Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Omega Men #21

The Omega Men #21, December 1984, DC Comics
writer: Sharman Oaks
artist: Alex Nino
letterer: John Castanza
colorist: Carl Gafford
editor: Marv Wolfman

I've been hoarding this issue of The Omega Men since last summer, since a comic book by such a title seemed like the perfect issue to review on this, the beginning of the final week of A Comic A Day. Unfortunately, you know what they say about the best laid plans, and today our local American Cancer Society Relay for Life threatens to consume all of my day, so today's read must be a brief experience. It's just as well, since, despite my wait, the Omega Men didn't make a significance impression on me, which might explain why they've been spared DC's recent scouring of the B-list characters "who's who" for the sake of their new weekly epic crossovers. However, interestingly, this issue's synthesis of warring alien cultures and personality-riddled robots is remarkably similar to a first season episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation I was watched on the G4 Network. Specifically, the robot Questron, which incidentally looks like a walking Xerox machine with a monitor for a head, inquires about the definition of love in this story, a seemingly unrelated element that smacks of character development akin to Data's constant inquiries about humanity. The sheer innocence that pervades these futuristic protagonists is charming and refreshing in comparison to the pulp hero rip-offs that usually star in space adventures like this. In fact, while Alex Nino's art was incredible (if a little dated), these pages were too washed in pink and purple tones, the oft utilized shades of a techno-ruled future. (Remember, this comic was published when Simon was a cutting edge interactive game.) Ultimately, too distracting. So, though this may be the last issue of The Omega Men that I'll read in a while, I have an exciting line-up of issues for this last week, building right up to our last one. In the meantime, I offer the first A Comic A Day rerun, if only to clarify my reasons for ditching today's effort:

Spider-man, Storm & Luke Cage, May 2005, Marvel Comics/American Cancer Society
contributors unlisted
originally posted March 8, 2007

Every year I volunteer for the local American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, a twenty-four hour track and field event designed to raise money and support for cancer prevention, research, and survivorship. I picked up this special comic book at a related event last night, read it on the road this morning, and surprised to find a genuine superhero adventure smoldering beneath an anti-smoking public service announcement. Luke Cage is coaching a citywide track team but his star runner has been enticed by a secret syndicate encouraging the kid to smoke and through his race, led by a new supervillain appropriately dubbed Smokescreen. Cage, Spidey, and Storm break up the ring and get the athlete back on track – literally, I guess. The writer maintained the integrity of the message while preserving a sense of adventure and wonder for a younger audience, the intended readership for such a preventative lesson. The artist also implemented a solid sense of page layout and drama, in the old mighty Marvel manner with a touch of Mike Wieringo influence. The creators should have been credited for their successful efforts, I say, but I can understand why they weren’t. Preventing cancer is the real inspiration for this issue. It’s the kind of enemy anyone can fight, with a little time. It’s the kind of cause that calls everyone to be a hero.

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