Jun 27, 2017

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 853: Omega the Unknown #2, May 1976

https://www.comics.org/issue/29847/

The second issue of Omega continues to be mysterious and strange, and more and more as I read it it reminds me of a 90s Vertigo superhero comic, albeit with the very, very Seventies use of the second-person caption box (i.e., the narrative voice speaking directly to the character using the pronoun "you").

Both the Hulk and Electro show up in today's comic. In the initial issue, there was no real mention of any of the other Marvel U characters, and part of me thinks that the story might have benefited from not actually being a part of the Earth-616 continuity. It seems to be telling a very different kind of superhero story from the mainstream. On the other hand, the inclusion of Omega in the Marvel U allows us to hold the character and situation up in contrast to something like the X-Men or Avengers in terms of how it is treating the superhero and its relationship with both individuals and with the society it inhabits.

That said, the Hulk is not necessarily the best comparison in this case. Where Omega appears to be fulfilling a traditional superheroic role, the Hulk is quite far from that, at least in the incarnation that appears in this issue. I think a far better comparison might have been, in this era, the Defenders, whom Gerber was scripting at the time, or even someone like Captain America, whose history up to this point very often involved younger sidekicks. Part of the story, as confirmed in the text piece by Gerber in the first issue, is considering the relationship these sidekick characters have with the heroes they assist, and how the relationship might be envisioned when the hero is not completely, or at all, human. Not that James-Michael is a "normal" young man, but, as far as we know, he's still human, whereas Omega is...something else.

If I want to speculate a bit, I'm thinking that Omega is actually from the future, and James-Michael is either him as a young boy, or a template from which Omega will be created. Though, as I noted yesterday, the answer to this question, or the Gerber/Skrenes answer to this question, will likely never be told.

To be continued.

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