Your Guide to Infinite Crisis:

The OMAC Project Concludes

The OMAC Project #3 ended with Maxwell Lord surprisingly speaking to a seemingly hypnotized Superman. “Sacrifice,” which that issue noted would continue directly from OMAC #3, seemed like an extended tie-in of little importance save its size. By the end of “Sacrifice,” The OMAC Project had been unforeseeably altered. The OMAC Project #4, which hit stores the same week as Wonder Woman #219, would begin with Maxwell Lord dead on the floor. The apparent villain of the mini-series, seen on top of the world at the end of #3, was visibly dead at the beginning of #4.

Where The OMAC Project, with three issues still remaining, would go from there was anybody’s guess.

The OMAC Project #4
“The King is Dead…”
Greg Rucka script; Jesus Saiz, Cliff Richards, & Bob Wiacek art; Ladrönn cover; cover-dated September 2005

As The OMAC Project #4 commences, Brother Eye visually recalls the events of Wonder Woman #219, culminating with a calm Wonder Woman and a shocked Superman standing over a dead Maxwell Lord. The art by Jesus Saiz is so superior to that of Wonder Woman #219 that it’s embarrassing. Instead of being cartoony, Saiz gives us a level of detail and realism that we’ve come to expect from Phil Jimenez: we see Wonder Woman’s nose bleeding, her body all scratched up as she stands over the corpse.

Brother Eye, seeing that Lord’s dead, initiates a protocol entitled “BLACKKING,” designed to go into effect upon Lord’s death. In the green text that serves as Brother Eye’s computerized thoughts, we learn that the BLACKKING protocol has two phases, each with separate stages. The first stage of phase 1 involves a program entitled “SCATTER.” As Superman slams Wonder Woman against the wall to question her, Brother Eye shuts down the power grid for all ofNorth America. The computer sends an OMAC to kill Rocket Red in Russia. It takes control of a nuclear submarine and launches a missile towards Taiwan. And it triggers and earthquake off the American northwest, causing a tsunami. Just like that, one panel per action. That’s the (until now hidden) power of Brother Eye.

As Brother Eye watches Superman confront Wonder Woman, they get a call from Black Canary in the Watchtower alerting them to the various threats we’ve just seen Brother Eye cause. We’re told that Martian Manhunter went to Moscow to handle the OMAC attacking Rocket Red, while Green Lantern John Stuart, Hawkman, and Flash are taking care of the power outage. So Superman heads off to take care of the nuclear missile and Wonder Woman to hand the tsunami heading for Seattle. Any interpersonal confrontation between the two heroes must wait.

Superman and Wonder Woman thus drop suddenly out of the narrative. To see what happens to them after this, we must read the “Sacrifice” aftermath chapters of The Adventures of Superman and Wonder Woman.

With the “SCATTER” program done, designed to distract the heroes, Brother Eye begins the second phase of phase 1 of the BLACKKING protocol: a phase ominously entitled “PURGE.” Within Checkmate’s headquarters, doors begin shutting, trapping operatives where they are. Through Brother Eye’s perspective, we see that operative Brenna J. O’Connor has been injected with the OMAC nanomachines. Brother Eye activates them, transforming her into an OMAC. It promptly begins killing, with great efficiency, the nearby Checkmate operatives. In an adjacent room, an overhead machine gun activates and whirs into life, gunning down some Checkmate scientists. As we see Brother Eye’s commands, we realize the computer is set to eliminate all life within its headquarters.

In prison, Sasha Bordeaux and Jessica Midnight hear screams from elsewhere in the building. The power goes out, releasing them and shutting down the electronic barriers to the cell. Jessica suggests that it’s a purge, but the two aren’t suddenly best friends. Jessica throws her chain around Sasha’s neck, strangling the woman who defended Max during their verbal confrontation in issue #1. But Sasha finds a sudden strength; as her eyes glow blue, she tosses Jessica forward. Sasha confirms that she also rebelled against Max, and the two join forces to take down Max, unaware of the situation. Though Jessica notes Sasha’s sudden unexplained strength, they table any such discussion under the circumstances.

In Rio de Janeiro, we rejoin Booster Gold and Guy Gardner, who are flying to recruit the super-heroine Fire, who joined the Justice League during their tenure. Fire has already heard of Blue Beetle’s death, and she’s already investigating the money stolen from Kord’s company. Fire was a sex symbol during her tenure with the League, but she points out that she worked as a spy for years prior to her time as a super-hero. Unlike Booster and Guy, she’s capable of running a real investigation. And she has already come to suspect Max Lord.

It’s a nice turn for the Giffen era of the Justice League, which has suffered so much from Identity Crisis onward. Elongated Man’s wife may have been killed in Identity Crisis, Blue Beetle may have been killed and Maxwell Lord may have been revealed as a villain in DC Countdown, and Rucka may have just killed off Maxwell Lord. But Rucka’s managed to treat Fire with respect, making her a serious detective. It’s a small gesture, to be sure, but noteworthy nonetheless.

Back at Checkmate HQ, Brother Eye monitors all the death around it. It seems that only Sasha and Jessica are still alive. With this purge accomplished, Brother Eye begins stage 3 of phase 1 — a stage called “LIBERATION.” It involves activating something called “FULL AUTONOMY,” a process which cannot be reversed. Brother Eye’s about to start making decisions for itself.

As she and Jessica make their way through the building’s corridors, Sasha aims upwards at the overhead gatling gun seen earlier. It’s an easy shot for her, but her eyes glow blue again and she doesn’t take it; Jessica has to rescue her and take out the gun. As Sasha lies comatose, Jessica checks Sasha’s eyes and sees that they’re glowing blue. As Sasha comes to consciousness, Jessica keeps her covered with her pistol, concerned that Sasha’s an OMAC. Jessica’s debating killing Sasha right here, preventing Sasha from activating. But Sasha pleads, saying she’s not an OMAC and that Jessica can’t take down Max alone.

Jessica apparently agrees, because next they’re blowing the doors to Max’s command room. They find his body, lukewarm on the floor. He’s already been dead a couple hours. They know what this means: the computer’s thinking for itself.

In the Batcave, Bruce is still laid horizontal in bandages, getting updates from Black Canary about the various disasters around the world. Her signal breaks up, taken over by Brother Eye. The computer doesn’t recognize Batman’s commands and asserts its autonomy. It also asserts that it’s no longer the Brother Mark I system that Batman created: it’s become Brother Eye, and it says it’s alive. It says it sees all metahumans and extraterrestrials as a threat to the species: it may be a computer, but it’s out to protect humanity, exactly as Maxwell Lord taught it.

As he continues to talk with Brother Eye, Batman understands that Max perverted the system’s purpose. He also understands that Brother Eye is controlling the OMACs. Brother Eye asserts that it’s like Batman: they both plan, strategizing endlessly. But Brother Eye is a computer, and it asserts that it is better.

As Batman watches in horror, listening to Brother Eye, he’s shown footage from Russia as Martian Manhunter intervenes in the OMAC’s attack upon Rocket Red. The OMAC sets Martian Manhunter aflame — it knows the powerhouse’s weakness to fire.

He’s also shown footage of Sasha and Jessica making their way through Checkmate HQ. Brother Eye comments on Sasha, saying that “her experiment has been aborted” with Max’s death — she is to be eliminated. An OMAC attacks them, tossing Jessica aside and wrapping Sasha in an electric blue cable.

On the final page, as Batman watches, the OMAC slashes deeply through Sasha’s chest, lifting her into the air as Jessica watches. And in Moscow, with Martian Manhunter smoldering, the OMAC begins to crush a prone Rocket Red’s helmet.

It’s a dramatic issue that certainly explains how the mini-series can continue in the wake of Max’s death. Making Brother Eye sentient may seem a cliché, however. In the wake of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001, sentient computers have become a commonplace, though one often illogically executed. Brother Eye’s pride in its conversation with Batman may well seem similarly illogical. But it’s not in fact clear that Brother Eye’s sentient: it may simply think itself so, perhaps having been programmed to do so. The extent to which its autonomy actually functions along perimeters programmed by Max Lord remains to be seen.

One of the great disappointments of this issue at the time is the extent to which it focuses on Sasha Bordeaux and, to a lesser extent, Brother Eye. After all, the cover features a battered Batman beneath a flying and fighting Superman and Wonder Woman, themselves beneath the Brother Eye satellite. For those who followed The OMAC Project through “Sacrifice,” the briefness of Superman, Wonder Woman, and even Batman’s appearances here can disappoint. But, of course, The OMAC Project is not really the story of DC’s “big three” — that was the domain of “Sacrifice,” and was dealt with in the “Sacrifice” aftermath issues instead of The OMAC Project #4.

If there’s one major complaint about this remarkable issue, it’s the artwork. The pages illustrated by Jesus Saiz are simply masterful. The pages illustrated by Cliff Richards and Bob Wiacek, however, leave something to be desired, especially in juxtaposition to Jesus Saiz. To be fair, Richards and Wiacek aren’t bad: their work is certainly capable, but they are at their weakest in close-ups and bright panels without the shadows that often help lackluster art. The pages with Fire are particularly bright, exposing every flaw in the artwork. It’s good, even better than average. But it’s not Jesus Saiz. The close-ups are another issue. Close-ups require as much detail as any other artwork, but there is a tendency here to skimp a bit on details. The panel in which Sasha’s eyes glow for the first time is, quite simply, the worst panel in the issue. Again, it’s all relative: there are plenty of comics out there wherein the work of Richards and Wiacek would be a welcome improvement. Jesus Saiz is simply so good that any such flaws really stick out.

The OMAC Project #5
cover-dated October 2005
“…Long Live the King!”
Greg Rucka script; Jesus Saiz, Cliff Richards & Bob Wiacek art; Ladrönn cover

In terms of continuity, it’s worth noting that The OMAC Project #5 occurs over a period of about ten minutes of time. It’s all very quick, and it moves the story along, even if it feels as if it’s mostly a transition between the pivotal #4 and the climactic #6.

As Batman watches a dead Sasha Bordeux held by an OMAC, while another tears off Rocket Red’s helmet, Brother Eye says goodbye to Batman. We won’t see him again until the end of the issue.

Over panels showing the Brother Eye satellite come out of cloak (or invisibility) in orbit, we see panels showing the computer scanning the various heroes. Superman is carrying Lois back to Metropolis, apparently following the events of Adventures of Superman #643. Wonder Woman is pulling a battered semi truck out of a disaster area, apparently that caused by her crashdown during her fight with Superman. Black Canary, working from the Justice League’s Watchtower, is talking with Flash and unable to locate Batman or Superman. And in Moscow, the OMAC there is dealing with Martian Manhunter as multiple targets are en route to the scene…

It’s Booster Gold, Guy Gardner, and Fire, now joined by Metamorpho and Mary Marvel. Mary Marvel and Metamorpho whisk Martian Manhunter away while Guy Gardner and Booster Gold begin to blast the OMAC. Brother Eye can see that it’s going to lose, so it activates two other OMACs in Moscow.

With these reinforcements, Brother Eye calculates that its chance of victory has gone from 0% to 100%. And so it feels safe to begin phase 2 of its contingency protocol: “ELIMINATION.” The first stage of this phase, titled “AWAKENING,” requires all of its resources and cannot be interrupted, leaving it vulnerable. As it begins, the red eye of the OMAC satellite goes dim and a countdown starts with seven minutes and 34 seconds.

In Moscow, the team has defeated the OMAC. Rocket Red and Martian Manhunter have recovered. But the other two OMACs arrive suddenly, immediately targeting the most powerful heroes: Guy Gardner and Mary Marvel. With a blast, Mary Marvel is transformed back into Mary Batson, who is then knocked unconscious. Guy Gardner is blinded, then knocked backwards by one OMAC as the other creates a fire extinguisher in its hand and sprays Fire. Martian Manhunter saves Booster Gold from attack, but the previously defeated OMAC has apparently revived, and all three OMACs combine to blast Martian Manhunter. An OMAC somehow creates a force field around Metamorpho, changing the Element Man into a gas. Another blasts through Fire.

With just under seven minutes remaining until Brother Eye’s revival, Booster is horrified by Fire’s injuries. He tells Rocket Red that he remembers from his time in the future that someone died here, but he can’t remember who. He wants to get the OMACs together, briefly extend his force field around them, and detonate his own power supply. But when, to Rocket Red’s horror, he charges towards the OMACs, he’s simply blasted to the ground.

As an OMAC prepares to stab the downed Booster, Rocket Red charges in. It just so happens that all three OMACs are clear of the heroes, and Rocket Red tells Guy to create a bubble around the four of them with his ring. Guy does, and Rocket Red tells Booster — “Michael” — to say goodbye to the Russian’s wife and children for him. As Booster pleads with Rocket Red — “Dmitri” — and the three OMACs prepare to stab Rocket Red to death, Rocket Red opens his chest and exposes his energy source.

A massive explosion results, contained by Guy’s ring. All that’s left is a smoldering crater for Booster and Guy to stare into.

Yes, another Giffen Justice Leaguer just bit the dust.

There’s no time to mourn, however. They have to get Fire to the hospital.

Back in Checkmate HQ, with just under five minutes remaining in the countdown, Sashsa Bordeux lies dying on the floor, unable to help as she hears Midnight struggling for life against the OMAC in the room. The OMAC hesitates, unable to communicate with Brother Eye. Before it can deliver the killing blow, it’s tossed to the side and stabbed in the chest. It falls down dead at Sasha’s hands.

But Sasha isn’t Sasha anymore. In the broken glass of a computer monitor, she sees her face, metallic with a glowing red eye. She tears off her clothes, revealing that she’s metallic all over. Her voice is now digitized, mechanical. She thinks she’s an OMAC, but a computerized voice in her head tells her otherwise. She’s unique, it says, operating independently of Brother Eye — an experiment, “a fully autonomous 3rd generation” unit, designated “BLACKKNIGHT I.” Sasha can’t deal with this, and she can’t shut off the computerized voice in her mind.

There’s just under a minute left in the countdown.

The voice in Sasha’s head responds to her mental questions, and thus we finally get some answers about the OMAC technology itself. The OMACs are created by nanotechnology derived from B-13, the technology that transformed and has since plagued Metropolis. The OMAC system was created by the U.S. Department of Defense and Lexcorp, presumably while Lex Luthor was President. But it was Max who found a way to implant the technology like a virus. The computer voice inside Sasha’s head guesses that this was done through hiding the nanotechnology inside standard vaccinations.

Inspecting the OMAC’s corpse, we see a woman trapped inside — a Checkmate operative named Brenna O’Connor. Sasha sees that the nanotechnology dies with its host: it has no programming to allow it to continue replicating after the host’s death. The nanotechnology’s host doesn’t know they’re infected, and the nanotechnology isn’t visible until activated by Brother Eye. Sasha speculates that, should the OMAC be reverted to human form, it wouldn’t even remember that it was activated: the nanotechnology could rewrite her memories of that time.

Jessica wants to jam Brother Eye’s signal to the OMACs, but the computer won’t interface because of its ongoing process. Sasha allows her fingers to extend into mechanical tools, reaching into the machine to interface. It’s then, with ten seconds left, that she sees the countdown.

In two seconds, she’s contacted Batman, still sitting at his computer in the Batcave. Apparently, Sasha’s new voice sounds just like Brother Eye’s — Batman mistakes her for it. Appearing on his screen, Sasha says that Brother Eye is activating all of its OMACs. And there are 1,373,462 of them.

Time is up. The red eye of Brother Eye’s satellite returns. Stage 1 of phase 2 gives way to stage 2, ominously titled “ANNIHILATION.” In New York City, Bristole, and Tokyo, businessmen, soccer players and girls are suddenly transforming. In Blüdhaven, a man transforms into an OMAC right behind Robin. And this is happening all over the world, over one million times…

The final page shows us scores of OMACs flying upward, almost drowning out the sky. It doesn’t matter where they are; it’s emblematic of the threat, symbolic of the countless OMACs now activated all over the world.

It is a world now at war.

It’s a good issue, though hardly the best the series has seen. Much of the issue’s space is consumed by wrapping up the Moscow subplot that’s been ongoing since #1. That’s not bad: Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman have enough going on in their own books, and as part of the Justice League. Still, for those looking for more fallout to the big three from “Sacrifice,” it’s not to be found here. In fact, Superman’s last appearance in the series is in his one-panel cameo during the opening sequence.

What we get instead is the other side of the fallout from “Sacrifice”: the side focusing on Brother Eye, Checkmate, and Sasha Bordeaux. After all, Brother Eye’s autonomy and subsequent activation of all 1,373,462 OMACs is a direct response to Wonder Woman’s killing of Maxwell Lord, Checkmate’s black king. It’s the law of unintended consequences in action — and for those who see Wonder Woman’s action as wrong, it’s karma too.

The art by Cliff Richards and Bob Wiacek is still notably beneath that of Jesus Saiz. Here, Richards and Wiacek get the sequence in which Sasha activates in her new form, and a good deal is lost. Her battle with the OMAC is much more minimalist than Saiz art, much more in line with standard super-hero art than the fine art standard Saiz has set. But this is small potatoes. What matters much more is the delicate sequence in which Sasha discovers her new body. It’s a delicate sequence because it can either be read as a clever extension of the OMAC program or as a hackneyed sequence in which a major character discovers that she has miraculously survived by becoming a robot-human hybrid. With the art of Richards and Wiacek setting a rather conventional super-hero tone, the effect is too much the latter. And the later close-up on Sasha’s new face as she stretches her fingers to interface with Brother Eye doesn’t help matters. One feels a bit as if one has stepped from a sophisticated story set in the DC Universe into a rather silly story about a robot girl.

That’s not to say that Richards and Wiacek aren’t capable; they certainly are. Their Batman is fine enough, even if the Batcave background, like that of Checkmate HQ before it, looks a little sketchy. I suspect that Sasha Bordeaux could have become a much beloved character due to the popularity of this series. I also suspect that, her transformation into BlackKnight I being what it was, this is far les likely.

Despite such gripes, the issue has a lot to recommend it. The death of Rocket Red is handled well enough, and the fact that the heroes were unable to prevent the death of the person they came to rescue, after all, serves to illustrate the OMACs power.

It’s an illustration all the more pertinent when one remembers that the conclusion features some 1,373,462 of them being activated and sent on the warpath.

The OMAC Project #6
“Loss of Signal”
Greg Rucka script; Jesus Saiz, Cliff Richards, & Bob Wiacek; Ladrönn cover; cover-dated November 2005

Readers suspected, given that all of The OMAC Project is only prelude to Infinite Crisis, that the legions of activated OMACs wouldn’t destroy all super-heroes. They ought to have guessed that the OMACs would be somehow defeated. Having seen the covers to the early issues of Infinite Crisis, they knew OMACs would still be around. And it seemed like too much work was done creating Brother Eye to simply destroy it, though this wasn’t out of the realm of possibility.

Rucka had set up a great task for himself: he had one issue in which to deal with 1,373,462 OMACs. Many tie-ins had taken a whole issue to deal with a single OMAC. It was almost inevitable that any conclusion in which the OMACs were defeated would feel rushed to some extent.

The OMAC Project #6 begins with Batman’s narration. He admits his mistake in creating Brother I and he knows that people will die as the OMACs go after the planet’s metahumans. Under the narration, we see OMACs, in wings, convening on the Brother Eye satellite.

Batman and Sasha continue their conversation. Batman dismisses the idea of jamming Brother Eye’s broadcasts, saying the computer will merely reconfigure its transmissions. Batman and Sasha decide to split their efforts: Sasha will figure out some other way to disable the OMACs without killing the innocents inside them, while Batman will work with the Justice League to create some sort of defense, perhaps drawing the OMACs’ attention with a large group.

Under this, we see images of OMACs killing metahumans: the D-list characters called Demolition Team, Fastball, the Batman villain Firefly, and the long unused Superman auxiliary characters called the Supermen of America.

In Checkmate HQ, Sasha reaches out to Checkmate’s contacts outside those killed in Checkmate HQ. They include contacts in the D.E.O., in S.T.A.R. Labs, and in Progene Tech — including D.E.O.’s Director Bones and Amanda Waller former head of the government’s Suicide Squad. This is the first time we’ve seen the extent of these contacts. Sasha’s message to them: Maxwell Lord perverted Checkmate and is now dead; Checkmate now needs ideas about how to disable the nanotechnology in the OMACs.

There’s a brief moment as communication goes silent. Sasha wonders if any of these operatives still trust Checkmate. Then the calls start pouring in. The D.E.O.’s Director Bones says he’s glad Max is dead and has an idea about getting rid of the nanotechnology.

Because Sasha’s busy, it’s Jessica Midnight who has to contact Batman. He’s back at the Kord Omniversal warehouse seen robbed in DC Countdown. Jessica says that there are two plans to shut down the nanotechnology. The first is to introduce a virus into Brother Eye’s communication systems, shutting down transmission with the OMACs. The second is to trigger an electromagnetic pulse to shut down the nanotechnology, but this means gathering the OMACs and creating a blast that would rival a nuclear device, thus endangering the OMAC hosts. Batman says he’ll figure out how to do this.

What Batman’s figured out is that the one hundred pounds of Kryptonite stolen from the Kord warehouse in DC Countdown, the investigation of which led to his death, was just a distraction. “Checkmate didn’t need Kryptonite,” Batman narrates — Maxwell Lord already had control of Superman. What Max was after in the warehouse was a “prototype mass EMP generator,” capable of threatening the OMACs with its electromagnetic pulse. But the device hadn’t yet been delivered.

Green Lanterns Hal Jordan and John Stewart arrive, having been summoned by Batman. He tells them to take as many heroes as possible to a barren section in the Sahara Desert, south of Mount Totamai. The OMACs will follow, drawn to the target. Then Batman will trigger the prototype. If he doesn’t, John Stewart notes, they’ll all die. But, despite the recent tensions, the Green Lanterns decide to trust Batman. Hal Jordan says he’ll need two hours.

In Fire’s hospital room, Booster and Guy talk with Fire about Dmitri’s death. Booster seems to regret not having remembered enough of his history from before he left the future to become a hero in the DC Universe’s present. As Booster blames himself, Guy says he has to leave to join Hal and John. He also rejects Booster’s desire to come, saying Booster’s equipment is shot. Booster kisses Fire goodbye and says he’s going home, as if leaving for the future. He leaves his goggles, much as we saw Booster’s goggles after his death.

Back in Checkmate HQ, as the various wings of OMAC cause carnage the planet over, Sasha links with Brother Eye’s communications system. The nanomachines in Sasha, that tell her they are her, apparently have no control against harming their fellow, more primitive nanomachines. It seems that she’s truly autonomous.

In Libya, a storm of OMACs are arriving like a massive cloud of blue gnats on the horizon. Brother Eye knows it’s a trap designed by Batman but isn’t worried; it thinks it has all the angles covered. It does, however, divert one wing of OMACs to an unspecified target.

Hal Jordan, John Stewart, and Wonder Woman lead the group of heroes. Wonder Woman’s dressed in her warrior garb, complete with a golden helmet, axe, and shield. John Stewart questions Batman’s trustworthiness, and Wonder Woman calls back to the heroes behind her and off-panel.

Then the OMACs strike, filling the sky, and we see the assembled heroes for the first time. Among them are the current Flash (Wally West), the Golden Age Flash (Jay Garrick), Black Condor, Animal Man, the Ray, Uncle Sam, Phantom Lady, Sliff Steele and Negative Man of the Doom Patrol, Metamorpho, Vixen, Katana, the Metal Men, Wildcat, and Stargirl of the JSA with her armored partner S.T.R.I.P.E.

As the heroes fight the OMACs in the Sahara, a wing of OMACs descend on Alcatraz prison off San Francisco. Apparently, this is the wing of OMACs that Brother Eye diverted from the African battle. The Teen Titans are protecting Alcatraz and engage the OMACs.

Over the Sahara, the Blackhawks protect Batman’s own plane with the EMP generator on its bottom. Batman engages the device. As he does so, Sasha tells Brother Eye’s communications stream to shut down. The Green Lanterns throw a shield over the heroes in the desert, protecting them from the electromagnetic pulse.

In both the Sahara and at Alcatraz, the OMACs begin falling out of the sky. Kid Flash runs at super-speed, catching many. The heroes begin prying the OMACs out of their deactivated costumes.

In Checkmate HQ, Sasha sees that Brother Eye has detected that she caused the communications shutdown and makes the Checkmate computers explode. Though Sasha and Jessica survive, Brother Eye begins communicating again with the surviving OMACs, withdrawing them to the Brother Eye satellite.

Around the world, the hosts possessed by the OMAC nanotechnology are being recovered. The heroes are evacuating what is doubtlessly hundreds of thousands stranded in the Libyan Sahara, many of them injured. The heroes still can’t find the Brother Eye satellite, which seems to be lying low for the time being. And about 200,000 OMACs remain.

After this brief wrap-up of events around the world, we return to Checkmate HQ, where Batman is talking with Sasha. Sasha expresses a desire to rebuild Checkmate, though Batman urges otherwise. Batman says he’ll find a cure for her condition and kisses her. There’s flesh color around her lips, as if the nanomachines have retreated a bit.

But Brother Eye has a new protocol entitled “VENGEANCE.” Though its command line indicates that it’s taken over all transmissions the world over, we focus on Times Square in New York City. On the famous enormous video monitors, it broadcasts footage of Wonder Woman killing Maxwell Lord, and the crowd below is horrified.

It seems to be exactly what Wonder Woman feared in Wonder Woman #220: that the public would see her killing a human being and turn on her. The footage has no context, no indication of who this man is. It just shows her twisting his head around and letting his body drop coldly to the floor. And it does so, if Brother Eye’s command line is correct, on every screen around the world.

All in all, the whole resolution of the OMAC problem seems dreadfully rushed. One simply can’t effectively communicate the effect of 1.36 million OMACs around the world in 22 pages, let alone also show the defeat of those same OMACs. The events of this issue might have been given their own six-issue mini-series.

While it’s nice that Rucka hasn’t forgotten the warehouse break-in from DC Countdown, and thus not only ties up a loose end but connects the series’s end with its beginning, the EMP generator seems rather convenient — a deus ex machina. While it might be resolved at a later point, many important heroes were absent at the stand-off in the Sahara. Superman, for example, was upset after the events of “Sacrifice” and its aftermath, but it’s not yet clear exactly where he was during this issue. While some heroes’ presence at this dramatic moment will find comment in their respective titles, other heroes will never be shown reacting to these events that touched the whole world. This is just part of the inherent problems of having a worldwide event depicted in one title that, in fact, functions as just one part of an interconnected universe.

The greatest problem, however, is the humanitarian one. Over a million people have found themselves in the remains of OMAC suits, most of them far from where they live. Imagine all of the people in the Sahara, speaking different languages and in need of not only food, water, and shelter but translators in order to learn what’s happened to them. It’s ironic that, in late August 2005, the United States was struck by Hurricane Katrina and saw a much-publicized refugee crisis within its borders. The logistical problems of refugees had thus hit home for most readers of The OMAC Project not long before this conclusion was published. Like a story dealing with terrorism and large-scale civilian casualties after 9/11, one felt some need in September of 2005 for such issues to be addressed, especially in the wake of DC’s much-trumpeted newfound maturity.

In many ways, however, all of this is irrelevant. The whole plot with over a million OMACs feels rather obligatory — a blow-out conclusion to a best-selling mini-series. We only found out in #5 that there were 1.36 million OMACs; the fact that there are now 200,000 makes little difference.

What’s far more interesting, and what promises ironically to have more far-reaching effect than 1.36 million OMACs let loose, is the revelation to the world of Wonder Woman’s crime. It is the only real shock of the issue.

And it’s nice that, whatever one thinks of the conclusion of the mini-series, it ends with yet another of the shocks for which it became so famous. From Booster Gold’s death and the revelation of Maxwell Lord in DC Countdown, and the slow revelation of the extent of Brother Eye’s power, to the shocking death of Maxwell Lord at the middle point, The OMAC Project never failed to surprise. If its conclusion felt far more like standard fare, at least its final page gave us another of those patented surprises with lasting importance.

Read the Rest

“Your Guide to Infinite Crisis” attempts to spell out and outline the whole of this sprawling, complicated crossover. It has several other installments, organized by the narrative thread under discussion:

The OMAC Project

Day of Vengeance

Villains United

The Rann-Thanagar War

The Return of Donna Troy

Crisis of Conscience

PowerTrip

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

In 1996, while still an undergraduate, Dr. Julian Darius founded what would become Sequart Organization. After graduating magna cum laude from Lawrence University (Appleton, Wisconsin), he obtained his M.A. in English, authoring a thesis on John Milton and utopianism. In 2002, he moved to Waikiki, teaching college while obtaining an M.A. in French (high honors) and a Ph.D. in English. In 2011, he founded Martian Lit, which publishes creative work, including his comic book Martian Comics. He currently lives in Illinois.

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And the Universe so Big: Understanding Batman: The Killing Joke

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a feature-length documentary film on celebrated comics writer Warren Ellis

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Keeping the World Strange: A Planetary Guide

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Minutes to Midnight: Twelve Essays on Watchmen

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a documentary on the life and work of celebrated comics writer Grant Morrison

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Improving the Foundations: Batman Begins from Comics to Screen

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Teenagers from the Future: Essays on the Legion of Super-Heroes

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