Friday, June 5, 2009

Famous First Fridays: OMAC

Have I ever told you how much I loved, loved, LOVED Jack Kirby's OMAC? His futuristic Captain-America-with-a-Mohawk just blew me away when it hit the spinner racks in June of 1974. All those krazy Kirby koncepts about technology and human nature, koupled with slam-bang, leaping-off-the-page-and-into-your-face art just punched all of the right 11 year-old buttons for Young Groove. A giant, sentient, eye-shaped satellite...a faceless, international peace-keeping organization...rooms where you can vent all of your unsavory desires without shame or harming anyone else...super-rich...cities you can rent...I kould go on and on, but you get the picture. This isn't Kirby kreating a kosmic epic as he did with his Fourth World series'; this is Kirby kutting loose with some of the most imaginative sci-fi koncepts of his kareer! Kirby let it all hang out and laid the skinny on us as to what OMAC was all about in the letters page of ish #1. Dig it:

To kall the first issue of OMAC "wild" would be the understatement of all understatements. You'd have to add weird, wacky, and several more adjectives before you'd come klose to describing this masterpiece of mad-science. I mean, how do you even begin to describe..."Build a Friend"?

Of course, Kirby klobbers you with the weird on page one, then heads straight for the action with a magnificent double-page spread on pages two through three!

If Kirby didn't spell out the premise of OMAC klearly enough for ya in his editorial, OMAC's "dialogue" with Lila hammers it on home...

After grabbing our attention with the prologue, Kirby gives us background into the World That's Koming by introducing us to other key players in OMAC's saga, namely the Global Peace Agency (a nameless, faceless international group of unselfish individuals who are working tirelessly toward world peace), Professor Myron Forest (the main brain behind the OMAC project), Brother Eye (the super-komputer/satellite behind OMAC's power), and Buddy Blank (the nebbish who will become OMAC).

With the stage set and players in place, next komes the good stuff! The origin of OMAC!

Kirby then takes us back to where we started, as Brother Eye kontacts OMAC, putting all of the final pieces into place...

Yeah, Young Groove was hooked, baby. Unfortunately, OMAC came out near the end of Kirby's kontract with DC which meant that the King would abandon his DC projects and move back to Marvel. Only Kamandi (did'ja katch any of the little klues as to OMAC's ties to Kamandi, by the by?) would kontinue without Kirby at the helm. In fact, Jack left without even drawing the kover for the eighth and final issue (August 1975).

OMAC would return in 1978, written and drawn by Jim Starlin, as a back-up in (appropriately enough) Kamandi. Kursed again, due to the DC Implosion, Starlin's OMAC happened to appear in Kamandi's final issue (issue #59, June 1978). OMAC got another shot in 1980, when DC (successfully, this time) went back to the 44 page/fifty cent format, appearing in Warlord (beginning with issue #37, June 1980--exactly two years later--how 'bout that?) kontinuing Starlin's epic from where it had left off through issue #39 (August 1980). OMAC kame back for an encore starting with Warlord #42 (November 1981), but unfortunately, Starlin had moved on to other projects during the two year hiatus between Kamandi #39 and Warlord #37 (evidently, he'd kompleted the whole story before the first one had seen print) and the strip fell into the kapable but less kosmic hands of Dan Mishkin, Gary Cohn, and Greg Laroque for the remainder of the Warlord run (ending with issue 47, April 1981). In DC Comics Presents #61 (June 1983--June was always quite a month for OMAC, wasn't it?), Len Wein and George Perez teamed OMAC (back in his original Kirby kostume) up with Superman. In the 1990s, John Byrne revamped OMAC in a mini-series and used him in his Generations series of mini-series. In 2005, Paul Pope gave his interpretation of OMAC #1 in Solo #3, which was nice, because a month later DC gave OMAC an "extreme makeover" for their OMAC Project/Infinite Crisis/Brand New World mess, the less of which is said, the better.

'Kause, you know...Kirby rules.

1 comment:

  1. I loved OMAC 1-8 by Kirby. I pedaled my bike all around town to a lot of 7-11 stores to track down all those issues as they came out!

    Amazing how, published in 1974-1975, almost 50 years later they still somehow remain futuristic. I especially love the double-page spread in issue 3. Kirby had an amazing hit ratio during his 1970-1975 period at DC: JIMMY OLSEN, FOREVER PEOPLE, NEW GODS, MISTER MIRACLE, THE DEMON, KAMANDI, SPIRIT WORLD 1 (issue 2 contents published in WEIRD MYSTERY 1-3, and DARK MANSION 6), DAYS OF THE MOB, OUR FIGHTING FORCES 151-162, JUSTICE INC 2-4, FIRST ISSUE SPECIAL 1, 5 and 6. Only RICHARD DRAGON 3 and KOBRA were disappointments for me. His SANDMAN issues were delightfully odd. And only years later did we get to see what would have been SANDMAN 7, "The Seal Men's War on Santa Claus".

    And the magic wasn't over when Kirby returned to Marvel. ETERNALS was great, particularly the first 2 issues. CAPTAIN AMERICA 193-216, and the CAPTAIN AMERICA'S BICENTENNIAL BATTLES treasury, 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY treasury movie adaptation, 2001 series 1-10 (especially issue 8, Machine Man's origin story), then MACHINE MAN in his own series 1-9, DEVIL DINOSAUR 1-9, and BLACK PANTHER series (and man, what a contrast to the McGregor JUNGLE TALES Black Panther run! Both very enjoyable in their own ways.)

    I always liked Kirby's DC period the best, but plenty of good reading there at Marvel too. Some of it fun for just being off-the-wall and bizarre (CAPTAIN AMERICA "Mad Bomber" storyline, anyone?) But Kirby goodness, every one of them.



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