Monday, March 28, 2011

Back Issue Alphabet: O is for The Omega Men (1983)

The Omega Men #1 (Roger Slifer, Keith Giffen, Mike De Carlo)

The cover is fairly overblown, and it didn’t give me high hopes for the content. I went into this book ready to tear into another self-important space opera, but darned if The Omega Men didn’t pull me in. It’s a Green Lantern/Teen Titans spin-off, but it’s spun so far off that you don’t require any knowledge of the crossover event that birthed it to enjoy the story.

Omega Men #1 succinctly (if hamfistedly) introduces us to the group and what they’re up against. A team of super powered misfits from different enslaved planets have joined forces to combat their oppressors, the evil Citadel. That’s the backdrop, but the story of this issue focuses on Broot (the big purple guy) and his planet, a society of pacifists that avoid war at all costs. Broot has broken his ancestral vow of pacifism to liberate his people, which has only earned him scorn.

Take note of the cover: this book was not approved by the Comics Code Authority, so the writers and artists have free reign to be extra violent. And because the Omega Men are fighting aliens instead of humans, the action is more brutal than average DC house standards would allow. Citadel soldiers get torn in half, smashed, shot, and rent in twain, often with red liquid spilling everywhere. In an era when most heroes and villains didn’t even bruise, it must have been violently refreshing.

The alien designs are wonderfully imaginative, and artist Keith Giffen manages to make even bizarre, non-human faces emotionally evocative. Looking back, Keith Giffen has done the art on The Letter E and The Letter J in my Back Issue Alphabet. I’m probably 30 years late to say it, but this guy is great!

I liked Omega Men #1. It’s an accessible cosmic story, new-reader friendly, and has amazing art. If I had found it in 1983, this issue would have convinced me to follow the series. It has also contributed to my growing admiration of Keith David.

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