After reading the DC New 52 books for the first week of September, I was quite surprised at how many quality books there were. No book surprised me more than O.M.A.C. #1 written by Dan DiDio and Keith Giffen, with Giffen on pencils and Scott Koblish on inks. Based on the original O.M.A.C. (One Man Army Corps) created by Jack “The King” Kirby, the creative team for this book has garnered groans across fandom with Dan DiDio (who wrote The Outsiders into the ground) working on the writing chores in part. But despite DiDio’s dubious writing past, he and Giffen put together a highly enjoyable comic that was far and away the biggest surprise of last week—and one of the more fun books to boot. Believe me, I was astounded by this too.
The book begins at Cadmus Project where some co-workers are looking for their fellow employee Kevin Kho. Unknown to them, Kho was an ordinary man until the sentient satellite Brother Eye transformed him into O.M.A.C.: One Machine Army Corps. Now as O.M.A.C., Kho must do whatever Brother Eye tells him to and destroys anyone or anything that gets in their way.
Much of the book is just O.M.A.C. trashing, bashing and smashing up stuff while under the control of Brother Eye, and he fights some cool stuff with resounding oversized sound effects. That’s about all the premise I need to give, as that’s pretty much the book in a nutshell. But you know what? It works; quite well actually. I don’t even want to begin to describe the stuff that O.M.A.C. fights because they’re all surreal and I couldn’t do them justice. With the first issue taking place with the genetic research lab of Cadmus Project, this is to be expected, though I hope O.M.A.C. continues to fight crazy looking enemies in the future.
Yes there is a plot there too, as we learn a little about the man behind O.M.A.C., Kevin Kho but it’s anything but a long drawn out origin or an exposition fest. DiDio and Giffen provide just enough info to understand the premise and then it’s off to the races again. In fact, there’s more left untold than explained by the end of issue #1. Towards the end of the book, one gets a creepy sensation of what it would really be like if some robot satellite was turning you into a machine and making you obey its every whim. Here’s a hint: not so comforting.
In O.M.A.C. #1 Giffen and Koblish utilize a blatant Kirbyesque take for the book, and it looks pretty cool. I’m sure the style is meant as homage to Kirby and not just Giffen and Koblish being derivative. I found it to be a cool touch. Although the Kirby look overlays all of the work in subtle and not so subtle ways, Giffen is also flexing his own style and it looks really cool. Visually, it’s a feast of craziness and weirdness and lots of colorful non-stop action.
The book is a lot of fun and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, much to my surprise. O.M.A.C. #1 is definitely the sleeper hit of all the DC books of week two of the New 52. I also think it’s one of the better books as an entry level into the comics medium. I can see kids who are obsessed with video games getting into this book, as O.M.A.C. completes level like missions in surreal encounters with the bizarre while destroying all in his path in a fun, quick read. There’s no massive history to undertake, no confusing origin to understand, just out and out mayhem to enjoy. The story’s credits list the creators in the Silver Age Marvel style: “Krackling” Keith Giffen and “Daring” Dan DiDio. I thought they were being pretentious a-holes for doing that, until I finished the issue. Now I think it’s a great touch, as O.M.A.C. #1 captures the fun of those classic tales spun by Kirby and others.
Of course, the simplicity and not entirely mindless (as Brother Eye controls every move) destruction could be seen as the book’s biggest flaw. But personally, I liked it and look forward to more. Future issues look to feature O.M.A.C. and Brother Eye facing off against Amazing Man, as well as running into Sarge Steel and the Checkmate organization, now seemingly led by Maxwell Lord. It sounds promising and all the fun in #1 alone is enough to make me want to check out the next issue and put the title on my pull list. So let the DiDio haters hate: O.M.A.C. #1 is a blast. Don’t miss out on getting in on the ground floor of this one!