For the past 15 years or so I’ve felt this weird connection to Jack “The King” Kirby. It’s not because I was a huge fan of his work (I think the only copies of his books I owned prior to last year were some of his Topps Comics stuff), but because he passed away on my birthday back in 1994. I was around 11 at the time and had only been reading comics for a few years, but I remember feeling really weird about that.
Anyway, fast forward to last year and I finally found myself reading some of Jack’s work for the first time. But it wasn’t the Marvel stuff I had heard about since I started reading comics, it was the at-one-time-less-known New Gods stuff. The Jack Kirby Fourth World Omnibuses blew me away and once I’m through reading them, I’ll probably post something on here about them, but for now you’ll have to settle for an OMAC review.
Jack Kirby’s OMAC: One Man Army Corps
Written, drawn & edited by Jack Kirby
Starring OMAC, Buddy Blank
This book came out a few weeks ago and boy is it a great read. Weird, but great. Probably the most interesting aspect of the whole thing was mentioned in the intro by Mark Evanier. According to Mark, the concept of OMAC (a One Man Army Corps in the future) started life as a Captain America story. Can you imagine? Just think about it for a second.
Anyway, on to the story. Most of you have probably heard of OMACs by now. The latest version played a prominent role in DC’s Infinite Crisis. In that continuity they’re hapless people who were infected with a technovirus that lets a satellite called Brother-I turn them into superhero killers. But in Kirby’s world, OMAC was designed as a hero for the people in “the world that’s coming.”
Which brings us to Buddy Blank, a regular dude who works for Build-A-Friend until he’s selected by the faceless Peace Agency to become the One Man Army Corps. When OMAC takes over, Buddy disappears, but does return later on in the series.
Over the next 8 issues, Kirby throws OMAC against everything from a rented city of assassins trying to kill him, a giant spider-like monster, future gangsters, a vast cloning ring, a mad scientist stealing the Earth’s water and more. Kirby’s wild pencils really bring these out-there concepts to life, punching you in the eyes with incredibly crisp pencils.
The main problem with the book is that there isn’t much of a conclusion. Like a lot of Kirby’s DC work (from what I hear), OMAC got cut short because he was moving back to Marvel and DC didn’t want to put anyone else on the book (hence the Joe Kubert cover to #8). Because of this, the obviously-planned-as-a-cliffhanger ending to #8 got a new non-Kirby panel drawn to try and wrap-up the series (which doesn’t really succeed).
That being said, this book is completely worth it. If you’ve never read any Kirby, this is a great representation of his wild and wacky DC work. Want to pick up the Fourth World books, but don’t know if you’ll like them? I think if you like OMAC, you’ll like the Fourth World stuff, so this is a pretty good measuring stick for $24.95 (or less depending on which websites you shop at).
Personally, I’m hoping to see the rest of Kirby’s DC work collecting in a similar format to this and the Fourth World Omnibuses. Maybe a Sandman book? Or even a re-packaging of the Kamandi Archive Editions in this Omnibus format. What do you say DC? What are the odds?