain Marvel vol 1 #39 (Jul 1975).
The character has made many cameo appearances across the Marvel Universe since his debut, including Avengers,Uncanny X-Men,Hulk,Silver Surfer, Quasar, and Marvel Point One. He acts as the narrator in Marvel's What If? title.
Fictional character biography
The Watchers are an advanced civilization which sought to spread its knowledge to other races. Their first attempt, on the planet Prosilicus, included sharing nuclear technology. When the Watchers returned to Prosilicus, they found the natives had nearly destroyed themselves in a nuclear war. The survivors blamed the Watchers for the catastrophe, causing them to take a vow never to interfere with other civilizations. Now the Watchers record events for those who will come after the universe ends.
Uatu is the Watcher assigned to watch over Earth from his home in the Blue Area of the Moon. He is an altruist and has bent or violated his oath on numerous occasions in order to aid humanity. He revealed himself to the Fantastic Four when they discovered his home, telling them he would leave the Moon to observe humanity from a more distant area. He proceeeded to violate his oath several more times to aid the Fantastic Four. His most notable transgression was in Fantastic Four #48, in which he tried, and failed, to prevent the Silver Surfer from bringing the world-devourer Galactus to the Earth.
For his continuous disregard for the Watchers' mission, Uatu is once placed on trial by the Watchers. He is found guilty, but is released on his own recognizance.
When the Shi'ar seek to prosecute Mister Fantastic for saving Galactus' life, Uatu serves as his lawyer. Uatu is removed from his duty as Watcher of the Earth, but he returns to observe the world he has become so fond of. Uatu is present when the Dreaming Celestial awakens, but he turns away, unwilling to watch. After scanning him, the Dreaming Celestial reveals Uatu has broken his pact of non-interference almost 400 times.
Powers and abilities
As a member of the race of Watchers, Uatu possesses vast psionic abilities which have been further developed through training. These abilities include flight, telepathy, energy-manipulation powers, power-negating force-field projection, illusion casting, the ability to psionically alter his appearance at will, and highly advanced cosmic senses allowing him to be aware of countless events of Earth. His superhumanly complex intelligence enables him to monitor activities throughout Earth's solar system simultaneously. Uatu can convert his body into an unknown form of energy while still retaining his sentience for travel through hyperspace, and then return to his physical form. Bolstered by treatment with "delta-rays", Uatu possesses virtual immortality, although he can die by losing the will to live. He has shown he is able to transport himself and others though time, and in one issue he claims he can send someone to Limbo.[volume & issue needed]
Watchers can augment their strength with cosmic psionic energy if they choose to; however, they tend to minimize their physical activities. The 1985 edition of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe compared Uatu's scale of power to that of Galactus, the Stranger, Odin, and Zeus.
Uatu received a highly extensive education in his youth on his home world. He has devoted himself to the study of Earth's solar system and its sentient beings for millions of years. His home on the Blue Area of the Moon contains an enormous array of weaponry, artifacts, and technology created by various alien races from throughout the universe.
In recent years, Uatu has undertaken the study of the Earths of alternate realities. With permission from the Timekeepers, he possesses a portal through which he can observe alternate realities. He has acquired extraordinary knowledge of the history of both the sentient beings on "mainstream" Earth and the numerous alternate Earths.
The mini-series Marvel 1602 reveals that, although The Fantastic Four #13 was the first time he broke his oath, the anomalous appearance of Marvel's superheroes more than 300 years early - speculated by Uatu to be the result of the universe trying to create the means to save itself from a temporal anomaly - forced him to severely bend it, communicating with the 1602 version of Doctor Strange prior to the latter's death, his deal with Strange preventing Strange from telling anyone else about the danger facing the world while he lived while allowing him to communicate that knowledge with others after his physical body's demise. As a result, he must maintain a pocket universe containing the 1602 world within himself, as the Overmind of the Watchers notes that, as much as they are ashamed of him, they are proud of him for saving the multiverse.[volume & issue needed]
In the alternate universe of Earth X, Uatu is portrayed as a cold, nihilistic manipulator who feels far superior to the people of earth whom he watches. This is partially because of the fact that he has been blinded by Black Bolt. Also, Uatu (who watches the events on Earth from a base on the moon) is the original inspiration for the Egyptian moon god Khonshu.[volume & issue needed]
At the end of the main story in each Marvel Apes issue, a gorilla version of the Watcher can be seen telling stories from the past and trying to get around to a story of the "Marvel Apes Age". In issue #2, he becomes drunk after drinking an "Ultimate Nullifier", which he claims is like a martini, only mixed with "Kirby Dots". In his drunken state, he complains about how boring it is to watch everything all the time. He also reveals that he is infatuated with the ape version of the Wasp. In his drunken ranting, he goes so far as to ask the reader if they "wanna make out," then after realizing what he has said, apologizes and tries to explain himself. He usually tells stories that entertain him, such as the story of giant cowboy rat men and homosexual cowboy-apes, or the story of how Odin sentenced the Thorangutang to learn humility by becoming a doctor in the upbeat, rich city of Manhattan.[volume & issue needed]
Marvel Zombies Return
A version of Uatu witnesses the Zombie Spider-Man's arrival in his universe. After being horrified by the nature of the infection, he decides to travel to other universes to warn others of the infection, but the zombie Giant-Man appears and bites off Uatu's head, planning to use his communicator to traverse the multiverse and satiate his hunger. At the end of the series, Uatu returns stating he was pure energy, and thus could not be infected by the virus. He then proceeds to trap the last zombie, the Sentry, in a time-loop paradox by sending him back in time to Earth-2149, starting the entire Marvel Zombies Saga from the beginning and keeping the zombie infection contained in these two realities so that it will 'devour itself'. He eventually congratulated the Sandman for his help.
In the alternate MC-2 Universe, Uatu made several appearances regarding its last two mini-series, Last Hero Standing and Last Planet Standing. In the former, he briefly related the history of the MC-Universe; in the latter he died while standing in the way of Galactus and his herald.[volume & issue needed]
In the Powerless limited series, reality is turned upside down and is told from the point of view of a psychiatrist called William Watts, who in the very end is revealed to be the Powerless version of the very same Uatu. Watts (whose name recalls "Uatu" and "Watcher") encounters non-powered versions of Spider-Man, Wolverine, and Daredevil, who face problems similar to their super-powered counterparts from Earth-616. Just like in Earth-616, Uatu finds that he cannot just stand by and watch as his patients' lives are ruined, and tries to come to their aid., but like his original incarnation, he never acts directly, but inspiring and guiding the heroes. He even watches the city using a telescope, before the last panel revelation that he's Uatu.
Ultimate Uatu is not a person, but rather a highly advanced alien computer that "watches" everything. Ultimate Watcher resembles a stone totem of sorts with a glowing red eye. It is able to manifest in many locations at once. It has been observing Earth for some time and was present when Captain America received his powers.
However, it appears that there is more than one Watcher in the Ultimate universe, for in Ultimate X-Men #96 Jean Grey attempts to find heaven to resurrect her father, only to be stopped by a Silver Surfer that is stationed in front of thousands of Watchers in a hive colony.[volume & issue needed]
In other media
- Uatu made two appearances in the 1967 Fantastic Four animated series, voiced by Paul Frees.
- Uatu the Watcher appeared in the "Incredible Hulk" segment of the animated series The Marvel Super Heroes.
- Uatu made a cameo appearance in the X-Men animated series, in the episode "Dark Phoenix" part 3.
- Uatu made an appearance in the 1994 Fantastic Four animated series, voiced by Alan Oppenheimer.
- Uatu made appearances on the Silver Surfer animated series, voiced by Dennis Akayama in his first appearance, and Colin Fox in his second appearance.
- Uatu appears in The Super Hero Squad Show episodes "Tremble at the Might of...MODOK" and "This Al Dente Earth" voiced by Dave Boat.
- Uatu the Watcher appears in the Robot Chicken episode "Tapping a Hero", voiced by Tom Root. In the "Superheroes Tonight" segment, Uatu is arrested for "watching" girls in a YWCA locker room.
- In the Titan Maximum episode "Dirty Lansbury", Uatu is parodied as the "Peeper" (voiced by Seth Green).
- Uatu shows up in the What If...? mode of the PlayStation Spider-Man video game, voiced by Laurence Fishburne.
- Uatu features in the Marvel: Ultimate Alliance video game, voiced by Phil LaMarr. Although retaining his vow of non-interference, he breaks this vow when Doctor Doom acquires the power of Odin, using his powers to save the heroes facing Doom and provide them with vital information about how to create a device that will enable them to draw off enough of Doom's power to defeat him.
- In Scarlet Traces: The Great Game, he is shown in a cave drawing on Mars as one of the original inhabitants of the Moon, along with the Selenites from The First Men in the Moon.
- Uatu was parodied in the webcomic PvP, coming down to Earth to observe the trial of the lawsuit put forth by Marvel Comics against the creators of City of Heroes (in a rather annoying fashion). In the end of the storyline (when the judge declares a mistrial), Uatu appears one last time to show the outcome of the case: Galactus devouring Earth.
- New Avengers: Illuminati #2 (March 2007)
- Uncanny X-Men #473
- Hulk #5 (2008)
- Quasar #30 (January 1992)
- Tales of Suspense #52-53 (April–May 1964)
- Quasar #13-16 (1989)
- The Fantastic Four #13 (April 1963)
- Fantastic Four #20 (November 1963)
- Fantastic Four Annual #3 (1965)
- Strange Tales #134
- Fantastic Four #48 (March 1966)
- Captain Marvel #39 (July 1975)
- Fantastic Four #262 (January 1984)
- Tales of Suspense #49-58
- Eternals vol. 2, #6 (January 2007)
- Eternals vol. 3, #3 (October 2008)
- Strange Tales #134
- Marvel Zombies Return #1 (November 2009)
- Marvel Zombies Return #5 (November 2009)
- Powerless #1-6 (August 2004 – January 2005)
- Ultimate Origins #1-4 (August–November 2008)
- "Marvel Super Hero Squad Voice Cast". Comics Continuum. July 28, 2009.