OMAC: One Man Army Corps #1 – Reviews Of Old Comics
I’ve been meaning to do this one for a while. First, my pointless boycott of John Byrne’s work got in the way, but now that we’re past that, I think I can review a John Byrne comic that’s out of print. I had actually been hoping for it to be included on DC Universe. They’ve been resistant to include Mature Readers titles there, so it may not come along for a while.
John Byrne has a habit for taking on Kirby creations. He tackled the Demon and the New Gods. Whenever he worked on other DC properties, it was only a matter of time before a Kirby creation would come into the story.
Writer/Artist: John Byrne
On a future battlefield, OMAC gets in the way of a bomb. He has to rely on the satellite Brother Eye to repair the damage. As good as new, OMAC resumes his attack. After having to be fixed up three more times, he come to his attacker, a soldier in a striding, walking war machine called a “corporate raider.” He cripples it with a planted explosive. He pulls the pilot from the wreckage and quickly snaps his neck.
OMAC returns to the settlement that the Corporate Raider had been menacing. They hail him as their hero and provide him with a feast. OMAC has it distributed among the settlement’s children. He does make love to the young woman that is sent to his tent. In the morning, Brother Eye informs him that the prime target has been located. The shields that hid him have inexplicably dropped.In preparing to leave, he scares the young woman sent to him the night before. As he leaves, he ponders the child that he has fathered with that young woman.
On his way, Brother Eye takes over the mechanics of walking and feeds OMAC’s mind with the culture and tales of a time long gone by. When he comes within ten miles, Brother Eye gives him full control again. He faces several piloted attack machines. Choosing his moment, he attacks and destroys the defenses, killing the pilots. The long war has left no experienced warriors, just rookies to pilot these machines.
OMAC enters Mr. Big’s headquarters with no resistance. The structure is littered with plundered technology and art. Eventually, he is attacked by a large group of people. They are untrained and undressed for combat since they are Mr. Big’s harem, for his carnal pleasure. With a command, they stop fighting and Mr. Big expresses pleasure in meeting OMAC again. OMAC is confused because he has never met Mr. Big before.
Mr. Big taunts OMAC, but tells him that he has grown too old and too tired to go on. He has tired of living vicariously through his soldiers and harem. He asks OMAC to kill him. OMAC ponders the situation and realizes that Mr. Big has made his mark on the world with unmeasured suffering. In the end, he has no choice, as OMAC he was made to kill.
Afterwards, OMAC ponders what life he can have now that he has fulfilled his purpose. Then a hand stretches out from a portal, beckoning to him. He’s pulled through it into a high-tech wonderland by two Global Peace Agents. They need him to stop Mr. Big. OMAC expresses his confusion, having just killed Mr. Big. The agents show him a time machine that Mr. Big used to create the world he just left. He traveled to the past to alter history and stop a world of scientific advancement where the near-perfect society was threatened by men like Mr. Big.
The Agents want to send OMAC and Brother Eye back to capture Mr. Big and stop the damage he has done to history. OMAC agrees and steps into the machine. He is transported back in time and finds himself reverting back to his original form of Buddy Blank, collapsing in a dirty street.
It’s later in the series that the wonky time travel elements get really explored. In this issue we get a story that’s much grimmer than the ones that Jack Kirby created. This OMAC is older and has been at war with Mr. Big for decades. Mr. Big tires of the endless war and begs OMAC to kill him. However, some of the things he says are odd. He remembers more than OMAC does. This really shows a little bit of planning. Of course, that seems almost necessary in a time travel story.
The plotting is methodical and gives us a chance to become accustomed to this OMAC. We see in the visuals from the Peace Agents the world Jack Kirby created. This is our first clue that something is amiss in all of the time travel. Making use of the malleability of the timeline is a far cry from how John Byrne would treat time travel in Next Men. I see advantages in a malleable timeline, but I really love seeing a writer work his way around a story where time is fixed. John Byrne has shown that he can do both.
The artwork makes use of duo-tone shading. John Byrne also used this in Namor and She-Hulk. Here, in a black and white format, it adds something to the artwork. It also makes the room that the Peace Agents bring OMAC in look remarkably different. Of course, we get Byrne showing off an attention to detail and a reliability in his likenesses. Amazingly, OMAC started as a Shazam story, but only the first page of the second issue began as part of that story, and it was completely redrawn. (source)
Does this comic live up to the legacy of Jack Kirby? It sort of does, since by making it an alternate timeline, it doesn’t affect anything Kirby set down. As a matter of fact, in the fourth issue, Byrne ties it all together so that Kirby has the final word on OMAC, from a certain point of view.
Notes: This has not yet been collected. I find it odd given how much interest remains in OMAC. I wish I knew what the reasons were. Sadly it’s not available digitally, either. Part of this could be the mature readers label and the confusion it could cause. However, once you look over DC history in the past ten years, I don’t see where that could be a problem. The original issue may cost you a few bucks, depending upon condition, but bargains can be found. I wouldn’t pay into the double digits for an issue from this series unless you really want a pristine copy.
Final Rating: 8.8 (out of 10)