Thursday, May 4, 2017
Some few reboots ago DC launched the "New 52", fifty-two titles which each promised to revise and revive the familiar icons of the DC Universe. It worked and it didn't (like nearly all reboots) in that it created an enormous buzz and interest but eventually gave way to more traditional variations on the classic heroes in subsequent reboots of the line. After a time you get fuzzy about where the characters are from and when you follow such things almost by proxy in the free comics press, it's even more difficult.
Now of all the fifty-two series DC launched, one that attracted me at the time was OMAC, a recreation of the classic Jack Kirby series near the end of his tenure at the company in the early 70's. I didn't get an issue at the time, though I remember fondling a few on the stands to get a gander at Giffen's artwork. The other day I found the collected series called "OMACtivate" for a mere five bucks, only a few dimes more than a single issue and it seemed foolhardy not to relent and get a good taste.
The OMAC series has been revised and woven into the larger DC tapestry a few different times in a few different ways over the years. John Byrne did a decent job of it in a somber four-issue event way back in the early 90's.
The OMAC concept was adapted into the background (and eventually foreground) of the DCU in the early parts of this century when Brother Eye was re-imagined as a malicious force.
A little of all of those iterations seem to be part of the heady brew with Dan Didio, Keith Giffen and Scott Koblish offer up in 2011. We meet (sort of) Kevin Kho who has been transformed into O.M.A.C. (One-Machine Attack Contruct) by the orbital computer Brother Eye. In his first battle he confronts the deadly creations of the Cadmus Laboratory run by Mokkari who seems affiliated with the corrupt Checkmate organization. All of it offers up echoes of DC Comics gone by and I'm not as steeped in that lore as many I'm sure.
The haples Kevin is whisked around the country by Brother Eye to confront and recruit other super-powered creatures such as Amazing Man (Absorbing Man by another name) and ends up battling agents like Sarge Steel and others from Checkmate which is run by a ruthless Max Lord.
He finds himself in prison and up against Psi-Fi Man, a powerful psychic with power-hungry tendencies. I get the sense more would've come of this relationship had the series lasted longer.
Even Kevin gets back home to his job at Cadmus Labs no less, he is hunted by Mokkari's deadly creations.
They even recruit other "New 52" creations such as Frankenstein of the SHADE organization to seek out and neutralize OMAC.
They have a nifty cross-over (I guess) but sadly DC didn't think it necessary to include the Frankenstein part of the crossover in the collection I picked up. That's a bit frustrating to say the least, but still I don't see getting the rest of the story unless I find an equally alluring deal.
Things seem to take a more Apokalyptian character when an assassin named Sweet Liliani comes to confront OMAC for someone dubbed "Granny".
And we get a hit of Kirby's Kamandi when OMAC finds intelligent zoo animals including one named Prince Tuftan which are the products of Simyan's Evil Factory.
The series wraps up with a story narrated by Kevin Khu and we learn more about his heritage and history. The series ended sooner than DC would've preferred but they apparently had sufficient lead time to craft what is something of a proper ending for such a tale.
If you find it, OMACtivate is a passingly entertaining read with nifty echoes of classic Kirby DC creations sprinkled throughout. There's a real gas to finding so many familiar faces realized in new fashion by craftsman of Giffen's quality. But ultimately this series is handsome with lush highly kinetic artwork but a story which seems to be slightly less than the sum of its heady parts.