To understand O.M.A.C. #1, you have to understand Jack Kirby.
There’s a reason Kirby was – and still is – known as “The King”. No single artist has influenced comic book artwork today more than Jack Kirby. He innovated many of the artistic tropes that we take for granted today, such as a character’s fists or feet launching out toward the reader like a printed 3-D movie. Kirby was also an excellent visual storyteller and one of the greatest idea men the industry has ever seen. If he had a flaw, it was that as great as he was with concepts, he was weak on character development. Thankfully, his concepts were strong enough that this was rarely a problem, given the stories he favored telling. You don’t need a lot of complex characterization when you’re dealing on the level of gods waging war.
The spirit of Kirby is strong in this title, which revives one of Jack Kirby’s old characters for the modern day. Dan Didio, better known for his position as DC Comics editor in chief than his work as a writer, has a lot in common with Kirby. He has a lot of big ideas and trusts those ideas to sell themselves without needing a lot of explanation. This proves to be a good choice in the case of O.M.A.C – an acronym for One Man Army Corps.
The action centers open the offices of Cadmus – a bio-medical company we are told has made tremendous strides in mapping the human genome and genetic engineering. The facility is attacked by a mysterious being who identifies itself only as OMAC. OMAC then proceeds to open up an industrial size can of whoop-ass on Cadmus security, fighting its’ way toward Cadmus’ mainframe computer and the information within. By the issue’s end, we find that OMAC is controlled by a sophisticated artificial intelligence called Brother Eye, which seemingly has the power to infect any human with the power of OMAC.
There’s not a lot of depth to this story (what do you expect from a hero, whose original incarnation answered to the name of Buddy Blank?) but there doesn’t need to be. This is old-school comic-book action, the way King Kirby used to write it. I personally prefer my heroes to have a little more depth but even I can see the appeal of this concept. As Terry Pratchett once noted, just because something is simple does not mean that it is stupid and this book is far from stupid.
Artist Keith Giffen alters his usual style a bit for this book, apparently aping Kirby’s style in terms of both layouts and finishes. This is an effective choice, with most of the pages having the standard five and six panel layouts that Kirby favored, with only one double-page spread in the whole book and only two splash pages.
While nobody can draw a monster like Jack Kirby could, Giffen does draw monsters just as well as Kirby did. He also manages some great expressions on the human characters, creating people who are distinctive and memorable despite having relatively little time on the page.
This book is a wonderful tribute to times past and the legacy of Jack Kirby. It also manages to be a great action story in its’ own right, with the art to match it. The only flaw I can see is that at no point in the story is it explained just what O.M.A.C stands for. Still, if you like your comics full of action and free of fluff, you might want to give O.M.A.C. a try.