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.

OMAC Attack

4:00:34 am

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?