It’s hard to believe that we’re already almost one full year into DC COMICS-THE NEW 52. To celebrate this monumental anniversary, each day this week on THE SOURCE we’ve been spotlighting a different paperback collected edition being released this month. With the launch storylines of these critically acclaimed series collected for the first time in their entirety, it’s a great way for new readers to join the growing DC Universe. Today, we shed a spotlight on O.M.A.C. VOL. 1: OMACTIVATE.
“Going into O.M.A.C., we knew we wanted to do a big, bold, brassy, over the top comic book,” co-writer and artist Keith Giffen told THE SOURCE. “That was, believe it or not, our mission statement. Whaddaya know... things worked out.”
“Be forewarned: if you like your comics all warm and cuddly and concerned with your feelings you might want to pass on this. If, however, you're into the sheer lunacy that only comics can provide ... have we got some stories for you.”
“As I write this, I'm inking the first few pages of the O.M.A.C. zero story, digesting the mayhem and madness that Dan DiDio and Keith Giffen have just dropped on my desk,” inker Scott Koblish continued. “It's been about half a year since I touched a page of O.M.A.C., but it is a comfort to sit down with another set of great pages in front of me. In the intervening months, I've been stretching myself creatively and into different artistic fields, banging my head against as many walls as possible, in an effort to stretch myself out of my comfort zone. Inking over O.M.A.C is like coming home to a cup of hot chocolate after a day on the Iditarod; I'm enjoying it too much, and I know I need to get out there and race with the dogs again, but it's such a comfortable place I just want to stay here for awhile.”
“I've been a very big Jack Kirby fan since I was young. Jack Kirby was a virtuoso, a man who trusted his imagination to lead the way, and he painted in broad, influential strokes and he looms over the comic book industry like Shakespeare looms over the theater. Working on a book called O.M.A.C is a little like starting up a modern-day theater revival of Hamlet – you have to make sure to keep what's good, you want to have a spin on it that keeps it fresh, and you want to remind everyone what was important about the work in the first place. Dan and Keith played well to those strengths. An O.M.A.C. story is an explosive thing, full of big ideas, bombast and power, stories that reflect our modern day collisions of monsters, machines and mortals.”
“It infected me to work on a book like this; the velocity with which ideas were flying was intoxicating. As the team got comfortable with everyone else's strengths, it became clear to me that there was no story that couldn't be told. If Dan and Keith would turn onto some new concept, each time everyone knew how to make it work.”
“On each page of O.M.A.C., I would be surprised three times, and I'll take the last page of the first issue as a perfect example. Keith surprised me with that splash of Brother Eye, a full on homage to Jack Kirby: the sun was bursting with energy, the sky and moon were frantic with endlessly erupting with energy, and the land below the satellite was composed entirely out of shock-lines, as if the entire North American continent was shuddering in awe of the seething power of Brother Eye. The whole time I inked it, I couldn't get the phrase ‘the music of the spheres’ out of my head. My second surprise would come with Brian and Kristy Miller's Hi-Fi colors: Bright, stunning, a confident attack on the senses, each color vibrantly juxtaposed in violent confluence. And the third surprise was Dan's dialogue, quirky and (to me) completely out of left field. It lent a twist to the proceedings that I really enjoyed. The sheer insanity of a satellite orbiting high in cosmic grandeur, lecturing a confused and bewildered Kevin Ko, ‘Eye am BROTHER EYE, and you and Eye have much to talk about. But first, call your girlfriend. She's worried about you.’ And then, at the bottom of the page, in Travis Lanham's deft and grand lettering, the next issue blurb - the promise of things getting ‘really weird’ next issue (and they did!). Fantastic.”
“POW! Liked the Checkmate Elite team? Ka-boom! How about some alligators with electric heads? Zap! Enjoyed the issue with the evil Human Resources girl? Thoom! How about some walking, talking animals? Crash! How about ripping the walls off of Kevin's last safe place?”
“The trade is a very nice package. It opens up about some of the process that Keith and Dan went through, and it has the first few pages of a shelved attempt at the first issue, different designs of O.M.A.C., the Psi-Fi Man and Sweet Leilani (I got to meet her Earth-Prime counterpart a few months ago and she's adorable).”
“Regrets? I wish we'd gotten to do more, to see what impact each new idea was going to have, but that's comics – we are always commanding a ship that seems ready to collapse out from under us at any moment. All we can do is throw out as many stories as we can, and hope some of them make an impression on a reader's mind. On your mind, hopefully. Pick up O.M.A.C. VOL. 1: OMACTIVATE if you can, and don't worry about us, we've been busy building our next boat. Hopefully you'll be there to watch us unfurl the sail on that one too.”
“For me, O.M.A.C. was one of those rare titles that truly explored uncommon territory in the DC Universe,” concluded series editor Harvey Richards. “Admittedly we didn’t work from a complete blank slate, we followed the footprints of the legendary Jack ‘the King’ Kirby, who introduced dozens of ideas that established the foundation of sci-fi characters in the DC Universe (and comics in general). Those are big shoes to fill. And while a handful of creators have flirted with the O.M.A.C. concept in the past, we felt that DC COMICS-THE NEW 52 would be the perfect opportunity to dive deep into those ideas again. And who else could be up to that task then Dan DiDio and Keith Giffen?”
“DiDio and Giffen on O.M.A.C. could only be described as letting two kids loose in a toy store. They were constantly on the phone brainstorming on possible story ideas. They reintroduced characters to the DC Universe that haven’t been seen in years and yet they added new elements to make the characters feel fresh for the modern world. Some characters were altered so much they became new characters entirely. Dan wrote draft after draft trying to find the right voice for the characters, while Giffen drew at least two issue’s worth of unused O.M.A.C. pages just trying to get the right energy and feel for the stories. Hardcore Kirby fans may even noticed a few Easter Eggs scattered throughout the run hinting at moments of the pass and possible future stories, but we never let those elements hinder a new reader’s enjoyment.”
“People couldn’t stop talking about Keith Giffen and Scott Koblish’s artwork on O.M.A.C. They were blown away at how Keith channeled Kirby’s style. It wasn’t difficult for Giffen because that’s his actual art style. He went back to his foundation as a comic artist – add Koblish’s clean crisp inks, the vibrate colors of HI-FI, Brian and Kristy Miller, and the dynamic lettering of Travis Lanham. Together we produced a comic that didn’t look like anything else on the stands!”
“Even though we didn’t get a chance to explore all of our ideas in the run, I have no doubt that this series has plant the seeds of new ideas for years to come. To all those fellow dreamers who sometimes fall reaching the stars, I’d like to pass on the word of Brother Eye, ‘Omactivate’!”
O.M.A.C. VOL. 1: OMACTIVATE is available in bookstores everywhere now.