New 52 Review: O.M.A.C. #1

Keith Giffen and Dan DiDio team up to pay tribute to Jack Kirby with this hulking blue beast's story told in a throwback style.

Andy Hunsakerby Andy Hunsaker

When the New 52 were first announced, I was surprised to see that DC honcho Dan DiDio was actually going to be writing one of the books.  Now that O.M.A.C. #1 is out, and we see that the credit is actually "Story and Art by 'Krackling' Keith Giffen and 'Daring' Dan Didio", it's vague enough to wonder just how much was contributed by each one.  However, it comes off as though they're trying to convince us that Jack Kirby actually created this issue with how much they are aping his style, and it makes you wonder why.

It's hard to argue with the idea of wanting to pay tribute to King Kirby, but this effort is a curious fit in the New 52, which is a throwback in tone and style amongst an initiative designed to modernize and update the DC pantheon of characters.  Maybe it's a statement to veteran fans that they're not going to completely abandon their history with this endeavor, or maybe they just wanted a really classic kind of book that could be more inviting for younger kids, too, as opposed to all the grim darkness floating around in these new #1s.  Whatever the case, it's a mixed bag.

The set up is that Kevin Kho of Cadmus Industries, a leading genetic research company with a strange and secret underbelly of weird science, has somehow been possessed by O.M.A.C. power, and is guided on a rampage through Cadmus by a mysterious unseen controller who is puppeteering the unstoppable blue mohawked techno-creature into those secret lower levels that most of the Cadmus employees don't even know about.  Levels run by the mysterious Lord Mokkari and his security chief Dubbilex, who are funky alien types.  O.M.A.C. proves unstoppable, takes what he needs from Cadmus, and Kho wakes up somewhere strange, having no memory of what happened – but is still being looked after by that guide, which turns out to be Brother Eye, a satellite which appears to be sentient.  Is this still the thing Batman created, or will it be rolled back to being Professor Myron Forest's creation in keeping with their Golden Age feel?   DC has said Identity Crisis is sadly still canon, so that would lead us to believe Batman will be involved somehow.

Giffen and DiDio are obviously having a blast in going full-on old-school with the flowing expository dialog, the bombastic narration and the Kirby-dot power cracklin's, and it's an amazingly close simulation of Kirby's particular style.  The trouble with trying to draw Kirby without actually being Kirby is that sometimes people just seem misshapen rather than awesome, which seems to be the case every time we see Kevin's girlfriend Jody Robbins.  And you'd think at some point in the first issue, they'd mention that O.M.A.C. stands for One Man Army Corps… unless they're planning to give the acronym a different meaning. 

So O.M.A.C. is what it is.  If you want to read new comics with an almost religious adherence to Jack Kirby's style, it's the place to be.  If seeing other people copy Kirby's style just makes you want to go check out Kirby's actual work instead, it's hard to imagine Giffen and DiDio wouldn't be okay with that result, too.  Well, Giffen, maybe.  DiDio wants you to buy the new stuff.