OMAC: The World That Is Already Here

OMAC isn’t my favorite Kirby comic but like pretty much every Kirby comic there are some great ideas behind it. I mean we get exposed to these big ideas from the start – the big government Global Peace Agency with the masked agents so they could be anyone of any race from anywhere – that idea is amazingly progressive! The idea that these people fight threats to the rest of society without fighting – following the idea of peace – so what do they do then?

They get Buddy Blank and turn him into OMAC, the One Man Army Corp to fight where they can’t. A man with the strength of one hundred men – until he needs more! And then Brother Eye will just beam him code and rays to reunite his genetics! One man to take down armies of explosive couples, to stop cities where the rich literally can rent them out and to save the lives of people who’d be turned into meat suits for those who can afford it.

And yet, instead of just turning OMAC onto missions, the GPA gives him a family – one designed for him through tests that are more telling of the future than most comics. They give OMAC a voice and intellect! He’s a give star general, he’s intelligent and he is in control. He isn’t mindlessly following order and all the while the satellite Brother Eye watches over him. This is a world we could see in the future where one man armies protect us instead of sacrificing lives. When the divide between the rich and the poor leads to entire oceans being stolen. When genetic transformations are used to turn exes into monsters.

Those make for some great comics and all of that happened in 8 issues! So I’d heard good things about Dan Didio’s OMAC update, I decided to get the book on sale and I got disappointed pretty quickly. The comic isn’t horrible but it is disappointing, lifeless and somehow between the explosions, there isn’t any truth behind the comics.

OMAC isn’t doing what he’d done before. Gone was the One Man Army Corp, replaced with the One-Machine Attack Construct – cyber blue skin replacing that of man to make him more of the digital machine he was. Gone was the world to come – this was the world we’d never reach with superheroes and technology that could never become part of our life. Gone was the Global Peace Agency – instead Brother Eye was now a rogue satellite bent on fighting Cadmus for it’s own reasons, neither good or bad ultimately. Now Brother Eye dragged OMAC/Kevin Kho across the country, tossing him into situations without any warning. This wasn’t justice as far as I could see, this was a robot forcing a man into his petty war without reasons. And seriously – if you are going to be fighting a giant sky satellite, tell Superman (who shows up for some reason) to just punch it from the sky!

And now I am a big fan of Jack Kirby. I’m bringing this up because I honestly believe Dan Didio likes Jack Kirby. If we met, we could talk about our favorite moments in his comics and we’d have a great time. I don’t think he honestly understands Kirby though, he doesn’t get why Kirby put in his ideas, he doesn’t get pushing comics beyond basic good and evil and he doesn’t seem to get the soul of the character.

OMAC is littered with Kirby comic references – they types of things that would be fantastic if they were easter eggs in films are tossed in recklessly and relentlessly. Why is Cadmus working with Dubbilex, the alien from Kirby’s Jimmy Olsen run, Mokkari the geneticist from Apokolips and even the Build-A-Friend from the original OMAC. The Build-A-Friend which is no longer a friend, the tie that had made Buddy Blank originally keep going in his life as a loser, is now in no way a friend, in no way a tool – just a mindless reference tossed in with a machine guns. When Lashina appeared as “Sweet Leilani” in a single panel she ends up referencing her Granny, the Female Furies and “that black-haired bitch that leads us” aka Big Barda, it almost got too much. And then they went to the zoo and pulled in new teen hearthrob of Kirby’s Kamandi, Tuftan the Prince of the Tiger Men. A randomly genetically altered tiger – I don’t recall an explanation for why there were free roaming animals before “Command D” showed up to get killed by his son, Tuftan and … god.

The threats in the series come without reason. There is no character in OMAC besides the random lines he repeats like a parrot. Kevin Kho’s one chapter where he gets backstory is blindly plastered over an action scene. The 4th World stuff is building up along with references to the old continuity that can be painful to fans of the classic stuff and just confusing to the new readers. When the third issue lauds the return of Maxwell Lord – how are new readers supposed to know who he is? What has he done? It is just reducing the world that is to come into a world that is a cumshot. Brief pleasure but no love or life behind the strang and durm.

The series ends with Kevin Kho’s sentience overrunning OMAC’s body and Kho resolving himself to do his duty, not even fighting for love, not even being a man. This isn’t even poetic. Kirby ended his run with Brother Eye encased in stone above Earth and the island OMAC was fighting on destroyed in an explosion what OMAC was simply Buddy Blake.

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