Thursday, August 5, 2010

The OMAC Project (comics)

Writers: Greg Rucka, Geoff Johns, Judd Winick
Artists: Jesus Saiz, Rags Morales, Ed Benes, Phil Jimenez
Collects: Countdown to Infinite Crisis #1, The OMAC Project #1-6, Wonder Woman #219

The fourth trade of the Infinite Crisis buildup mini's is the one I saved for last. It's arguably the most relevant trade of the four. The effects of the OMAC Project as a whole actually had the most impact on Infinite Crisis on the whole; as such, if you were going to pick one of the mini's to pick up in expectation of it being followed up on in IC, this would be the one to get.

After the events of Identity Crisis, Batman has become more paranoid than ever. In that story it was revealed that the Justice League had been mindwiping villains, but had also done so to Batman when he furiously tried to stop them from doing it to Doctor Light. Since Identity Crisis, Batman has figured it all out. Feeling utterly betrayed by those he called friends, he constructed a satellite to spy on all meta-humans, feeling unable to trust them. But now that satellite is under someone elses control, bringing about a very real chance that all meta-humans could die. Batman's mistakes have come home to roost; but this time, it could come with a heavy cost for more than just him.

I've always been divided on the subject matter of this trade. This is arguably where the "Batjerk" portrayal of Batman had it's last hurrah - as it was intended to, really - but I think it borders on going too far. Batman really screws up this time on a level far beyond when Ra's Al Ghul took his plans to take down the Justice League if they went rogue; with the spy satellite comes files on every meta-human and it's not really all that hard to see the potential for the plan to just go horribly wrong. Had the death toll been any higher, would the superhero community ever have been able to forgive him? Should they anyway?

It's easy to see where they were going with this, painting a portrait of the fact that Batman had gone too far and needed to rehabilitate, but throughout this story I can't help but think they were cutting it close with Batman's overall culpability.

Those reservations aside, the story is quite well written. This really doesn't come as any surprise - I don't think I've read a Greg Rucka penned comic that was outright bad - but still, this could have gone very wrong. It was treading a fine line with Batman; it could have easily done the kind of damage to Batman that Civil War did to the character of Iron Man. Thankfully, Rucka is a better writer than that. Also worth noting is the writing in the Countdown to Infinite Crisis comic at the start; I think it's a testament to Geoff Johns, Greg Rucka and Judd Winick that the first time I read it I went in not caring about Ted Kord and walked out appreciating him.

If I had a real reservation, it was that midway through the mini proper it becomes evident that important events to the mini happened in another book; thankfully, that comic is included here and placed where it should be, but I've never been a fan of important plot points to one story being in something elsewhere regardless.

This mini is as much about Checkmate - DC's most established spy organization - as it is Batman. Easy to see why, as this mini is as much about breaking down Checkmate to be built back up again for the Checkmate series. Rucka definitely has a knack for those kind of stories and balances it well with the plight of the superheroes. However, as much as this mini is a primer for the Checkmate organization, it doesn't do as much to show how the organization works. We are told the gist of it through the course of the story, but for most of it the organization is little more than a dictatorship run by the Black King, who had maneuvered his way into total control. We could have done with actually seeing a bit of how it usually operates - through flashbacks or whatever - but thankfully it's a small blip on an otherwise well written story.

The art is good, solid work as well. While Countdown to Infinite Crisis is something of a hodgepodge - each of the five parts of that one comic was done by a different art team - most of the rest of the volume is done by him. Rags Morales does the art of the included Wonder Woman issue though and it's pretty good work. Otherwise, I'm not sure what else to say about it. It's good work, but I guess I wasn't wowed by it?

On a final note, this is also another pretty thick trade. Much like Day of Vengeance, this trade also includes a good amount of other stuff in it, some of it necessary. The kickoff to the buildup - Countdown to Infinite Crisis, which in itself is eighty pages or so - is included, along with the climax issue of the Sacrifice crossover of Superman and Wonder Woman, which is a necessary inclusion. In all, it makes for another thickish trade that goes right up to IC, with an allusion here or there to things going on in the other minis. Good value for the money, I think.

The Score: 7.5 out of 10

On the whole, it's an enjoyable read and worth the money. In general, the Infinite Crisis mini's have been worth the change. Pretty good when you consider a lot of events have tie-ins or buildup of very questionable quality. Recommended.

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