Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Quarter Bin 114 "Omega Men #38"

Omega Men #38 (DC)
from May 1986

So this is how the story originally ended.  I love that cover.  As a huge, huge fan of Tom King's Omega Men, it looks relevant.  Reading the actual comic, the contents are relevant, too.  Surprisingly relevant.  There's Primus and Kalista leading a popular revolt against the Citadel.  I mean, that's the crux of the story even in King's version.  Put aside everything else, and King was telling exactly the same story.  I mean, clearly he tells it differently, but it's the same story all the same.  So that's really, really good to see.  I mean, there's plenty I don't recognize, whole characters, but there's also Tigorr and Doc, regardless of how different they are here.  Planets in the Vega System like Karna and Euphorix.  I mean, obviously King was drawing on existing material, but it's just...really great to see some of that stuff, and identify it so easily, and see the connective tissue...

It's fascinating, it really is.  So I get to the letters column, and I see what readers were thinking, and...

"Today I found out DC is cancelling..."

"It lacks direction."

"Even I felt my loyalties waning after the poor showing this issue."

To think even when everything was done absolutely right, Omega Men still suffered poor sales, it's kind of like the concept is cursed, really.  The letters and their responses from the editor present a heartbreaking portrait.  It's easy, in letters columns, to see how passionate creators really are, which is half of why they're so valuable.  I mean, sometimes they're clearly just the creators blowing smoke up their readers...well, you know, creating a cult-like atmosphere (which has become all too common in the columns being put together these days), but sometimes they seem absolutely genuine.

Or maybe it's just me reading into this one, because I know what happened next, well, several nexts later, and I find it so easy to find parallels...

The creators of the original Omega Men series have interesting legacies.  Todd Klein, the writer, ended up having a hugely distinguished career as a letterer.  He's singled out in these letters, as indicated above, as failing to present a clear picture of the series, which is kind of funny, since King clearly picked it out years later so effectively, and this issue proves that he didn't have to look very hard to find it.  Which means it's sad he never really got a chance to pursue writing in comics, even though he now seems like a visionary.  Still, legendary status in any creative capacity is no small potatoes.

Shawn McManus, the artist, did "A Game of You" in Neil Gaiman's Sandman, and so he's guaranteed to be remembered, too.  Seems he caught a number of bad breaks while working on Omega Men, necessitating apparently inadequate fill-in replacements on a number of issues.  But that cover...! 

So I'm very, very glad I found this issue and decided to read it.  Knowing the Omega Men existed before Tom King is one thing, but to see what they actually were, and how they originally ended their stories, is quite another. 

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