When I was looking at 1974 the big creations in comics were Wolverine and Punisher, but I thought; why look at characters that everybody knows, and that I don’t care that much about. Yeah, I love Wolverine, but everybody does, so he gets plastered everywhere, there probably isn’t much I could talk about that isn’t universally known. And Punisher, well, I’m not a fan. I have a few Punisher TPB’s simply because of who’s writing, not based on any liking or following of the character. But OMAC… OMAC is someone whom I took a liking too since the first issue of his that I read, which was OMAC #1 by Jack Kirby. Yep, this is another Kirby classic. In fact, the last big character he created for DC. He did a few more series with Marvel after this and other work elsewhere, but this was his last entry into the DC mythos.
OMAC takes place in the future. Well, it takes place in “The World That’s Coming”. Whatever the hell that means. OMAC #1 tells the story of Buddy Blank and Brother, and the unique relationship they have as agents of the Global Peace Agency. We first meet Buddy as OMAC: The One Man Army Corps (what a badass name). He is in a factory that makes fake people called “Build-A-Friends”. he fights off the mass of factory workers, and blows the whole place up, despite the pleas from one of the “friends”, Lila. Flashback to the present/still the future.
The masked men of the Global Peace Agency, hiding their faces to betray no national allegiances and be able to act unbiased, bring their choice of candidates to the creator of the Brother Eye satellite. He boots up the satellite and enters the information. Buddy Blank is that candidate. Buddy Blank will become OMAC
But for now, Buddy Blank is just a guy. A boring guy. A cog in the machine that is Pseudo People Inc.. Picked on by his coworkers, and seen as a weakling with a “persecution complex” by his boss, this guy is depressed and rightly so. His boss sends to the Psychology Section of his work. But this isn’t what you would picture. Yeah the purpose is to make you feel better, and for you to talk out your issues, and you’ll soon find out why. He meets with a woman but they aren’t able to talk long, because she has to rush off soon after he gets there.
We follow our woman as she walks to another section of the jobsite. A hidden place. With disassembled woman. Not unlike where we first met OMAC in fact. But we readers weren’t the only ones to creepily follow the woman through the building without her knowledge. No, Buddy followed as well. Stumbling upon something he wasn’t supposed to see, the workers grab him and explain the purpose of what is going on. Our woman, whose name is Lila, if that means anything, is being recalled from what was a test run to be sent to accomplish what she was really built for. What she was really built for was high-powered business men. Because all old, powerful men are pervs, the company figured why not make beautiful robots for the pleasure of these men. And why not use these robots as bombs to kill said men.
Obviously, Buddy can’t live after the villainous monologue, so the workers move in for the kill. When all of a sudden, you guessed it, Jack Kirby’s contract ends and the book gets cancelled! No, that doesn’t happen until the end of issue 8. No, Buddy Blank gets a signal from Brother Eye and becomes OMAC: The One Man Army Corp. As we already know, he teaches the goons/factory hooligans what a punch in the face from justice feels like. The fight scene is elaborated more here, showing OMAC face his adversaries with their fiery vats for melting robots, massive walls that close in, and a variety of guns.
After defeating the onslaught and blowing up his former place of employment (Uh oh, I hope he can still make this months rent) OMAC and Brother Eye get a little better acquainted, with OMAC finding out the real purpose of his existence, to fight the evil Mister Big.
OMAC has been presented in DC mythos in a variety of ways. Originally, loosely connected to another Kirby book, Kamandi, it is revealed that Buddy Blank was Kamandi’s grandfather, and that OMAC takes place just before the “Great Disaster” in that book. I actually thought that Kamandi came out the same year as OMAC and was going to do a double post,but the book actually came out in ’72, so I missed it. After the 8 issues that Kirby did OMAC was pretty much left alone, with the exception of a short Jim Starlin written back-up, until 1991, when John Byrne wrote and drew a black and white 4 issue prestige format series. The series attempts to conclude Buddy’s quest for Mister Big and tie up loose ends left in the series. I thought that the series was good on its own, but didn’t really flow well with what Kirby wrote. It was definitely a Byrne creation.
Brother Eye later showed up again in an OMAC Project series written by Greg Rucka that led into Infinite Crisis. It was AMAZING! One of the first DC books I ever read. This book was quite different from the original. It featured a hijacked Brother Eye satellite that had been built by Batman turn regular Joes into metahuman hunters. They have the chest eye logo and the Ares style mohawk, but that is about all the connection. An 8 issue OMAC series by Bruce Jones spun out of the events of that series, but I have not read it so I have no clue what happens in it. Buddy and his grandson from another world are reintroduced shortly in the Countdown to Final Crisis Maxi series. He becomes OMAC in the last issue of the series.
OMAC finally came into main DC continuity with the New 52 relaunch. This OMAC is very similar to the first but is, instead of Buddy Blank, this OMAC is Kevin Kho. Sharing many similarities with the original, this book seemed like a love letter to the character, and was written by DC head honcho Dan Didio and comic wizard Keith Giffen. This series was also cancelled after 8 issues. Huh. The Brother Eye from this version ends up turning all of the heroes of 35 years in the future into killer robots, and leads to Terry McGuinness (Batman Beyond) into the past as part of the current running Futures End series.
Gonna be honest. I’m not sure why I like OMAC, but I do. It’s not just that its Kirby, because I don’t like any of his DC creations as much. I don’t know if it’s the lone soldier with the help of his robot mentor that I like about it. I don’t know if it’s just that every issue I read of Kirby’s run was great and I hold onto the nostalgia of that experience. I don’t know. That’s how it is for characters like Deadman and the Question, great runs just do wonders for my perception of C level characters. It could also just be that he looks freaking awesome.
I don’t know if this was Kirby’s intention, but I feel like Brother Eye is kind of like God, loosely. Brother eye does some weird stuff that God would never do, but just like God gives you strength when you need it, Brother Eye does the same for Buddy. and even though Buddy never sees him, he knows of Brother Eye’s presence and has a trusting relationship with him. He shows where OMAC should go, but still gives the choice (kind of, OMAC is different from Buddy or Kevin) as to how he should go about what he wants or even to follow his will. Brother Eye keeps watch over Buddy and keeps him safe, like any guardian should. Again, maybe this is just me pulling at something that was not intended.
Greg Rucka, because I mention you so often in this blog I think you are my guy for this project. If you ever want to write a series just for me, I would love a Deadman/Question team up, with the villain being OMAC in the beginning, but really its just a classic misunderstanding and they align to fight the real menace: your pick.
Thanks for reading!
Images from https://blogintomystery.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/omac7.jpg, http://s785.photobucket.com/user/dcbloodlines/media/OMAC1September-October1974-1.jpg.html, http://s16.photobucket.com/user/brigante133/media/omac-1.jpg.html, and http://static.comicvine.com/uploads/original/3/31666/1998027-eye_2.jpg