2 out of 5
Not every issue of a comic book needs to be 100% new reader friendly, but I do subscribe to the high level concept that any given section of a book, a show, a movie, or a comic, should be contextual enough, in isolation, to allow someone dropping in fresh to get the gist. I don’t think this needs to necessarily be a conscious affectation, either, rather something that hopefully comes along naturally if everything is defined well. Someone just peeking in might have zero clue who’s speaking, or what MacGuffin is being sought, or why something in a box is a big deal, but they can recognize that the person speaking has some type of goal with what they’re saying, and that there is a MacGuffin, and that whatever’s in the box is a big deal.
I subscribe to that, but I can’t ever say for sure that the things I love (and the way I write) truly achieve that, so when I’m dropping into the middle of a comic’s story line, as with Omega Men #26 – which I only picked up to read Alan Moore’s short story in the back – I try to accept that, if I have zero clue what’s happening, that maybe the story is still really great for readers already in tow. Shawn McManus’ art is very eye-catching and directive, and Todd Klein is, like, an amazing letterer, so maybe he’s a good writer as well, so who knows? Maybe this story about warring space entities and The Omega Men suddenly realizing that the Green Lantern that’d been helping them out was doing so without The Guardians’ blessing was a landmark issue, and wholly immersive for fans?
And then I get to issue #27, which is more of a standalone – The Omegas are kidnapped, and wake up on a planet where their powers have all been backwardsed, requiring them to find a unique solution to battle a monster – and realize that, no, the writing just isn’t all that great. Klein doesn’t establish character or setting effectively, leaving motivations completely up to exposition to explain, and when the exposition doesn’t do that, you end up having faceless people doing random things. This isn’t the same as “bad” technical writing, nor is it cliche-riddled or anything, it just doesn’t create a world or an experience for a reader; you’re just required to follow along in order to be hand-held from point A to B to C. McManus’ visuals remain a highlight.
Alan Moore’s contributions are 100% Future Shocks: they take the option of The Omega Men’s rather isolated (from the greater DCU) setting and uniquely inhabited planets to come up with one-off races that can feature in twist ending tales. Brief Lives is a humorous bit with Kevin O’Neill art about two species who experience time at drastically different rates, and A Man’s World is a kind of darkly humorous and bitter story about, essentially, miscommunication, with art from Paris Cullins. These are amusing, but they’re very short – four pages each – and so are definitely better experienced in collections, as they’re not enough to swing favor positively regarding the rest of the book from Klein and McMAnus.