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WHttDCnU? – OMAC: Omactivate!

WHTTDCU-Titles-053

… I truly don’t know what to say about this. The likes of Cadmus, Brother Eye and even the One Man Army Corps known as OMAC used to be serious, big deal players in DC. Now..? I’m not sure what this is, other than an awkward attempt at quaint, silly colorful whackiness.

Crimson Hound and the Plague Doctor are on the scene… Will that survive the… Omactivation..? Found out now on:

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE DC NEW UNIVERSE?

– QueenQeeko

WHTTDCNU-synopsis

plague-doc-rIt’s just another ordinary day at Cadmus Industries. Employees late with reports, male employees making female employees feel uncomfortable, and a giant, blue, rampaging monster called OMAC is destroying the building.

Seemingly unstoppable, and commanded by a voice that only it can hear, it makes for the central mainframe, underground, where the “real” Cadmus project is located. It tears through every obstacle in its way, until the disembodied voice is able to upload itself.

The voice is Brother Eye, a sentient satellite. And now that it’s back in the mainframe, it teleports OMAC out of the building and into some unknown spot in an unknown desert.

It transpires that OMAC is actually Kevin Cho, OCD-afflicted employee of Cadmus. Somehow, for reasons unknown, he was merged with a virus that allowed his body to be transformed into a bio-mechanical weapon, under Brother Eye’s complete control.

Its next step is to manipulate Kevin into going to the nearest diner. Rocker Bonn, ex-operative for the international agency called Checkmate, is hiding there, and working as a kitchen hand. His power is the ability to absorb any material, and use it to become bigger and stronger. The plan is to have Rocker absorb OMAC’s circuitry, so that Brother Eye can disintegrate him and put him away in a pocket dimension, until it has a use for him.

This important task completed, Brother Eye then manipulates Kevin into prison, by hacking the Homeland Security databse, and listing Kevin as a dangerous terrorist. This particular prison is run by the megalomaniac Professor Arous, who has experimented on himself and become the powerful psionic, the Psi-Fi Man. He has been assembling a growing army of inmates, and Brother Eye does not like this, so it has OMAC try to terminate him.

Meanwhile, Checkmate is scrambling to make sure that the break-in stays covered-up. They don’t want anybody knowing that Checkmate is funding Cadmus. Though it takes them a while to stop making a mess of things, Checkmate eventually manage to get an “elite team” together and drops them into the middle of the prison, and they interrupt OMAC’s fight against the Psi-Fi man. They almost capture him, but OMAC manages to escape. So does his opponent, Arous.

Brother Eye sends Kevin home to recover for a while, as well as to show him how much his life doesn’t really exist anymore. His workplace grills him for his absence, and he can’t talk to his girlfriend, or else Brother Eye will also inflict the virus on her. Finally, Brother Eye sees to it that Kevin takes the subway, just when Checkmate is about to send mutant alligators after him, thus ensuring that Kevin believes he “needs” Brother Eye’s protection. Only once Kevin apologises does Brother Eye give him the ability to transform again, and he is able to quickly handle the alligators.

Because of the Alligators’ failure, Checkmate decides to work with one of their sister agencies. They send Frankenstein of S.H.A.D.E to handle OMAC, and he attacks Kevin Cho as he’s buying a hot dog. Brother Eye tries to take advantage of this and hack S.H.A.D.E’s systems through Frankenstein’s signal, but ultimately, the effort is in vain. Brother Eye teleports Kevin away again, and Frankenstein loses an arm in the process.

Meanwhile, Mokarri of Cadmus is working on something in secret – something called “Zero Patient” which will apparently be able to take down OMAC, Brother Eye and Checkmate all at once. He denies all knowledge, of course, when Max of Checkmate interrogates him about it.

Things almost seem to be getting back to normal for Kevin. His sleazy workmate wants to go on a double date with a “hot consultant” that recently threatened to fire him. His girlfriend is talking to him again. But wouldn’t you know it? The consultant turns out to be one of Granny Goodness’ Furies. Once again, Kevin transforms into OMAC and ends the fight with one of Brother Eye’s energy surges. The Fury is forced to flee, and so is Kevin, lest his girlfriend or colleague find out that he is OMAC.

And finally, at long last, this abomination of a comic ends.

WHTTDCNU-art

crimson-hound-lOMAC is one of the more colorful and unique looking books in the NU52, in fact I get a strong Jack Kirby feel from the art which matches the tone of the writing. Monsters are unique, either looking like inhuman constructs that don’t share any natural beastly form with enough variation between them to make each one unique.

OMAC himself looks cool, different shades of blue, reds, and yellows, basically a more “Hulk” inspired style Superman, which the character basically is: a technological version of Marvel’s Hulk. Interesting moments with his Mohawk when he’s doing various feats of strength, it seems the more stressful the bigger the damn thing is and it kind of makes it humorous when seeing the character in action. Brother Eye also looks unique, he’s not just a regular satellite but an actual flying saucer in space with a big…well eye in the center. It feels like a technological version of Sauron’s Eye from the LotR trilogy, very menacing and could probably shoot a laser. The technology shown also is very colorful, a lot of neon lighting and floating blue screens, with various people in space suits straight out of an old sci-fi b-movie. Again very reminiscent of Jack Kirby, even some “Kirby-Krackle” whenever you see energy, especially in the “futuristic” weapons used against OMAC.

Good art, and honestly if the book had gone on I would have loved to see what else could have been done with it.

plague-doc-rCongratulations, guys. If the point of the art in this comic was to make it seem as though you don’t even care about doing a job well, then you have succeeded.

I don’t know how Dan Didio and Keith Giffen managed to make Kevin’s face look as though it’s made entirely of rubber, but it’s not a good look. It’s also not limited to just Kevin; just about every character has at least one moment where their face assumes an expression that just shouldn’t be biologically possible. There are moments when character smirk or grimace, and their eyes squeeze shut so tightly that they’re no more than slits. And yet apparently, they’re still supposed to be wide open. It’s just the musculature of their face reacting to the smile.

Because that’s totally how faces work, right?

Consider Lord Mokkai’s female robot buddy in Issue 1. Just for a moment. There’s a certain panel that makes her mouth look like somebody surgically altered it. It’s as if she has some gaping wounds at the corners of her lips, and for quite a while, I couldn’t tell if she was supposed to be an alien, the victim of a Glasgow Smile, or if the art style really was just that bad. I would consider it some kind of foreshadowing that she can make a gun pop out of her face, if it wasn’t for the fact that the same thing frequently happens to other characters.

And maybe this is just nitpicking, but if the little coloured balls in the last panel of Issue 1 are supposed to be planets, then … I’m pretty sure that Dan Didio doesn’t actually know what planets are, or how many of them there are supposed to be.

If there’s anything this comic does well, art-wise, it’s the fight scenes, but even though they’re visually okay, they’re not actually interesting. Why? Because it doesn’t feel as though anything is at stake. But that’s what the next section is for.

WHTTDCNU-writing

crimson-hound-lOMAC’s writing is fine, nothing spectacular though. Kevin works for Cadmus, it’s one of the DCU’s more iconic secret science organizations, between this and Star Labs is where most of more science based heroes and villains go to or come from. Anyways Kevin gets turned into a giant blue Mohawk wearing monster named OMAC and is now under the control of Brother Eye, who monologues throughout the issues that OMAC is his ultimate weapon for his revenge. It’s pretty clear that Kevin doesn’t have control over OMAC, in fact Brother Eye makes it even clearer that his life is no longer his.

There isn’t much to go on here, we learn that Cadmus is under the control of CHECKMATE basically the SHIELD of the DC universe but not used as often. A surprise is that Maxwell Lord is the one in charge of everything and it seems he was the one that had imprisoned Brother Eye for his own reasons. The relationship between Kevin and Brother Eye isn’t very interesting as it is just the two of them arguing about Kevin’s freedom until finally something bad happens and he has to rely on Brother Eye to let him turn into OMAC. It’s generic but it has some cool moments and feels like there was something being built up here, with references to the New Gods and their technology being scattered about. The book has plenty of parallels to stuff from the Hulk, Kevin basically has to leave everything he knows and loves behind as he’s a wanted man who can turn into a monster, a brilliant mind that turns into an uncontrollable beast.

plague-doc-rOMAC has to be one of the most horribly-written comics I have ever read.

An absolute chore to get through, not a single character in this comic was remotely interesting or engaging, and the plot had so many random and inconsequential things happening – so many crossovers and cameos from other comic series – that it was nearly impossible to tell what the overall plot was supposed to be.

That many crossovers and characters and plots left no time for any development. so in the end, what we were left with was little more than OMAC repeatedly destroying the Monster of the Week, while Brother Eye, Cadmus and Checkmate do shady, sinister things in the background. Some talking animals are thrown in near the end, one of them has to kill their father, and I just. Can’t. Care.

Seriously, we had less than half an issue to get to know Tuffy. How well was a tragic scene supposed to pay off, emotionally speaking?

Aside from the overload of one-scene characters, the writing suffered quite a bit from the dreaded “As You Know” syndrome. The most egregious example of this was the beginning of the second issue. Brother Eye, eager to explain how he’s just taken Kevin Cho’s life away, has dialogue explaining Kevin’s old identity and job to him. Because that’ll help readers understand, right?

How about this, guys: have Brother Eye explain that he’s in complete control of Kevin’s life. Have Kevin protest. No! You can’t do this! I’m just a normal guy! Insert job here, insert old life here, work done, no problem, and then have Brother Eye respond to this with his own dialogue. Would that have been acceptable? Probably not to these guys, because that would take up too many valuable panels of OMAC punching and smashing things.

And, oh, yeah, one more thing.

“Omactivate.”

Worst. Catchphrase. Ever.

WHTTDCNU-characterisation

crimson-hound-lThere wasn’t much here in characterization. Kevin is OCD and Smart, however he’s also clearly a good person at heart. His love interest Jody is the standard love interest that hasn’t put two and two together but wants to help Kevin in his time of need as his lover. Maxwell Lord and his cronies aren’t really in depth characters either, it is very noticeable that Max has something more nefarious in mind especially with the various people he’s hired in both Cadmus and CHECKMATE.

Brother Eye is more or less an annoying AI, always monologuing about how he’s in control of Kevin and OMAC’s existence, how Kevin would be nothing without him, and how he’ll have his revenge against Lord and others. Also instead of saying “I” as in “I am in control” he instead does “Eye am in control”, because he’s Brother EYE. It’s actually more annoying than clever. Him and OMAC also have this thing too where Eye will give orders to OMAC like “Search and Destroy” and OMAC will repeat the last word (i.e. Destroy). OMAC has the “Hulk Mannerisms” as well, speaking in one or two word sentences, even doing an “OMAC SMASH!” thing just to drive the point home of what the inspiration here is.

I could mention the crossover with Frankenstein, Agent of SHADE but I actually like that series so I won’t. Bare bones and probably would have been more interesting with more time and effort into the series had it gone on longer.

plague-doc-rTo describe Brother Eye as merely “unlikeable” is an understatement, to say the least.

“Unlikeable” is Voodoo’s protagonist, supporting characters and general lack of plot.

“Unlikeable” is the Keepers from Green Lantern Corps, or how the Guardians of the Universe gave no reason for abandoning them.

Brother Eye, is pure, undiluted, teeth-grinding obnoxiousness, condensed into satellite form.

It’s not just that he doesn’t have any redeeming characteristics that make him fun to read about (even though that’s true). It’s not just the neverending “eye” pun (even though it was horrible the first time, and only became moreso with each repetition). It’s not the smugness that radiates off him in every panel (even though he does come across as an insufferable douchebag). It’s not even the fact that he seems to have no recognisable motivation for his actions, aside from vengance, and wanting to “transform” the world, in some mysterious, unknown way.

It’s the combination of all of these traits that come together to create that oh-so-special Brother Eye magic. And by “magic,” I mean the intense desire to set the comic ablaze.

Curse this non-flammable digital format!

Unfortunately, Brother Eye is also probably the most proactive character in the comic, directing OMAC’s actions, with pretty much everything and everyone else simply reacting to the chain of events that he’s set in motion. Our ostensible “protagonist,” OMAC is little more than a mindless puppet, and his human form, Kevin, isn’t given any chance to act of his own accord, because everything that happens in the comic is a result of Brother Eye’s manipulations.

Eight books later, I still don’t know why Kevin was chosen to be the recipient of Brother Eye’s OMAC virus (maybe it’s because he was the biggest pushover Brother Eye could locate). I have no idea why any of these characters do what they do, aside from being power-hungry and insane. I dont’ know who I’m supposed to be rooting for because it’s certainly not Brother Eye, can’t be Kevin and certainly isn’t Cadmus or Checkmate, or any of their utterly forgettable operatives.

WHTTDCNU-conclusion

crimson-hound-lI don’t hate OMAC. I don’t particularly find myself liking it either, but it definitely isn’t the worst book in the bunch.

A lot of interesting ideas are here in the form of involving some of the DCU’s lesser known stuff like CHECKMATE and the New Gods without having to rely on characters such as Superman or Batman to bring them in but it just feels held back by something. I can’t put my finger on it.

I would have tried picking it back up if there were more issues down the line but unfortunately there weren’t.

plague-doc-rIn the DCnU, there have been some pretty bad comics. So far, I think I can safely say that OMAC ranks as the worst yet, by a pretty big margin. It was bland, pointless, dull and monotonous. Its characters were flat, cardboard cutouts without agency, purpose or identity. Nowhere in its pages did I encounter anything memorable, or at least anything that I would want to remember. For just one moment, near the beginning of the second issue, I had the vague hope that the writing would improve, and that things would actually get interesting. But those hopes were dashed faster than I can say, “I am OMAC.”

If there was one character, one joke, one single, solitary line of dialogue that was supposed to appeal to new readers, or old readers, or anybody, then I must have missed it completely. The only things this comic does remotely decently are explosions and smashing stuff. And without a good story or interesting characters, I’m afraid that’s simply not good enough.

WHTTDCNU-comic

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