Oh, My Aching Cranium!:

Jack Kirby’s OMAC Deconstructed and Reconstructed, Part Fifteen

Sometimes, friends, it seems like OMAC is a comic that can’t win no matter how hard it tries. Fans of Jack Kirby’s original eight-issue run didn’t like how it ended, while readers who weren’t fans of the book didn’t like it, at least in part, because of how it ended. Meanwhile, both its partisans and its detractors seem more or less unimpressed by the various revivals that have come and gone over the years, with Jim Starlin’s brief stint on it being about the only one that has even a semi-significant number of admirers, and each subsequent “re-imagining” of it since then getting less and less coherent as the core concepts involved deviate further and further from The King’s original intentions.

Now, with Brother Eye and his Mohawk-festooned champion drifting deeper and deeper down the sinkhole of Futures End—another regrettable “New 52” crossover-heavy “event” series (this one being inflicted on the public on a weekly basis)—one is more tempted than ever to scream at the top of one’s lungs “Won’t somebody please finish OMAC’s story in a way that does the character some justice?”

Obviously, no one at DC is listening—but then, they never are and never have been). Fortunately, though, back in 2002 somebody not only heard the pleas of the small-but-loyal legion of OMAC fans out there, they even took it upon themselves to answer them.

David Morris and Dek Baker, two die-hard Kirby loyalists from the UK, were every bit as flummoxed by how editorial had scuttled Jack’s truncated epic as you, me, or anyone else, but they weren’t content to just sit there and seethe. Instead, they figured that if nobody else was going to end OMAC right, they’d just have to do it themselves—the final result being their entirely unofficial ninth issue, self-published as a 22-page black-and-white fanzine, with Morris handling the scripting and lettering chores while Baker did the artistic honors.

I’ve included a color reproduction of the cover atop this post in order to whet your appetite and one—yes, just one because I want you to experience the rest of it for yourself—page of story and art, but right away you can see that even though the writing style, and the illustrations in particular, are fun, if somewhat simplistic, approximations of how Jack worked, the Kirby “if you can dream it, you can do it” spirit is there in heaping doses, and that’s what matters most at the end of the day.

I’ve always felt like a the DIY/indie fanzine “movement” owed a considerable debt to Kirby’s imagination and work ethic, and Morris and Baker drive that point home very nicely indeed with their homage comic. Sold primarily through ads in publications like The Jack Kirby Collector, I have no idea what the print run for OMAC #9 was, but it definitely sold out a long time ago, and for good reason—simply put, whether DC “approves” or not, this is the way the series should have ended, rather than being dragged out of mothballs every half-decade or so for a continuous stream of increasingly-less-inspired creators to further dilute and pollute.

Is it the way Jack himself would have wrapped things up? Obviously not, but it feels like how he probably might have gone about the task, and ya’ know what? That’s both good enough for me and a damn sight better than what anyone else has done with these characters and concepts.

Fortunately for us all, even though the fanzine itself is no longer obtainable in physical form, the fine comics-related blog Professor H’s Wayback Machine (run by Kirby scholar and historian Henry Kujawa) saw fit to reproduce each and every one of its pages for us digitally a couple of years back, and by merely following these links you can be transported back to “The World That’s Coming!”—as it should have been—one more time!

The moral of this story? Good things come to those who wait, I guess—especially if you’re willing to wait a long time.

And speaking of waiting a long time—it looks as though we’re finally near to putting our own little OMAC recap/analysis series to bed. I’ve got one more segment planned, wherein we take a look back at the larger themes The King Of Comics was exploring with this book, that I intend to have ready in the next handful of days here (needless to say, I hope to see all of you then) and after that, it’s a wrap. So again, please join us here sometime in the next—I dunno, week or so, shall we say?—as we conclude our proceedings with one last round of critical re-appraisal and hopefully go out with a bang. Although, given the ending for OMAC #8, maybe that’s not the best expression to use.

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Ryan Carey maintains a B-movie (with occasional comics-related content) blog at trashfilmguru.wordpress.com, and writes about films and comics for sites such as unobtainium13.com, dailygrindhouse.com, geekyuniverse.com, and now Sequart. You can follow him on Twitter @trashfilmguru.

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  1. Mario Lebel says:

    Wow! I never knew about OMAC #9. That’s pretty interesting. Not only does it remind me I have to read all of your OMAC articles (I missed a lot of them) but I’ll have to reread OMAC #1-8 and cap it all off with OMAC #9. It looks pretty decent. Just completing such a project shows off the can-do attitude. I haven’t read it and I already like it.

  2. Ryan C. says:

    Oh yeah, “OMAC” #9 exemplifies “can-do”DIY spirit all the way. Once you’ve re-read the first eight issues, I think you’ll find this one to be a very satisfying conclusion!

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