Saturday, January 3, 2015
OMAC #1 - The World That's Coming!
OMAC Vol.1 #1 is dated October, 1974. Created, written and penciled by Jack "King" Kirby, this is the last series he would create to fulfill his contract with DC Comics, the tectonic contract that rocked the comics world some few years before when the architect of most of the Marvel Universe shifted his attention to new epic creations. The debut story is inked by Mike Royer.
The story begins at its climax with the spectacular splash page featuring the enigmatic "Lila", a product of the "Build-a-Friend" program.
In the two-page splash that follows we meet OMAC for the first time in the story as he storms the factory which is making and shipping "women". It's one of the most bizarre and unsettling images ever concocted by Kirby and lingers in my mind to this day.
We see the end of Lila and her fellow creations in a fantastically dramatic explosion created by OMAC as he fulfills his mission.
We first meet OMAC before his tranformation when he's merely "Buddy Blank" a small timid man who works for the Pseudo-People Corporation and is picked on by his co-workers and demeaned by his boss who orders him to rid himself of his feelings of persecution by visiting rooms in which stress is released by unleashing dangerous emotions such as anger and grief. He has been hand-picked by the GPA (Global Peace Agency) which uses faceless operators from across the world to become the subject of Professor Myron Forest's great project which includes a secret orbiting satellite called "Brother Eye".
Unfulfilled by his time in the emotion rooms, Buddy encounters his friend "Lila" (who we already know to be an android) and follows her and her handlers into the secret basement of the company where clandestine criminal activity is bristling. It seems the pseudo-people are sometimes sent to unsuspecting customers with bombs in them and murder for hire is a sideline of the firm.
Suddenly Buddy is charged from above by Brother Eye and becomes OMAC (One-Man Army Corp) for the first time. He attacks the thugs who guard this racket and as we've already seen destroys the factory.
As the story ends we OMAC learns of his secret partner Brother Eye and of his new mission to seek out those behind the murder plot he's just ended, Mister Big.
OMAC is a project which had been in Kirby's noggin for some time, even before his DC days when he first imagined a Captain America of the future. Nothing came of it at Marvel so he dusted off the concept and reworked it for his DC finale. It's a short but memorable addition to his DC legacy and has become a highly useful part of the greater DC universe after the King's departure, as was the case with nearly all his creations. Many a modern "great" got his spurs revisiting Kirby's bright ideas.
The future we see is a rather grim one, with an Orwellian spin of powerful corporations and ultra-rich criminals who plague a world which must defend itself on a global basis. Trilateral Commission fanatics must see their nightmares made vivid by the GPA, a gang of faceless agents from a multitude of countries who fight the criminal capitalists who have taken control of a world which can no longer stand for large armies for dread of nuclear devastation. I'm reminded of the modern way in which relatively small teams of elite commandos wage the "Long War" against terrorism, effective when large armies actually might do more harm than good, despite what John McCain might say.
Buddy Blank's world is also one in which human contact seems to have been minimized and reliance on technology seems paramount. Certainly our modern culture which chokes everyday on the glut of social media can find some footing in Kirby's nightmare future. (Glad to add my woeful dollop to the morass by the way.)
OMAC was the last but still potent.
More to come tomorrow.