New 52 Trade Post: OMAC & Green Arrow

OMAC volume 1 OmactivateOMAC Volume 1: Omactivate (DC)
Written by Dan DiDio & Keith Giffen with Jeff Lemire, drawn by Giffen & Scott Kolins
Collects OMAC #1-8

Do you ever get a group of trades and pull the ones you’re least interested in to the top and read those first? I can’t say it’s something I’ve done a lot of. When I was a monthly comic reader, I’d move the books I was most excited about to the top and get to the rest later. But, I recently came into a stack of New 52 books and wanted to read a few of the more random ones first just to see how they were.

One of those books was OMAC. I wasn’t super excited about the creative team or the fact that yet another one of Jack Kirby’s creations was getting yet another make over. But you know what? I was pleasantly surprised by this series, which only lasted the 8 issues collected in this book. This new version actually stands for One-Machine Attack Construct unlike the One Man Army Corp of the original series (which I can’t believe I read three years ago at this point). Set in the new DCU, the human component this time is a scientist named Kevin who gets moved all over the chessboard by Brother Eye to do his bidding.

Basically, this whole series is a love letter to Kirby, or at least that’s how I’m looking at it. Giffen is clearly paying homage to The King’s style with his pages, all of which feature at least one of Jack’s trademarks: squared off fingers, Kirby crackle or the four panel pages he seemed to like. You could also say that some of DiDio’s story elements take their lead from Kirby’s. Not everything is explained super well and things just kind of happen, much like they did in Jack’s DC books.

I like the approach I mentioned above, but it does have its fair share of problems. There’s basically three levels you can enjoy this book on. Let’s called the homage one level. Then there’s the more basic level of a superhero smash ’em up bonanza which it definitely delivers. But, the third layer is a lot less satisfying. I mean, we’re never even told why Brother Eye chose Kevin. Worse than that, it’s never explained why Brother Eye (who annoyingly says “Eye” instead of “I”) even needs a human-hosted OMAC. Why doesn’t he just use a robot? I wish these questions had been answered in these eight issues but they weren’t. I can still enjoy the story that is told on the page, but it definitely could have been more satisfying.

KEEP/DUMP: I’m going to keep this one for now. Not sure if it’ll stay in the collection after a re-read later on down the line, though.

green arrow volume 1 midas touchGreen Arrow Volume 1: The Midas Touch (DC)
Written by Dan Jurgens, J.T. Krul & Keith Giffen, drawn by Jurgens & George Perez with Ray McCarthy & Ignacio Calero
Collects Green Arrow #-6

I fell in love with the character of Green Arrow when Kevin Smith brought him back from the dead and was on board with the series up until a few years ago when Judd Winick left Green Arrow & Black Canary. I even started collecting the previous volume by way of lots on eBay and back issues found at conventions. As such, I’m always leery when I experience a new version of the character.

I haven’t written about it much on the site, but I actually really enjoy Arrow on The CW because they gave Oliver Queen a really solid, interesting and believable back story that I can sink my teeth into and enjoy. I can’t say that’s the case for this New 52 series, though. Sure you’ve got rich Oliver Queen dressing up in a superhero costume and running around fighting supervillains, but why?

This is something that I think some of the New 52 books completely failed on and others nailed really well: the question of why this book exists. I understand that DC and Warner Bros. wanted to continue with a book that had done fairly well before the relaunch and also wanted something that eventual fans of the series could read if they were so inclined, but in the book itself, what’s the point of it existing?

Much of the plot of the first arc in this book focuses on younger supervillains who get their jollies committing crimes and sending that out over the internet for people to watch. It’s the next level up from schoolyard or bum fight vidoes in a world with super powers. For some reason, this aspect of the story never grabbed me. It didn’t feel super new (Will Pfeifer did something sort of like this in the amazing HERO). I think I didn’t care about that part of the story because I didn’t care about Ollie. Sure you see him in his civilian identity blowing off the guy who runs the larger Queen family company, but that’s not enough. This is supposed to be a brand new universe where anything can happen, you can’t rely on old stories for that, you need to put enough on front street to suck me in or get me with one crazy hook and unfortunately Green Arrow had neither of those.

It did have one issue — #6 — drawn by Ignacio Calero who looked like a more stylized JLA-era Howard Porter. I’d like to see more from him in the future.

KEEP/DUMP: This one’s going up on Sequential Swap where it will hopefully get me another book.

Books Of Oa: Blackest Night Black Lantern Corps Volume One

Blackest Night Black Lantern Corps Volume One (DC)
Written by Peter J. Tomasi, James Robinson & J.T.Krul, drawn by Ardian Syaf, Eddy Barrows, Allan Goldman & Ed Benes
Collects Blackest Night: Batman #1-3, Blackest Night: Superman #1-3 & Blackest Night: Titans #1-3

After putting quite a distance between re-reading the three main Blackest Night collections, I finally went back to check out the Blackest Night miniseries’ collected in the pages of this trade. The reason I skipped it back then was because, first off, I had just read a TON of Green Lantern comics and wanted a break, but I also didn’t really have fond memories of these tie-ins from when they originally came out.

I was less critical this time around, but I think a big part of that is that I got this trade in a Swap. I think there’s a big factor that comes in to play when you pay for something and how you wind up feeling about it. I’m more forgiving when I get something for free or super cheap.

Anyway, this book collects three BN minis that basically zero in on specific groups of characters as they experience the Black Lanterns using their dead loved ones against them basically instead of doing in-series tie-ins. This makes sense when you remember that Grant Morrison was doing his Batman thing, the whole New Krypton thing was happening in the many, many Superman books and, well, I have no recollection of what was going on with Titans, that book got BAD.

I don’t want to get too far into the details of the stories. Basically, Dick Grayson and Tim Drake’s parents come back in the Batman one, Superman and Supergirl’s dads return in the Superman one and pretty much every dead Titan pops up in the last one. The basic idea is the same: how do these heroes deal with the idea that their loved ones are back and wicked mean. Here’s the problem with the series’ though: they are completely unimportant to the larger story and wind up all being, essentially, the same story. Hero’s doing their thing, encounters a Black Lantern, wants to save deceased loved on, realizes they can’t and eventually comes up with some last ditch way of getting rid of them. It would have been fantastic if the methods used in these books wound up being important in the main series but as far as I remember that wasn’t the case.

I understand that you can’t ignore what Superman or Batman were doing during a gigantic event like this, but the real question I have — and it’s a bad one to be left with after reading a trades — is, what’s the point? For some, it’s enough to just see how those characters responded given the situation and from a very specific period of time for each of them. But, from a larger story point of view, there really is no need for any of these three miniseries’ to exist, unless you just want to see Donna Troy feel bad. Speaking of which, I know Krul came under fire for knocking off Red Arrow’s daughter, but the way he throws Donna Troy’s dead husband and baby at her is also pretty cruel. No thanks.