By: Jeff Lemire (writer), Alberto Ponticelli (artist), Jose Villarrubia (colorist)
The Story: Man-made monster versus monster made of man! That might not have made sense!
The Review: I’ll be honest; I made a strict, conscious choice to avoid O.M.A.C. from the moment it was announced. My reasoning, perhaps unfair, was the idea of Dan Didio working on the writing end of things seemed like a very risky one. Nothing I read of his work (either on The Outsiders or his Metal Men feature in Wednesday Comics) proved otherwise. By the time strong reviews convinced me to try out O.M.A.C., it was too late, and it was on its way to cancellation.
So I went into this issue without, as the editor’s caption on the first panel suggested, any familiarity with the events of Didio’s end of the crossover. Fortunately, you don’t need to read his companion title to enjoy this one. Lemire starts his story by following Frankenstein from the moment he receives his mission to take down the One Man Army Corps, and at no point do you feel like you’re missing anything crucial.
Even better, the issue is just as enjoyable throughout as it has been all along. It’s great fun seeing all these various, acronymed organizations in the DCU beginning to intersect, and the tension that naturally accompanies the overlap of authority of such agencies. Personally, I’d bet my money on S.H.A.D.E.; they may lack the class of the more espionage-oriented Checkmate, but nothing beats their mad-scientist tech, like Palmer’s “recovery nanopires” showing up in virtual reality at the last minute to defeat Brother Eye’s invasion of their computer systems.
Besides, S.H.A.D.E. has the superior cast of characters by far. Admittedly, I’m not really familiar with any member of Checkmate (besides the infamous Maxwell Lord, still working in good grace at this point, and the less-renowned Sergeant Steel), but come on. Could anyone really beat the sheer audaciousness of Frankenstein or Father Time?
In a weird way, the two complement each other very well. Father Time’s outrageous cockiness is a joy every time it manifests (to Lord: “The world’s getting weirder, and you’re a dinosaur.”), yet there’s a genius tactical brain in that little girl’s body, as he gambles everything to capture Brother Eye. Meanwhile, Frank comes off aloof and stolid, but he’ll surprise you with a frenetic energy of his own when his blood gets going: “I am the undead prince of vengeance.” But while the two evidently work very well together, Frank won’t stand for Time’s obscure goals if they go against his finely-tuned sense of justice, a conflict this issue foreshadows.
Many crossovers tend to leave the ongoing story of a title hanging, but Lemire manages to work in a fairly important plot point regarding Frank’s origins. While most of us are well aware of how Frank came to life, we forget it came at the cost of the body parts obtained by various dead people. After his encounter with O.M.A.C., he learns from Nina that given time, she can uncover the DNA sequence of each person he’s made from. Who knows what significance this knowledge will bring, but be sure Lemire will know how to deliver it for max impact.
Ponticelli proves in this issue he can do more than draw monsters that look frightening and adorable at the same time. We’ve seen how he brings a rough fleshiness to the characters that looks very organic, but his depiction of S.H.A.D.E.net’s virtual world has a very smooth, convincing symmetry indicating Ponticelli is well capable of going the other direction of sci-fi aesthetics. I don’t talk enough about Villarrubia’s colors, which vary from dark and earthy to pastel and ethereal when needed.
Conclusion: With this first mini-crossover of the new 52, Lemire sets a good example for crossovers to come: entertaining clashes of characters, a solid basis for the plot, and some substance for the title’s personal direction.
– Minhquan Nguyen
Some Musings: – Honestly, if I could do it, I’d slash off O.M.A.C.’s ridiculous Mohawk for a trophy, too. It’d make a good story at a dinner party, at least.