Saturday, April 7, 2012

52 In Review: O.M.A.C.

O.M.A.C., created by Jack Kirby, is a property DC has been trying for a long time to make work in modern comics. Perhaps because the original O.M.A.C. was so far-out there to begin with, it's always been a difficult concept to make work. Dan Didio, though, seemed to keep trying -- and I really appreciated it, as it gave us this wonderful new re-imagining of O.M.A.C. for a new generation.

When I began these reviews of the 52 books I've been reading, and giving my opinion and wether I would continue reading the series. In this case tt seems that decision was made for me - as O.M.A.C. was one of the unfortunate recipients of books at DC that where canceled. It's a real shame - this was probably one of the more creative, and visually mind-blowing books in comics today. That is in no small part due to Keith Giffen and inker Scott Koblish - who have been trying to channel the same kind of Kirby-style drawing into the book. I think he did a fantastic job, but without loosing his own creative style as well. The idea of channeling Kirby, and trying to imitate his work, seemed to strangely work out in mirroring the original O.M.A.C. series in a number of ways. For instance, the first issue has O.M.A.C. rampage and destroy Cadmus Labs was very similar to Jack Kirby's first issue, where O.M.A.C. rampaged and destroyed a factory. Even the way this series ended, on issue #8, mirrors where the old O.M.A.C. series similarly ended.

While it was a short run - the issues they did produce proved to be quite entertaining, unlike anything else on the comics market; and I hope it will at least live on as a small gem hidden among comic's canceled titles.

The basic set-up of the series involved Kevin Kho, a Bio-Tech Researcher for Cadmus Industries. Kho, while a bit skittish, has a good life with a great job - and a girlfriend, Jody Robbins.

His entire life is turned upside down when he inexplicably transforms into this monstrous red and blue creation. Once transformed the mind of Kevin Kho becomes dormant, as programming of the creature, dubbed O.M.A.C. (One Machine Attack Construct), takes over. The dialogue of O.M.A.C. isn't that good; he essentially repeats the orders he is given, and frequently yells out "I am O.M.A.C.!" While this computer-like persona makes him menacing - it leaves an absence of personality which the book might have done better to have.

The lack of a personality, though, was supplemented with the dialogue of Brother Eye - a sentient orbiting Satellite, who controls O.M.A.C. Brother Eye is methodical and manipulative - but seems to imbue a somewhat snarky personality behind his logic. This grounded Brother Eye and O.M.A.C. as a good team together.

The first issue, just like Kirby's first issue, entails destruction left and right. Kevin Transformed in the Cadmus building for the first time. Rampaging through the office building wasn't the goal; the real Cadmus is below the surface -- a mad scientist, government run-a-muck think tank, dreaming up incredibly dangerous technology and weapons.

As O.M.A.C. tears through the Cadmus Project, the villainous sadist Mokkari, one of the scientists in Project Cadmus, sends obstacle after obstacle to defeat O.M.A.C. Their main security force, lead by the DNAlien Dubbilex tries to stop O.M.A.C., and fails miserably. Little monsters, called Gobblers, are released -- a hoard of them swarm over O.M.A.C., but to no success. The female staffer working with Mokkari steps into the fray, revealing herself to be a Build-a-Friend - a weaponized android, and is also quickly defeated.

Nothing is stopping O.M.A.C. He breaks apart a machine, unleashing a wave of energy upon workers along the way.

Finally O.M.A.C. reaches his goal - the Cadmus Mainframe. Brother Eye apparently was once connected to Cadmus - but, being an evil sentient satellite, I suppose he was booted out. This entire endeavor was, through O.M.A.C., to re-establish his foothold in the Cadmus systems. Once that was completed, O.M.A.C. is teleported away.

During all of this crisis the workers of the public-face of Cadmus are waiting outside until emergency personnel tell them its safe to go back inside. All the fighting was taking place below, with Cadmus' secret installation kept under wraps. Jody, who works in the same offices along with Kevin, hasn't seen him since.

Where is Kevin now? After being teleported out of Cadmus, Brother Eye dropped him in the middle of nowhere in Texas. Kevin is in his human form again, and Brother Eye is talking to him through a PDA. He explains how Kevin was unknowingly infected with a virus, which altered his body, making it possible for him to transform into the biological and technological monster that is O.M.A.C. Kho is having none of this, tosses the PDA away, and begins to walk towards the nearest town. Reminiscent of the A.I. in 2001, Brother Eye says on the PDA "You should not have done that."

Meanwhile, another organization - linked to Cadmus - is introduced. Located in a base inside the heads of Mount Rushmore, Sergeant Steel reminds his people that Cadmus is still a part of Checkmate, and that they have to respond and send in reinforcements.

Back in Texas Kho arrives in a town and stops at a diner to rest. Before he knows it, a PDA left on the table begins talking to him. Brother Eye can speak through any device, which makes Kevin want to get out of there. Regrettably, an F.B.I. alert has gone out. The police arrive outside the diner. It isn't Kevin they are after - but rather the cook working there. This man suddenly transforms into solid rock, and begins to fight his way out of the diner. Kevin doesn't know what to do, and Brother Eye suggests he "Omactivate" - a word that will trigger his transformation into the monster. The police are getting trounced - so Kevin does transform and tackles this rock-like man. It turns out this man is named Rocker Bonn - and is actually a former member of Checkmate. They had done something to him, to make him this way; giving him the amazing ability to transform into the substance of anything he touches.

Rocker and O.M.A.C. have an epic duel of monster vs monster. Rocker angrily fights back, saying that he only wanted Checkmate and Cadmus to leave him alone. Rocker makes a fatale mistake, though -- he tries to absorb the powers of O.M.A.C. himself. Suddenly Rocker is transformed into the very same substance O.M.A.C. is made of - along with a built-in connection to Brother Eye. Apparently, when Brother Eye had connected with the Cadmus Mainframe, Rocker's location was discovered. Brother Eye thought Rocker may be of use. Now infected with the same circuitry replication of O.M.A.C., Rocker will be very easy to control. Rocker begins to dissolve into light and eventually disappears; Brother Eye putting him away until he has need of him again.

O.M.A.C. teleports away, and Kevin Kho is able to catch a bus out of town. Checking a pair of headphones reveals Brother Eye is still most definitely with him. Brother Eye, meanwhile, makes an important call into the head of Checkmate: Maxwell Lord! Brother Eyes says that Lord had imprisoned him once, and he is here to make sure that never happens again.

For those unfamiliar - Maxwell Lord is a co-creation of Keith Giffen, a businessman who bought his way into financing and managing the JLA. (Not Superman and the like; but D-List heroes like Booster Gold and the Ted Kord, aka the Blue Beetle.) He was a very funny character during that light-hearted humorous take on the League. In the past few years thing changed dramatically for Lord. He was revealed to be the head of Checkmate - and wanted to take down all the super heroes of the DCU. When the Blue Beetle tried to expose him, Lord shot Ted right through the head. Possessing limited, but extremely powerful mind-control abilities, he successfully gained control of Superman - which lead to Wonder Woman killing him to free Superman.

Since it's an all-new universe - Maxwell Lord is getting another shot. He's still the head of Checkmate, and still has mind control powers. Visually he has a new device, which many Checkmate personnel wear, with hologram displays and windows circling around his head. It's weird looking, but it looks like a cool idea. It seems here Max had helped create Brother Eye in the first place - and now the that he's broken free, Brother Eye is gunning for Checkmate and Lord.

The third issue was a really weird one. Kevin is arguing with an ATM, or more accurately with Brother Eye. He needs money to survive, but Kevin doesn't have his bank card, credit card, or wallet. Brother Eye helps out, and has the ATM spit out piles and piles of cash! This, unsurprisingly, gets the attention of a passing police vehicle, where Kho is promptly arrested. It seems Kevin is now wanted by Homeland Security, and is listed as being extremely dangerous. Kevin tries to explain but is tasered.

Jody Robbins, who has been worried about her missing boyfriend ever since the emergency at the office, suddenly gets a call. Kevin tells her that he's in jail and needs help. Their discussion doesn't go very far, as the guard cuts Kevin off - saying that his time's up, and he's not letting him activate any kind of sleeper cell on his watch. Kevin asks for a lawyer, upon which the guard tells him that he had his call. Kevin is brusquely thrown into the prison, being told to wait until he's read to see you. See who? Is the warden coming to see him? The guard happily replies while turning away "The Warden's been dead for over two months."

Soon Kevin is directed by other prisoners to go into this cell - to meet the person who wants to see him. Kevin walks in to find the most bizarre sight, of a man wearing a high-tech helmet, with people bowing below him in supplication. This bizarre man says that while the helmet he wears is heavy - it helps tune out the noise.

His name is Professor Arous, but has since been called by his cellmates as the Psi-Fi man, because of his incredible psychic abilities. Psi-Fi says he can sense the other person with Kho -- and that Brother Eye wanted to see the Psi-Fi man all along. Triggering the "Omactivate" sequence, Kevin begins to transform.

Brother Eye, though, is getting a call in from Maxwell Lord. Brother Eye tells him he has other things to focus on, tersely cutting Lord off. Lord, however, isn't making a social call - Checkmate is tracking the coordinates of the signal. They don't lead to Brother Eye (who is safely orbiting somewhere in orbit), but rather that of O.M.A.C. A team of highly trained Checkmate agents, lead by Sarge Steel, teleport - declaring "We're going monster hunting."

Kevin, now at the mercy of the Psi-Fi Man, is trapped mid-transformation. Removing his helmet Arous reveals his brain-like head. With O.M.A.C. at his mercy, Arous dives into the mental/cyber-scape that is Kevin and Brother Eye's mind. Brother Eye begins to speak, saying that he had sensed the doctor's power growing, and that he must be stopped. Arous tells Brother Eye that he has nothing to fear from him. Its not him Arous should be worried about, Brother Eye tells him, it's O.M.A.C., who has finished his transformation without the Psi-Fi Man being aware. Suddenly he's hurled across the room and out of the cell by a monstrous hand. O.M.A.C. moves in to destroy his foe. Psi-Fi Man is able to defend himself - but he catches a reprieve when the squad from Checkmate arrives.

Using a wonderfully colorful concept, called Ambient Tech, the Checkmate Agents are equipped with hard-light devices, able to form into a number of functions for the battle. Sarge Steel blasts O.M.A.C. with cannon-fire, while an over eager agent named Maribel leaps over her team-mate, Little Knipper, and strikes next. With this Ambient Tech, they are actually able to hurt O.M.A.C. Hurt him - but not stop him. O.M.A.C. swats Maribel away only to be inundated with firepower from Steel.

Finally having enough, O.M.A.C. slams the ground as hard as possible - sending the agents flying. A teleport window is created by Brother Eye, allowing O.M.A.C. to escape. All the while the Psi-Fi Man has made his escape out of the prison, and is able to steal a car from a passing motorist. The Psi-Fi Man promises to himself that he'll learn everything he can about Brother Eye, and that next time O.M.A.C. will be under his power.

What insane adventure will Brother Eye send Kho on now? Well, for the time being Brother Eye teleports Kho back to his apartment. Kevin is able to clean himself up and attempt to regain some semblance of a normal life again. He knows Jody was worried about him, and he plans on explaining things. Brother Eye sternly warns that no one must know of their arrangement. Fearing for Jody's safety, if he doesn't listen to Brother Eye, he complies.

Getting back to work is not easy. The Cadmus offices lost valuable man hours from the emergency - so under the guise of being missing because of a family emergency, Kevin is allowed to return to work since they need the man power. After a horrible day at work Kevin finally meets up with Jody. Things don't go well with her, as Kevin is either forced to lie or be evasive about what happened to him. Later while on his way home, annoyed with everything Brother Eye has done to him, Kho finds himself delighted to find the connection to Brother Eye is blocked when he enters the subway. Kevin is happy, thinking he finally doesn't have to be bossed around by that omnipresent A.I.

With Checkmate having failed in their mission at the prison, Lord is forced to contact Mokkari. Mokkari tells him he wants revenge against O.M.A.C. as much has Lord does, and has devised a plan.

A build-a-friend robot, designed as a regular woman, passes over the subway where Kevin is located. Several unique vials are surreptitiously dropped down a grate, where the vials shatter - releasing biological/ambient-light creations - which rip their way into the subway where Kevin is. In another insane and delightful concept - these monstrous alligators come looking for Kevin; but instead of heads - these gators have hard-light heads made of ambient-light.

Being underground Kevin cannot Omactivate, or call on Brother Eye for help. He can only run from the Bio-Gators. They chase him throughout the sewer.

Kevin is finally able to reach a ladder leading to manhole over, and hopes he is out of reach of the Bio-Gators. Instead they open their digital-light mouths to reveal lasers. Just as they open fire on Kevin, he's managed to get far up enough for Brother Eye to be in contact again. Brother Eye, though, is being a jerk about the situation, asking if Kevin really wants his help? Kevin hurriedly apologizes - and is then is allowed to Omactivate.

The street suddenly blows apart, as O.M.A.C. and the Bio-Gators take the fight up to the surface. Their digital hard-light heads are able to bite down and harm O.M.A.C., but he manages to smack them away. Grabbing their tails O.M.A.C. swings the Bio-Gators together, destroying them.

Mokkari has failed again, and is very very angry. Lord, though, is way ahead of him, with a new way to destroy O.M.A.C. In the spirit of inter-agency cooperation, Agent Frankenstein, of S.H.A.D.E. arrives to deal with Checkmate's problem. The reasoning being, maybe it takes a monster to stop a monster.

Issue #5 seemed like the beginning of DC's official push to experiment and encourage cross-pollination between titles. Some of it has been successful, some of it less so. Like, for instance, every issue where Batman guest starred, just to give those struggling titles a boost. The idea to have O.M.A.C. fight Frankenstein seemed like a natural outgrowth - as both titles are essentially monster titles with science run-a-muck as a central theme. Considering O.M.A.C. got canceled after 8 issues, I think maybe having Batman guest star might had been better. (Sales-wise, at least.)

The fight between O.M.A.C. and Frankenstein is pretty simple - and largely was more a display of action than plot. It did, however, allow Keith Giffen to run wild, with splash-pages and wall-to-wall action, giving us an honest-and-true comic book slugfest, which is sometimes rare in comics these days. So this change of pace was appreciated. I do feel, though, that the fight - re-done from Frankenstein's point of view in his own issue #5, was better done and had more emotional weight to the action. (You can see what I have to say about O.M.A.C. in my Frankenstein review.)

In-between the action Father Time (leader of S.H.A.D.E., and who's now in the form of a little asian girl), engages in a fight of a different sort - against Brother Eye. For Father Time, this in fact may be the whole reason for the fight with O.M.A.C. in the first place. Brother Eye is not going to be taken unaware, and fights back. Brother Eyes escapes unharmed - and in later issues of Frankenstein, we find out that sneaky satellite managed to put a virus into S.H.A.D.E. Net, corrupting their systems later on.

The fight between O.M.A.C. and Frankenstein becomes more and more brutal. Brother Eye is forced to teleport O.M.A.C. out of the situation entirely, before Frankenstein was able to chop off his head. When teleporting, Frankenstein was grabbing onto O.M.A.C., and subsequently got his arm cut off! When Kho wakes up in the bathroom stall at work, Frankenstein's dismembered right arm is still with him.

The issue ends with an ominous prelude, showing Mokkari speaking with a shaded individual on a screen. Mokkari mentions a "Zero Patient", a new weapon against their foes. The shadowed person is recognizable enough, - it's Desaad, from Apokolips. This series takes place in the present day DCU - so first contact with Apokolips, as seen in the pages of Justice League, have already occurred. Where the the DCU stands, with regards to the New Gods and Apokolips, is anybody's guess. Yet Mokkari makes a telling statement - that with the fall of O.M.A.C. and Brother Eye, "the Genesis technology will be ours!" Cyborg, in Justice League, has already shown that the government has found and is using New Gods technology - so it isn't that much of a stretch to connect O.M.A.C. and Brother Eye to the same technology.

That one scene, while small, gave way to a wealth of speculation on the reader's part. Is the war between Apokolips and New Genesis going to take place on Earth? Is Mokkari's work on behalf of Apokolips part of a larger plan, with the eventual return of Darkseid?

Issue #6 featured a guest artist, filling in for Keith Giffen. Since this series is founded on Giffen's ability to channel Jack Kirby's art style, a fill-in artist seemed like a regrettable necessity. What could have been a throw-away issue turned out to be one of the best issues of the series -- as Scott Kolins, using his cartoony style of drawing, made the characters and action shine! If Giffen's emergency take-over as co-writer in the pages of Superman was a factor at all in the series cancelation -- Scott Kolins is one of the few artists that would have been an acceptable replacement.

Brother Eye, arrogant as ever, dares to contact Maxwell Lord directly. Brother Eye says they need to talk. Max replies "Not right now, Brother Eye, I'm kind of busy, plotting your destruction, things like that." Brother Eye nonetheless continues, saying that he's been going through the Cadmus FTP sites - and came upon some hidden files, relating to a mysterious "Zero Patient." This call is basically a "I know what you're up to!" kind of thing.

Lord actually doesn't know what Zero Patient is, and Mokkari claims ignorance on the matter. A shadowed tank of water is shown in Mokkari's lab, with an individual wrapped in bandages floating. Even more curious are the labels on the front of the tank - symbols for Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and Flash.

I'm going on a lot about my speculation on this New Gods-angle, but it's relevant to this issue. Kho and Jody seem to regain some footing regarding their relationship - and they decide to go out to eat with co-workers. A very attractive woman from work, Ms. Lugo, comes along with them to the restaurant. She tells them to call her Leilani. The fleeting sense of normalcy for Kho, sadly, does not last - as Leilani eventually bursts into an outrage - demanding a telling piece of tech: she wants the Mother Box, and she wants it now!

An explosion of energy transforms Leilani into a fierce femdom-like warrior - with a crackling energy whip. Kho is able to transform undetected during the commotion. Brother Eye tells O.M.A.C. that the mere fact she's after a Mother Box means she's extremely dangerous. Leilani is one of Apokolips' Female Furies - women trained to be lethal warriors by the wicked and evil Granny Goodness. Leilani has apparently been sent on this mission to track down a lost Mother Box -- and her being lead to O.M.A.C. only confirms the suspicion that he's designed with New Genesis tech.

Sweet Leilani, as she's called by Granny, proves much more than a match for O.M.A.C. Beyond enhanced strength and her energy whip, Sweet Leilani unleashes these tattoos on her back - images of Ravens, which comes alive and fly off to attack O.M.A.C.

O.M.A.C. is actually getting torn apart by these digital energy ravens, and almost begins to transform back into Kho (which would mean his death).

Brother Eye beams down a new surge of energy, enabling O.M.A.C. to slap the birds out of existence!

Leilani is at O.M.A.C.'s mercy, and is told by Brother Eye to "End this." Before he can kill her, Leilani says that she'll be back - and that she'll have all the other Furies by her side. She then teleports away, out of O.M.A.C.'s grasp.

While Kho slinks on home alone after the disaster, and away from Jody, the issue ends with Maxwell Lord being confronted by an assassin. A guard is in his office is suddenly pointing a gun at his head. Lord exclaims "An assassin, really? I thought you'd be a bit more creative. Brother Eye." The guard is most likely being controlled similar to how Kho was infected and corralled into what Brother Eye wants. Brother Eye's true motives and goals are hinted at - as he says that he's determined that Checkmate could be an effective ally in his efforts to protect mankind. (From Dark Gods in space? Hummmm? ^_^) That will not be possible, however, if Maxwell Lord in charge. Lord exclaims that is Brother Eye's real problem, that he likes being in charge. "I have a better idea. Go kill yourself." Using his mind control powers, even though it induces the usual nosebleed, the guard lifts the gun up and shoots himself in the head.

This scene was really striking, and defines the animosity between Lord and Brother Eye. In an obvious, and almost painfully crass joke, the word "KORD Industries" is visible on the guard's uniform - referencing the old DCU continuity where Lord famously shot Ted Kord (the Blue Beetle) in the head. It was funny, though, simply because it's poking a stick at an already famously controversial event in years past.

So - what does issue #7 have in store for us? Kevin Kho spends a night in a zoo! SERIOUSLY - that was the tag-line. I really was scratching my head "how exactly is that exciting?" It turned out to quite a good issue - as it referenced concepts from Jack Kirby's other DC series, Kamandi.

This is the second to last issue - so perhaps in vain attempt to boost sales at the last minute - the story begins with O.M.A.C. fighting Superman! (I really doubt it was a crass attempt to boost sales -- if it where, Superman would have been on the cover.) Seeing the present day Superman, with his cool new uniform, was very nice to see. O.M.A.C., really, was completely out matched by the man of steel. Superman is able to land a massive blow to O.M.A.C., literally punching a hole right through his chest.

O.M.A.C. tries to fight back, but then gets a blast of heat vision in his face. In a rare sign of humanity, O.M.A.C. calls out "Brother Eye... I'm burning!" Brother Eye responds and teleports O.M.A.C. away. Superman looks around where they where fighting - inside the lower levels of Cadmus. Superman tells the people there to get him Max - as Superman wants to know everything about this creature. He adds he doesn't enjoy working with Checkmate, "but a monster that dangerous needs to be caged."

Kevin Kho finds himself waking up inside a zoo. He doesn't know what to think of this - but by now knows that Brother Eyes leads and directs him to certain places for a reason. All alone in the night time, Kho goes to a candy machine, to try and get some food. He's is startled when someone comes up behind him. A group of animals stand before him -- and I do mean "Stand"; as on two legs, and talking too! This group of evolved animals consist of a bear, warthog, zebra, and their leader - a squat and feisty tiger named Tuffy.

Jack Kirby's Kamandi series followed the exploits of a young man, possibly the last boy on earth, exploring a post-apocalyptic Earth, populated by intelligent animals who are now the dominant species. It's pretty much Planet of the Apes - but with more than just apes in charge. It was a wonderful series, and one of Kirby's more successful runs while at DC. Tuffy is an obviously younger iteration and reinterpretation of Prince Tuftan - a tiger friend of Kamandi during the series.

Tuffy, however, isn't the Prince of a vast Roman-styled Tiger empire. Rather he's the Prince and protector of his fellow evolved animals.

There was some great parodying of classic cartoon characters among his motley crew of animals. The bear held a large bucket, looking similar Winnie the Pooh with his honey jar. Likewise the warthog is probably based on Pumba, from the Lion King. I've never seen the movies, but the Zebra reminded me of the Zebra from Madagascar.

Kho pretty readily accepts the concept of talking animals. Tuffy says he imagines this all must be quite unusual to him. Kho depressingly replies "Not really. Someday I'll tell you about the Bio-Gators." Tuffy leads Kho to a secret entrance leading to caverns beneath the zoo. This location is dangerous and feared by the animals - but Tuffy's father the King is being held by the dreaded Warden Gaym - who is known for experimenting and torturing the animals. Once in the caverns Kho is shocked to see a facility built into the rock-face. Tuffy says this is the place where the animals where transformed into what they are now. They have lost many friends, and it's a place of painful memories. Tuffy explains "That's why we named it The Evil Factory."

Warden Gaym, wearing an all-concealing containment suit, confronts the animals - revealing Tuffy's father, emerging as one of his greatest experiments. A white a vicious humanoid tiger leaps out - given the orders to kill them all! This is Tuffy's father - who's lost all self control. He warns them to stay away, while simultaneously leaping into the fray to murder them. Kevin transforms into O.M.A.C.

Instead of helping with the fight, Brother Eye orders O.M.A.C. to capture the escaping Warden Gaym. Brother Eye exclaims that the Warden is the key - the person who has the skill and ability to transform this world. While chasing him the cyber-monster speaks out his usual "I am O.M.A.C.!" The Warden stops for a moment. "You're O.M.A.C.? My idiot half-brother Mokkari warned me about you." O.M.A.C. blurts out "Warden!"

Removing the helmet of his containment suit, we see this person is actually an intelligent talking ape. "There is no Warden Gaym.", he exclaims "The name is... ...Simyan."

While O.M.A.C. continues the chase, Tuffy is fighting for his life against his own after. Tuffy remembers his father's words - that a King must always protect his people. A prince is no different. He breaks off a spiked piece of stalagmite, and launches at his already lost father. This is the only way to stop him - Tuffy plows the stalagmite directly into the back of his father's head - killing him. He roars out in pain over his loss. The human side of O.M.A.C. hears this, and looks back, concerned, saying "Tuffy?" This allows Simyan the chance to escape. Brother Eye says that he wanted the information from this facility, but now no longer wants it. "This place is an abomination. You know what must be done." O.M.A.C. destroys the entire installation.

Now that his father is dead, Tuffy now needs to take over as King. Kevin and the animals take their leave and go their separate ways.

I haven't personally read all of Jack Kirby's Jimmy Olsen issues - but I'm fairly certain there was an Evil Factory in there too - as well as where Mokkari and Simyan are derived from.

The final issue of O.M.A.C. tries to hurriedly tie up loose plot-lines of the past 7 issues, and ultimately gives readers an emotionally satisfactory ending to close the series on. I suspect that this issue was prepared and thought about in advance, since O.M.A.C. was a long shot character at best -- but suffice to say it works for me, giving us an ending for Kho's nightmare journey - but keeping the character alive for use in other DCU books. So while this is a goodbye to a wonderful attempt at a Kirby-esq title -- this new O.M.A.C. Dan Didio and Keith Giffen have created will not be left to waste.

Issue #8 opens with O.M.A.C. completely under attack. Guards are swarming him by the dozen - with O.M.A.C. fighting back in kind. He's engaged in a battle against all the forces of Checkmate.

Sergeant Steel's squad uses their ambient-tech weapons to assault O.M.A.C. on all sides. Steel and Maribel hammer away at him, while the diminutive Little Knipper plants ambient-created mines to explode under O.M.A.C.'s feet.

Brother Eye is similarly under assault - as Maxwell Lord has found the satellite's location in space. Ships move in to psychically annihilate Brother Eye. Lord tells Mokkari that he better not screw up this time. Mokkari, releasing his newest monstrosity through a doorway portal, tells Lord that if they fail the fault will not be that of Cadmus. He also tellingly remarks "With this, consider my debt to your agency paid."

A huge bug-shaped rock monster confronts O.M.A.C. after arriving through the teleport door. This is actually a larger version of the Gobblers seen in issue #1. The creature is powerful - but O.M.A.C. is fighting for his life, and will not be stopped. O.M.A.C. just barely manages to beat back all the opposition. Up in space Brother Eye has successfully destroyed Checkmate's attack ships - and promptly teleports O.M.A.C. out of the situation.

All throughout this issue, a monologue is being given - about Kevin Kho's life. It's an emotional and meaningful tale - of how his parents helped him survive, fleeing through the jungles of Cambodia. His two sisters where already lost, and soon enough Kho's father and mother similarly die. I believe this story is referencing the survivors and refuges from the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. I don't know that much about the history of it, but when I was younger in my Church Youth Group, there where a many number of Cambodian kids there. I believe they where mostly second generation children, brought over by their parents to America and attaining citizenship. I never knew that much about that kind of past among my fellow Church youth members. But I do remember some talking about how their parents came here through harsh danger (at least that's what I remember hearing.) I thought for a moment that this might not fit -- wasn't that too long ago? Yet me and those other other kids are probably around the same age as me - and Kho, probably somewhat a 30 year old, does fit within the historical time-line -- making this origin work and make sense. HOWEVER... I have to wonder wether, when they chose an Asian-American to be the star of the book, that they would ultimately settle on him being from Cambodia originally? Kho doesn't look Cambodian. Kho's skin is very white, not brown - so unless one of his parents had a whiter complexion than most - this origin falls flat. I repeat, though, I have no real knowledge on the subject one way or another, wether this origin works or not.

I suppose it ultimately doesn't matter - the tale is engaging, and serves as an excellent counter-point to the wall-to-wall action. His origin details how angry he was over his parent's death - yet not being a fighter, he didn't know how to express that anger. He put all his emotion towards a sense of order. He became skilled with computers and technology, which worked for him in the way he defined his life. The best part of it all was when he met Jody. He had proposed to her, and she had accepted. With both of them having a job in Cadmus Labs, he thought they where going to be set for life. He obviously never had a chance to get married to Jody, what with Brother Eye having taken over his whole life.

Kho finds himself in his own living room - and is surprised to find Jody there. She doesn't know what to think - Kevin suddenly appearing out of nowhere. Stressed and panicked, Kho tells Jody that he will explain everything. No more lies. The door to his apartment shutters, as a great force breaks down his entire apartment wall! Checkmate troops are armed ad ready for round two. Checkmate must have finally tracked the teleport signal this time, leading them to Kho. Defiant against the army facing him, Kho tells Jody its time she learned the entire truth.

Yelling out "Omactivate!" - he transforming into the same creature Jody had seen at the restaurant. O.M.A.C. flies into the wave of endless firepower being launched against him.

Meanwhile, in space, Brother Eye discovers that Lord had not been as incompetent in trying to destroy him as he had thought. The weapons of the ships weren't suppose to destroy him, they where designed to magnetize his hull. The protective field of asteroids Brother Eye uses now attach to him, covering and crushing him. Lord had finally outsmarted Brother Eye. As the the rock-encrusted satellite begins to enter the atmosphere, he decides to leave behind one last gift. A beam of energy is unleashed, hitting O.M.A.C.

All the Checkmate soldiers have been defeated - and after the action Kho once again regains mental control - but this time not in his human body. Kevin Kho's mind is now trapped in the monstrous body.

Having defeated Brother Eye, Maxwell Lord is asked what his orders are regarding O.M.A.C. Without Brother Eye, Lord says to let it go. "It's no longer a treat." He then adds "Besides, we have more important things to do."

Jody comes over to the now confused monsterous Kho. He can't change back. Jody asks for answers, but he brushes her aside. "Get Away!" She pleads with him "Kevin! Please stay... I love you." He angrily replies back "Kevin Kho is dead. I am O.M.A.C."

Over all I was really, really satisfied with this ending. Even Brother Eye's destruction was excellent - as it purposefully matched Jack Kirby's end for Brother Eye in his final issue of O.M.A.C.

There however is so much left unresolved from the series. What happens to Rocker Bonn from issue #2? Where will the Psi-Fi Man show up next? Leilani and the Female Furies -- and the larger New Gods storyline? Project Cadmus, Mokkari, Simyan - and the mysterious Patient Zero?! What's going to happen to those scrappy evolved animals from the zoo?

Keith Giffen is now co-writing Superman, and O.M.A.C. is going to appear in Justice League International, and I believe also in Firestorm (a mini-crossover of the two titles). I really don't have the money to follow all the tangent storylines - especially when O.M.A.C. is probably going to be utilized (for now at least) as the DCU's version of the Hulk. With Kho now in control of the body, he'll no doubt want to stay away from society -- but will probably be forced to defend himself from other heroes who only see him as a monster.

I strongly believe the likes of Patient Zero and Maxwell Lord are going to be seen again - possibly in the pages of Superman. It just makes no sense to waste such great ideas - and it was pretty clear, at least in regard to Maxwell Lord, that the New Gods and Checkmate plotlines will be continued and carried on in other titles, and in the DCU in general.

I originally was half glad this series was canceled - simply because it takes a book off of my pull list. Looking back over the past eight issues, I see all the details I originally missed the first time I read them. This really was a great series - and I encourage anyone to consider buying the TPB DC will no doubt release.

I keep thinking, though, that DC could come back and re-brand the series. I'm thinking maybe some kind of New Gods-centered storyline. Or a Cadmus/Checkmate War title. DC has shown they are willing to rebrand, and give genres a second chance. (For instance Men of War was canceled, only to be replaced by G.I. Combat.) If Giffen isn't available to draw it - Scott Kolins is a perfect alternative.

Anything that happens, though, regarding the dangling storylines -- will probably have to wait until the Justice League have their inevitable rematch with Darkseid and Apokolips. Maybe a new series will be spun out of that afterword.

No comments:

Post a Comment