Jun 26, 2017

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 852: Omega the Unknown #1, March 1976

https://www.comics.org/issue/29661/

Today we begin one of the great mysteries of Marvel Comics. Well, it's sort of a mystery. Omega the Unknown was cancelled after 10 issues, leaving numerous plot elements dangling and a promise from writer Steve Gerber that he'd finish the story one of these days. Unfortunately, Gerber and Marvel acrimoniously parted ways before that could happen, and Gerber never revealed how the story was meant to finish. Steven Grant wrote a conclusion to the series in The Defenders, but the Gerber/Skrenes/Mooney version sadly never saw the light of day.

Today's issue offers a nice, if very strange, set up for the series. It might be all the Twin Peaks I've been watching over the last little while, but this comic has a very Lynchian vibe. I'm not surprised, though. Gerber and Lynch have very similar sensibilities when it comes to utilizing the ridiculous to communicate a point. The stories of Omega and James-Michael are told in parallel, only coming together at the end of the issue. In fact, much of the Omega storyline is communicated to James-Michael as a dream, so right up until the end of the issue we're wondering if the superheroic action of the story is actually all dream.

Of course, then there's the problem of James-Michael's parents, whose bizarre fate lets us know that while he may be dreaming about strangely-costumed heroes, James-Michael is inhabiting a very strange story all his own. There's a wonderful ambiguity to all of the events that occur in this comic, and just enough hinting that there's a bigger picture we just can't see to bring us back for another issue.

To be continued.

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