Your Guide to Infinite Crisis:

Tie-Ins to The OMAC Project #6

We’ve already seen that, chronologically, Superman #220 occurs during The OMAC Project #6. But a number of other comics also tied into The OMAC Project #6.

Only one takes place during the mass confrontation that issue: Robin #143. At the end of The OMAC Project #5, as Brother Eye activated the world’s OMACs, a panel showed one activating near Robin in the city of Blüdhaven. The OMACs revert to human form due to Sasha’s actions in The OMAC Project #6, and this is reflected in Robin #143.

That issue won’t be discussed here. Three other issues will instead.

Superman #222
“Safe Harbor”
Mark Verheiden script; Ed Benes and Joe Prado pencils; Mariah Benes, Rob Lea, Alex Lei, and Joe Prado inks; Ed Benes cover; cover-dated December 2005

In the timeline of The OMAC Project, an uncertain amount of time occurs between the mass confrontation with Brother Eye and the last page of The OMAC Project #6, on which Brother Eye reveals Wonder Woman’s murder to the world. Four other Superman issues occur during this time: three are Villains United tie-ins, and the other is the “Crisis of Conscience” epilogue featuring Zatanna from Adventures of Superman #644Superman #222 follows these and is chronologically the final issue of the Superman titles before Adventures of Superman #645, another OMAC tie-in addressed below.

Superman #222 features an OMAC attack upon Lois Lane and reveals that Superman had replaced himself with a robot duplicate in order to better protect his loved ones in the wake of his uncertainty following the events of “Sacrifice.” As such, it can be considered a “Sacrifice” aftermath issue.

The story itself is told partially in flashbacks, with the story jumping from the past to the present, a device used in other scripts by Mark Verheiden.

The story opens with Lois Lane hearing someone enter. She thanks her unseen friend for coming over and says that she’s still struggling with the flu. But soon she sees that it’s not her friend — it’s an OMAC, and it’s been sent to kill her.

She darts out of the way of an optical blast and reaches a secret panel in the wall that holds a prototype rifle given to her by John Henry Irons, the former super-hero Steel (who was last seen in the Arctic in Superman #220). The blast knocks the OMAC through the wall. She approaches the OMAC, saying that she doesn’t want to injure it. Then the OMAC punches at her and she darts suddenly out of the way.

In her narration, she says that he guess she chose “the wrong day to tell Superman that I never wanted to see him again.”

The story then cuts to 24 hours earlier as Lois and her friend, a female Daily Planet intern named Kelly, are walking down the street in the rain. Lois notes that she’s come down with the flu, and Kelly says that Lois should have gotten her flu shot like she did. They see Superman fly by, and Kelly says that she doesn’t like the other heroes but feels safe with Superman. Lois instructs Kelly to try to arrange a meeting with some journalistic contact, then heads off — only to see the Weather Wizard and Superman overhead.

He’s injured, with a brace on his arm, due to his injuries in Villains United. Lois says that she needs “a freakin’ flow chart to keep all these lunatics straight” — not having the guide you’re reading, apparently.

Weather Wizard implies that he was paid to come to Metropolis, and Superman says that he’s getting sick of dealing with the Society. A blast from Weather Wizard knocks some concrete towards Lois, but Superman intercepts it. He acts if she’s okay, but he’s flown away by the time she finishes replying.

Clark appears out of the blue to comfort her, and Lois says that she may have a lead on a story about the OMACs: a source has contacted her saying she knows how the OMACs were created, and this information might help stop them. Superman warns Lois to be safe, but she tells him off — hating as usual when his concern interferes with her journalism.

We then cut back to the present to find Lois darting through the apartment as the OMAC stalks her. She gets into the bathroom and triggers a super-hero version of a panic room, causing a blast wall to fall over the door. She narrates that it’s “supposedly capable of resisting the blast of a small to medium nuclear weapon.” But then the OMAC starts punching it, causing large dents immediately. And Lois is worried.

Cutting back to the past, Lois arrives at the office and hears from Kelly that the contact has agreed to meet that night. Before he heads out, she tries to make up with Clark, encouraging him to be open with her.

Back in the present, Lois is rooting around, trying to find something that will help as the OMAC continues pounding its way though the blast wall.

As the flashback continues, she narrates how Clark jammed the Daily Planet’s parking gate, delaying her while he goes ahead to meet with the woman. She says that she helped create the OMACs, that she worked in a charity funded by an anonymous woman to innoculate people around the world, and that she overheard the name Maxwell Lord. When the OMACs started appearing, she noticed that they did so around her vaccination sites.

It’s then that Lois arrives, angry with Clark. Then three red lights go on overhead, and they know that OMACs have arrived. As Superman fights with the OMACs, Lois and her contact flee.

In the present, she tears off the gas line of the bathroom’s water heater, filling the room with gas. Taking off two cabinet doors, she lies down in the tub and puts them over her, hoping that when it breaks through the door it will make a spark.

As the flashback continues, the building in which Superman is battling the OMACs collapses. Jimmy Olsen and Perry White have arrived, but the contact has apparently fled. As the OMACs head off, Superman descends to Lois. His chest is damaged, revealing that he’s not Superman but an android — one of his android duplicates from his Fortress of Solitude.

The Superman android carries Lois back to her apartment and tells her that he replaced Clark “after his fight with the Weather Wizard” and “the attack on the Supermen of America” — the latter being a reference to the OMAC attack on those characters during the all-out OMAC rampage in The OMAC Project #6. The android explains that Superman didn’t tell her because he knew that she wouldn’t approve. Lois gives the android a message for Superman: she says she’s “not sure if this marriage is worth it anymore.”

The flashback then meets the beginning of the present narrative, as Lois narrates how he took a sick day the following day. Kelly came over and begins saying that she finds it funny that she can’t remember the previous night. She then, of course, begins to transform into an OMAC.

In the present, the OMAC smashes through the door, causing an explosion. As she hopes for the best, she thinks of Clark. Seeing the explosion while flying around, Superman arrives and finds an unconscious Kelly and a battered Lois. He apologizes, saying he only called in the android substitute because he “was worried that I wouldn’t be there for you.” Amidst the flames in the ruins of their apartment, she says that she should have told him and they make up.

On the final page, we see Bizarro flying into the sun, retrieving the villainous artifact known as the Black Rock, and heading back to Earth where Luthor is waiting. That story thread will continue into the following issue, which also feautures Supergirl talking with Superman before heading into space with Donna Troy.

It’s a good issue, better than the bland OMAC tie-ins in which an OMAC merely appears and a fight ensues. The story connects to the distribution of the OMAC nanomachines by immunization shots, as revealed in The OMAC Project. More importantly, Lois’s self-defense tactics are dramatic and demonstrate her self-reliance — the same self-reliance seen in her journalistic career. It’s nothing revolutionary, but it’s fun stuff.

It’s worth noting that the issue is remarkably sexual. Lois even narrates, near the issue’s opening, that she thinks journalism is the most fun she can have with her clothes on. Shot after shot of Lois and Kelly focus on their curves. When Lois returns to the Daily Planet after talking with Clark after the Weather Wizard attack, she even comments on Kelly’s clothing. As Lois ducks and dodges the OMAC, she often dives or otherwise leans over so as to feature her breasts or curvy backside. When Superman arrives at the conclusion, Kelly is lying on her front with her back arched and her butt in the air. Even as Superman cuddles Lois, her butt sticks out through tight pants. Artist Ed Benes is famous for this sort of work, and it’s good to know that his artistic assistants on this issue didn’t result in a lowered T&A quota. None of this is to complain, however: the women are gorgeous and certainly don’t hurt the eyes, but it can sometimes feels a little out of touch with the real sense of threat that the story seeks to dramatize — though not the sense of love, which we feel is little more than a plot device for an entertaining story.

Wonder Woman #221
“Pride of the Amazons”
Greg Rucka script; Rags Morales and Cliff Richards pencils; Michael Bair, Ray Snyder, and Mark Propst inks; J.G. Jones cover; cover-dated November 2005

Wonder Woman #221 occurs after the mass confrontation with the OMACs but before the final page of The OMAC Project #6, on which Brother Eye revealed to the world Wonder Woman’s killing of Maxwell Lord. Wonder Woman was shown participating in the stand against the OMACs in Africa in The OMAC Project #6. After this, as seen here, Brother Eye strikes at Wonder Woman through its OMACs, in revenge for her killing of Maxwell Lord. It’s only when Brother Eye’s attacks fail that he reveals Wonder Woman’s actions to the world. And in Wonder Woman #221, we get to see the Wonder Woman’s reaction.

The previous issue of Wonder Woman was the “Sacrifice” aftermath issue in which Wonder Woman talked with Batman. Unlike Superman, Wonder Woman isn’t graced with three titles, and so quite a bit of time — comparatively — has passed since the previous issue. Unlike Superman, Wonder Woman didn’t mope around and participated, dressed in warrior regalia, in the stand against the OMACs in Africa seen in The OMAC Project #6. She then apparently visited Paradise Island, because she was seen there with Supergirl and Zatanna in JLA #118; in that story, she gave Zatanna advice based on her own decision to kill Maxwell Lord. This correlates nicely with this issue, which states that Wonder Woman was on Paradise Island the previous night. Wonder Woman #221 picks up not long after this, but before Brother Eye revealed Wonder Woman’s actions to the world.

The story begins with some teenagers standing and walking outside the Themysciran Embassy. Their eyes go read, indicating the activation of their OMAC nanomachines. They look to the embassy ominously, recognizing their target.

On Themyscira, Io awakes from her injuries sustained at the hands of Ares in the issues just prior to “Sacrifice.” Io’s attendant, Carissa, informs a waking Io that Wonder Woman waited at Io’s side until dawn, but had to leave. Io asks about Lyta, and Carissa has to reveal that Ares took her. Other Amazons arrive, and Io can see that something’s amiss. One says that, while Io slept, Callisto had a vision that foretold the death of the Amazons. Io understands that they want her to build a device to defend Paradise Island, but she refuses because it goes against her principles and that Diana wouldn’t approve.

The story then cuts to Wonder Woman talking with Athena, now head of the Greek Pantheon. Diana still has the scars on her cheek from her fight with Superman. Athena’s angry at something Diana has planned, but Diana won’t budge. Athena threatens to revoke her title as the Amazons’ champion, which Wonder Woman says she would accept, but she must behave according to her values and her mission in any case. It soon becomes clear that Diana’s talking about turning herself in. She doesn’t believe that she did anything wrong, but she feels the need to subordinate herself to the law.

Inside the embassy, the staff is talking. They don’t understand Jonah’s absence and Diana hasn’t been forthcoming. Diana arrives, however, and quickly explains that Jonah McCarthy was a spy for Checkmate. It’s then that she drops the bombshell. If anyone wants to leave her employ after she tells them, she says, she would understand. What she says, though, isn’t that she killed Maxwell Lord. “Rachel,” she says, “I’d like you to accompany me to the Hague.”

As she’s explaining how she killed Max, the OMACs outside activate. As Diana talks, she suddenly tells everyone to get down as three OMACs burst through the window and blast her.

The OMACs have struck her home, giving no thought to the civilians there. And Diana’s angry. She knows there are civilians inside the OMACs, presumably having learned this during the confrontation inThe OMAC Project #6, and she narrates that she “thought their threat eliminated,” a clear reference to The OMAC Project #6.

Wonder Woman lays into the OMACs, but isn’t getting very far. Then Brother Eye speaks to her through the OMACs, explaining that it has upgraded her threat level and will kill her. It points out that the battle will kill civilians and asks her to surrender and be executed. Instead, she charges, moving so that two OMACs blast one another. Somehow, this causes them to revert to human form while Wonder Woman flies off with the third OMAC, sending it flying off towards the horizon.

Wonder Woman pursues the OMAC, but has succeeded in getting it over the Atlantic Ocean along the East Coast. She chases it to the Statue of Liberty, then crashes down with it into a refinery on Staten Island. The OMAC sees the refinery as an ideal battleground, using a metal surface to reflect a blast at Wonder Woman. She lets it knock her into a vat of molten metal. She narrates that “it burns, but I’ve felt far worse,” including recently. The OMAC, however, takes Wonder Woman for dead and flies off, but Wonder Woman emerges triumphantly from the molten metal — having done so just to make a point to Brother Eye.

She wraps the OMAC in her lasso and tosses it into liquid nitrogen, then pulls the OMAC out and breaks off the armor. The human inside has hypothermia, but is otherwise fine.

Arriving in a hospital emergency room, Wonder Woman calls for a doctor, but the doctor stutters. Then she realizes everyone’s staring at her and she tilts her head upward to the TV in the waiting room. It’s replaying Wonder Woman’s killing of Maxwell Lord over and over. The media hasn’t yet begun to spin it, but it’s clearly about to.

Wonder Woman just walks out, thinking how she misjudged Brother Eye and how, failing to kill her, it’s “killed my name.”

It’s a great issue, not as powerful as “Sacrifice” itself but great stuff. It has action, but the action is meaningful, invested with importance for not only Wonder Woman but the entire DC Universe. The bits on Paradise Island might seem impenetrable for the casual reader who only picked up Wonder Woman in the wake of “Sacrifice.” The scene with Athena is less difficult, but still foreign to the casual reader. Fortunately, the rest of the issue is classic, mind-bending stuff. The threat on Diana’s embassy is powerful, recalling the threat to heroes’ loved ones, newly infused with importance in the wake ofIdentity Crisis. Wonder Woman rising from the molten metal is a great image, filled with power — and so good that we’re inclined to forgive the fact that her costume conveniently doesn’t melt.

But the coup de grace is the ending, which is filled with the sublime mixture of mundane reality, the way people look at one another and the way people pick up on signals, and super-hero melodrama.

It’s exactly the sort of scene that has made Greg Rucka an A-list comic book writer.

Adventures of Superman #645
“Breaking Point”
Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir script from a Greg Rucka plot; Karl Kershl and Renato Guedes pencils; Wayne Faucher and Renato Guedes inks; Karl Kerschl cover; cover-dated December 2005

Adventures of Superman #645 begins with the same revelation to the world of Wonder Woman’s actions seen at the end of The OMAC Project #6 and Wonder Woman #221. In fact, Adventures of Superman #645 might literally begin exactly where Wonder Woman #221 left off. Though the setting is the Daily Planet, people are still newly reacting to the video of Wonder Woman killing Maxwell Lord.

The issue spans the time between this revelation and Infinite Crisis #1, ending with Superman’s discovery of the Watchtower’s destruction. In this time, OMACs wander through Metropolis, Lois investigates her shooting in the nation of Umec, the armored Lex Luthor revealed to be a different person from the Society’s Luthor in Villains United #6 tries to talk to Superman, and Superman again battles Ruin. Perhaps more importantly, this issue helps to establish how much time passed between the mass confrontation with the OMACs in The OMAC Project #6 and the worldwide revelation of Wonder Woman’s actions on the final page of that issue: between Superman #220 and Adventures of Superman #645 occurred multiple issues of the Superman titles (including Adventures of Superman #644) and the entire “Crisis of Conscience” storyline in JLA (excluding the destruction of the Watchtower in that story’s epilogue).

As Clark Kent, Superman watches the Daily Planet staff react while knowing that he alone understands the context of the act. Superman narrates how, if the killing here in context, people might excuse Diana — which, of course, isn’t his own view. On the other hand, revealing that context would mean revealing that Superman was controlled by Maxwell Lord — which Superman speculates would “terrify them” worse than Diana’s actions.

Editor Perry White orders Jerry, Jimmy Olsen’s black girlfriend who he introduced around the offices last issue, to get the story behind Wonder Woman’s action. But through the windows, Jimmy spies a swarm of OMACs just hovering there.

As Clark Kent turns into Superman and flies out a window, he knows that he has no plan to deal with the OMACs. He notes that he has been busy and doesn’t know the OMACs agenda now that Maxwell Lord is gone — a reference to his absence during The OMAC Project #6. He feels that he has to protect the victims inside the OMACs, however, and notes that “Lois’s intern Kelly, from the Daily Planet” was one of these innocents — a refernce to the events ofSuperman #222.

The OMACs identify him as “Alpha One,” but deem him irrelevant. Superman tries to block them, but overhears their protocol not to engage him unless attacked — which would mean fighting far too many.

The issue then turns to Villains United territory. The previous issue ended with the armored Lex Luthor recruiting the female Parasite. Now as he talks with her, it’s clear that he’s had her infiltrate the Society. He even references how her task is made important by the collapse of the Secret Six, as seen in Villains United #6. The armored Lex Luthor seems to have a seizure of sorts, finding it difficult to think straight. When Paraasite instinctively reaches out to him, Mercy puts her in her place, worried that her powers would hurt her boss.

As he issue continues, Superman narrates how he misses his wife, who has returned to Umec, the nation wherein she was shot by an unknown assailant while covering a war. She writes her husband about how even in Umec, everyone’s talking about what Diana has done. She’s found that no U.S. snipers were in Umec at the time but suspects a non-Umeci sniper. She accosts a man who sees to be spying on her, confronting him in Farsi. He says that the Umecis knew who she was and considered her off-limits as a target because of her super-powered friend. Lois comes to the conclusion that her shooting was about manipulating Superman all along. And she comes to the conclusion, in the wake of what she’s learned following “Sacrifice,” that the perpetrator had to be Checkmate and Maxwell Lord.

In Metropolis, the S.C.U.’s Lieutenant Lupé Leocadio looks at her badge, which Superman crushed at the beginning of last issue. Professor Emil Hamilton arrives, having been summoned by Lupé. He says that he thinks he can find Ruin based on the power drain necessary to power Ruin’s teleportation apparatus. Lupé says that Hamilton need not file a report, tosses her crumpled badge into the trash, and heads out to the site Hamilton has pinpointed.

Superman is flying around Metropolis, monitoring the plethora of OMACs, when he spots the armored Lex Luthor on the top of the Daily Planet building. Having long suspected Luthor of being behind Ruin (since Adventures of Superman #636 to be precise), Superman flies down and confronts the villain. Luthor says he’s innocent and that, in fact, he was doing some “research on the person who is.” When Superman’s aggressive, Luthor asks if this is “part of this new, lethal attitude you so-called heroes have adopted.” Superman can tell that Luthor’s telling the truth, but before Luthor can say more, Superman is attacked — by none other than Ruin.

Ruin asks Luthor why he’s there, and Luthor’s response suggests that he understands that Ruin is working with the other Luthor — the one behind the Society. A frustrated Superman knocks Ruin around, then off the building itself. As he falls, Ruin teleports and Superman sees a glow around him when he does, suggesting that the teleportation power comes from elsewhere. Ruin appears behind Superman, then accuses Superman of somehow killing the sun as he absorbs its solar energy. Ruin says that this isn’t just a theory, adding that “in 4.9 billion years, you will destroy everything.” Superman can’t understand what this means, but understands that he saw the same teleportation flash before he unmasked ruin as Pete Ross (in Adventures of Superman #640). Superman then realizes that he’s teleporting through the Phantom Zone, a null space few people know about.

But then he hears a distress call from the Watchtower. Ruin teleports away and Luthor has left, so Superman heads into space — where he sees the wreckage of the Watchtower.

The issue isn’t up to Rucka’s normal par, perhaps because of the use of two scriptwriters to turn his plot into a comic book. The battle with Luthor also suffers from the weaker art of Renato Guedes, who cannot compare to the title’s regular artist, Karl Kerschl. Ruin’s final teleportation is depicted so confusingly that we wouldn’t know he had done so if it were not for Superman’s narrative caption.

But it’s a historic issue nonetheless. Not only does it bridge the gap between The OMAC Project #6 and Infinite Crisis #1, but it also ties nicely into Villains United #6. Luthor might not do much, and the battle with Ruin might not feel like much, but Superman’s revelations do advance the long-running Ruin storyline in the title. The most powerful pages, though, are those of the opening and the ending, as the Daily Planet staff react to news of Diana and as Superman sees the destroyed Watchtower.

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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