At first glance, the idea of needing a reading order for a character whose sole purpose is to never actually do anything might seem strange. However, as you’ll soon find out if you open almost any of Uatu’s appearances throughout Marvel history, the Watcher can’t help himself but intervene all the freaking time. Whether it’s because he cares too much about humans, or because he wants to feel like the heroes he spends all of his time observing, Uatu’s actions have influenced the fate of the Marvel universe (and even multiverse) as he has broken his oath over and over again.
Although he is known as *The* Watcher, Uatu is only one member of a civilization that has reached peak technological advances, but thinks that using their technology to help others is too dangerous and unpredictable. Because of this, they have decided that they should never interfere, and only observe this universe and the ones beyond. But despite his belonging to a living and breathing biological species whose power comes from technology, Uatu has also sometimes been written on the level of cosmic beings such as Galactus or the Living Tribunal, like in Jim Starlin’s “Infinity Saga” as well as in the recent What If…? animated series on Disney+, in which Uatu is closer to the Starlin-like extra-dimensional being than the alien presence the Watchers appeared as in their Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 cameo appearance.
When the Fantastic Four battle the Red Ghost on the Moon in Fantastic Four #13, they meet for the first time Uatu, the Watcher, who tells them he is from an incredibly powerful alien race who has vowed to only observe and never interfere with other civilizations. Uatu reappears a few issues later in Fantastic Four #20, warning the FF against the threat of the Molecule Man, because the danger is so big that it might destroy even the Watchers themselves.
In his very own “Tales of the Watcher” feature in the pages of Tales of Suspense issues #49 to #52, Uatu started presenting various sci-fi stories, as well as getting his very own stories detailing the origins of the Watchers in issues #53 to #58 :
Back to the Fantastic Four title in issue #29, Uatu guides the FF through his Moon base when they’re once again fighting the Red Ghost. He also warns the Thing and the Human Torch about the menace of Kang in Strange Tales #134, and in Fantastic Four Annual #3, he shows Reed Richards a device from his collection that can save his and Sue Storm’s wedding.
Collects: Tales to Astonish #59-79
Collects: Fantastic Four #41-50, Annual #3
One of the Watcher’s most important stories in the 1960s happens in the pages of the “Galactus Trilogy”, in Fantastic Four #48, #49 and #50 ; when he decides to interfere to try and save the Fantastic Four and the entire Earth from the Devourer of Worlds.
The Watcher continues to make sporadic appearances in the Fantastic Four title ; including in #60, in which he decides to go observe the birth of a new species instead of helping the FF against Doom ; or in #72, in which he warns the FF that the Silver Surfer is about to attack humanity.
The “Tales of the Watcher” feature is continued in 1968’s Silver Surfer #1-7, including a retelling of Uatu and his species’ origin stories in issue #1. The feature is also included in
Collects: Fantastic Four #105-116
Uatu interferes to help the Fantastic Four once again in issues #113-116, this time against the Over-Mind.
Collects: Captain Marvel #34-46
After a fight with Captain Marvel, Uatu is judged by his fellow Watchers for his tendency to interfere, and reveals that deep down, he only wants to feel like a hero akin to the ones he spends all his time observing.
Collects: What If…? #1-15, #17-22
The Watcher becomes the narrator of Marvel’s What If…? anthology series, in which each issue is a different tale of an alternate universe deviating from the main Earth-616 timeline, told by the Watcher, who observes them all.
In Uncanny X-Men #137, during the battle on the Moon between the Shi’ar Imperial Guard and the X-Men for the fate of Jean Grey, the Watcher serves as narrator and his home is visited by Wolverine.
Collects: What If? #23-47
On top of the usual What If…? stories, the Watcher also starts narrating a short-lived “Untold Tales of the Marvel Universe” feature, about the history of the Celestials, the Eternals, the Kree, and the Inhumans.
In the Christmas issue of Marvel Team-Up #127, Uatu decides to intervene to save someone’s life, admitting that during the holidays especially, he wants to reach out and be a friend to humanity.
During the trial of Reed Richards and Galactus in Fantastic Four #261 and #262, the Watcher helps organize the defense. In Fantastic Four Annual #18, he attempts to help end the Kree-Skrull war by organizing a fight between warriors Raksor and Bel-Dann on the Moon.
The Watchers make an appearance in Secret Wars II to decide whether or not they should intervene, while Uatu asks for Molecule Man’s help and assembles the cosmic entities of the Marvel universe.
In Web of Spider-Man #34, Uatu is attacked and captured by an alien named A’sai, but manages to escape by challenging him to bet on a football match between Spidey and a group of children.
In a series of uncollected issues (starting with Fantastic Four Annual #21 and continuing mostly in Fantastic Four #321–333), Uatu’s nephew Aron the Watcher decides to go against the laws of his people and starts working with the Frightful Four to defeat and clone the Fantastic Four.
Following 1988’s What If…? Special #1, the title was relaunched in 1989 and went on to last for 114 uncollected issues until 1998.
Collects: New Mutants #76, Silver Surfer Annual #2, Iron Man Annual #10, Avengers West Coast #56, Marvel Comics Presents #26, Avengers West Coast Annual #4, X-Men Annual #13, Amazing Spider-Man Annual #23, Punisher Annual #2, Spectacular Spider-Man Annual #9, Daredevil Annual #5, Avengers Annual #18, New Mutants Annual #5, X-Factor Annual #4, Web of Spider-Man Annual #5, Thor Annual #14, Fantastic Four Annual #22
During the Atlantis Attacks crossover event, the Watcher narrates a “Saga of the Serpent Crown” feature detailing the story of the macguffin the entire event revolves around.
Collects: Quasar #10-25
Quasar investigates the mysterious deaths of multiple Watchers, and the Stranger’s involvement in them.
Collects: Infinity Gauntlet #1-6
The Watcher is amongst the cosmic beings who are assembled to try and stop Thanos. He also appears alongside these very same cosmic beings in Warlock and the Infinity Watch #1.
During the “Timequake” storyline in issues #35 to #39 of the second volume of What If…?, Uatu has to team-up with the Time Variance Authority to save the multiverse from Immortus. The Watcher continued to narrate the title up until issue #76.
Aron the Watcher, Uatu’s evil nephew, is back in the uncollected Fantastic Four #369 to #375, in which he kidnaps Alicia Masters and fights the superhero team once again, forcing Uatu to intervene. Aron and Uatu reappear in issues #387 to #400, leading to a showdown involving various villains and even the Celestials.
In Adam: Legend of the Blue Marvel #3, Adam Brasheer has a discussion with Uatu on the Moon.
Collects: Hulk (2008) #25-30
Uatu is forced to team-up with Deadpool in Deadpool Team-Up #884, a comedic issue that includes an appearance by his subordinate, the Assistant Watcher.
Collects: Nova (2013) #1-5
Sam Alexander, the new Nova, meets Uatu and gives him the Ultimate Nullifier.
Collects: Nova (2013) #6-10
Sam goes to Uatu to vent about his problems.
Collects: FF #9-16
Uatu and his wife Ulana are caught in the middle of the fight between the FF and Doctor Doom. The story’s conclusion crosses over with Fantastic Four #16, in which Uatu and Reed Richards have a conversation about life and family, and we learn that Ulana is pregnant.
In All-New X-Men #25, the Watcher visits Beast to tell him how much he sucks. Because someone had to.
Collects: Point One #1, Original Sin #0-8
The Watcher has been murdered, and his eyes stolen. Although he spends most of the event as a dead body, Uatu is at the very center of Original Sin, as the event marks the end of an era and the beginning of a new one for the Watcher, with Nick Fury taking over his duty under the name of the Unseen.
Collects: Nova (2013) #17-22
Nova finds the Watcher’s corpse.
After Original Sin begins a period of a few years during which Nick Fury replaces Uatu. In Silver Surfer #5, the Unseen meets the Surfer, who tries to avenge Uatu by attacking him. In Black Widow #10, Natasha and Bucky meet their old boss for the first time since his recent transformation.
Collects: The Unworthy Thor #1-5
The Unseen tells Odinson about the Ultimate Thor’s hammer.
Collects: Exiles (2018) #1-6
To save the multiverse, the Unseen assembles a team of heroes from various timelines, an action that causes him to come into conflict with the Watchers.
Collects: Exiles (2018) #7-12
Collects: Cosmic Ghost Rider Destroys Marvel History #1-6
In this flashback to a time when the Cosmic Ghost Rider messed up the timeline, we see the Watcher forced to use the Infinity Gauntlet in order to fix reality.
In Avengers #36, the Unseen intervenes during a fight between Moon Knight and Black Panther on the Moon.
In Empyre: Fallout Fantastic Four #1, the Unseen observes the aftermath of the event, and witnesses the return of Uatu. This storyline is continued in Fantastic Four #25, where Uatu rebuilds his home, and makes the Unseen into his Herald to prepare him for Dan Slott’s upcoming Reckoning War event.
Collects: Symbiote Spider-Man: King In Black #1-5
Uatu is captured by Kang the Conqueror, who is trying to stop the King in Black.