Only eight issues of O.M.A.C. was a crime.

§ March 17th, 2021 § Filed under dc comics § 11 Comments

So the problem with saying “LEMME TELL YA WHAT COMICS I LIKED READING, OH, A DECADE AGO” is that now I have to depend on my dumb brain to dredge up specific memories from those books. What’s getting in the way is that most of these books I read once, as they came out, and only very rarely did I go back and read a whole run of issues in succession to more firmly lodge events in the ol’ mental file cabinet.

Thankfully, nearly-decade-younger-me, when I was sprightlier and full of hope, I did a three-part overview of the New 52 launch titles (one an’ a two an’ a three). Looking over these posts, they do seem to bolster some of my partially-retained thoughts on the titles, though I seemed to have been more faintly-positive about the Superman title than I thought I would have.

Interestingly, I noted in my discussion of the Green Lantern books that “four were too many, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they added a fifth” and, well, hello solo Sinestro series (which I kinda pushed for in those older posts of mine). In retrospect, I did enjoy the GL books from this period, which (coincidentally I’m sure) were among the least-affected by the New 52/Flashpoint changes of the Big Name DC titles. Plus, I’m in the bag for Green Lantern stuff already, and somehow too many GL titles didn’t burn me out. …Reading my old recaps did remind me 1) Red Lanterns was a far better series than it had any reason to be, and 2) I miss Larfleeze. He had a later-wave short-run New 52 title that I liked quite a bit.

Okay, to the Super-books…I thought then, and still do now, that the main Superman book by George Perez was cluttered and confused, though as we’ve learned in the years since Perez faced some editorial issues on that book so it’s not entirely on his shoulders. Plus, as I’ve said before, if Perez can’t make your costume look good, then the problem is with the costume. Anyway, remember when Lois had another love interest? That blonde guy? Whathsiname? That was weird.

Okay, I’m supposed to be focusing on the titles I liked here, but reminding myself how crummy Superman was makes me appreciate Action, with Grant Morrison writing “Young Superman,” all the more. I’m sure he faced as much editorial finagling as Perez did, but somehow Morrison managed to make it work, mostly, as I recall. After Morrison left, both books kinda fell into the doldrums ’til we got the “Superman’s Identity Revealed!” storyline, which was actually compelling and then eventually undone, of course, which I’m sure isn’t a precursor for anything happening in the Superman books now.

Also of note in my original analyses, I said that reading these Superman books was like reading an “Elseworlds” or parallel-Earth Superman book. Given how this version of the character was eventually replaced by the post-Crisis/pre-Flashpoint Superman, I guess the DC Continuity Gods agreed.

Some of the oddball books were fun as well…that O.M.A.C. series was definitely Kirby-Ahoy, as it should have been. It was too beautiful for this world, alas, and was amongst the first wave of cannings. Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. was also a blast of welcome weirdness, one that didn’t depend on any of the New 52 nonsense to just do what it did. In fact, neither did OMAC, really. It’s almost like the farther removed from the “event,” the better the books are.

The obvious one you’re probably expecting me to mention is Swamp Thing, which, yes, I liked well enough. The main issue with these is a fanboy-ish one, that arbitrary changes were made to the character’s history and supporting characters (especially Arcane) that don’t really add anything except “it’s different now.” I’ve gone on about this before, and my own realization that they’re not writing these for people who’ve read every single comic with Swamp Thing in it, but for new-ish readers who may be vaguely familiar with ol’ Moss-Head. But overall I think I enjoyed the comic, once they got past the set-up and Swamp Thing was actually in the book.

It’s funny but Justice League Dark was a title I was lukewarm on at first, but it became a comic I enjoyed quite a bit and still follow now, even if it’s been relegated to a back-up in the main Justice League title. And no, not just because Swamp Thing is in it…I like seeing all the horror characters just sort of crammed in here together, plus Detective Chimp. What kind of soulless monster doesn’t like Detective Chimp?

All-Star Western I didn’t pick up ’til the time-travel stuff kicked in, because I do love Jonah Hex travellin’ through time. I know, I know, recent Jonah Hex comics were good the whole time, but it took the gimmick to get me in there. I’m shallow, what can I say. (Remember that time travel stuff started as part of DC’s planned “WTF?” cover stunt ’til someone realized “maybe having an implied ‘fuck’ on the cover isn’t the image we want to sell?” Oh, for those pre-Titans TV show days….)

A couple later-wave New 52 books I really enjoyed, like Justice League 3000 (then 3001). I got a real “anythiing could happen/L.E.G.I.O.N. ’89 vibe from it, which 1) was helped along by being new characters removed from regular DC Universe happenings, and 2) L.E.G.I.O.N. writers Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis wrote this too. I really kept hoping they’d bring this back someday, but given DC’s current publishing strategies, seems unlikely.

In addition: Constantine (fun seeing Johnny playing in a superhero universe again), Batwoman (stunning art), Animal Man (can’t think of a specific reason why I liked it, but I always like Animal Man), Secret Six (writer Gail Simone being evil, always a positive in my book), Batman Incorporated (continued over from pre-Flashpoint, which remained good but felt undermined by the relaunch).

So as you can see, I did like quite a few of the New 52 books. I mean, I couldn’t read everything, but what I kept up with I enjoyed (except maybe most of the Superman comics, which I sorta hung in there on out of inertia, which is a terrible way to read a comic but a lot of us have one of those in our reading lists). There were a couple of books I mentioned back then as ones that I liked, but afterward I’d drop (like Aquaman) or I just can’t remember anything about (like Firestorm). Maybe I’d still like them now? Once I find an eighth day in the week, I’ll do some rereading.

ADDENDUM: I am reading your comments, and thank you for them. Just wanted to let you know I’m not ignoring them just because I’m not addressing them in these posts yet. I’ll get to responding eventually!

11 Responses to “Only eight issues of O.M.A.C. was a crime.”

  • Robcat says:

    I guess I felt like the New 52 was the exact opposite of what they should have been doing AND THEY KNEW IT.

    First comic I ever picked up was Iron Man 126. Iron Man only appeared on one page- the last one, But that issue made me not only an Iron Man fan, but a comic fan. Why? Great art and great story.

    New 52 was about changing too much. We read comics. We know how to suspend disbelief. We can live with tangled histories. People want (not sure in what order) familiar characters, great art, and great stories. That’s why Green Lantern didn’t change during N52. They knew it was working. Instead of doing that with the other characters, they… did everything else BUT.

    Mind you, I liked Blackhawks. I liked what they did with characters that were out of print (Frankenstein; I, Vampire; OMAC). That’s what they should have done. New 52 should have been a push for new and offbeat, not changing the foundation that we all knew wouldn’t stay changed anyway. Heck, they could have done a Heroes Reborn. Take a year, do something different, than come back.

    But then… I could be wrong.

  • Thom H. says:

    “It’s almost like the farther removed from the ‘event,’ the better the books are.”

    This has been my general attitude toward DC books for a while. Unless I know the character or creative team are high-profile enough to be reset-proof (like Grant Morrison on Green Lantern), then I feel safer and more satisfied sticking with books on the edges of the line like Mister Miracle and Strange Adventures.

    I guess “continuity-lite” doesn’t necessarily equate to “high quality,” but it does mean that the story I’m reading isn’t going to be suddenly interrupted by a reset. Or cross over with an Infinite Metal Crisis-Point that basically starts a reset. As Robcat says above, I just want to read a good story with good art about a character that I like.

  • Daniel T says:

    One of my LCS at the time offered a promotion to get all the New 52 first issues at 50% off.

    Here was my impression as I emailed to someone after I’d read them all:

    “If you judge a periodical’s success by its ability to make you want to know what happens next, then these books succeeded:

    Justice League (solely because I’m curious as to how they handle Darkseid)
    Action Comics
    Green Lantern
    DCU Presents
    Wonder Woman
    All-Star Western
    I, Vampire (yes, really)
    The Flash
    Justice League Dark

    But the ones I’ll probably actually follow:

    The Flash
    Wonder Woman
    Justice League Dark”

    I ended up sticking with The Flash, OMAC and Action (till Morrison left). I reread Flash when the omnibus came out and liked it more than I originally did. I just got the Morrison Action Omnibus so I’ll see how that holds up soon enough.

  • Paul Di Filippo says:

    Not only was Lois’s new blond boyfriend a non-starter, but they gave him the same easily-goggle-able name as a well-known SF writer. But it wasn’t a loving tribute, so far as I know, just tone-deaf.

  • Daniel T says:

    I emailed Carroll about that at the time! He replied something like “My secret is out!”

  • Allan Hoffman says:

    Someday, when all those involved are old and don’t care about NDAs, I’d like to know what really went down in the DC offices that necessitated the N52. Were sales really tanking so much that they felt such a drastic reboot was necessary? Was it coming from above the DC head office from Warner Bros.?

    There were certainly some good things that came out during the N52 period but like Mike and Robcat said it should have been a push for offbeat and new stuff while keeping the foundations. Surely there were some titles back then that were past their sell-by date that could have been cancelled to make room for a bunch of new stuff?

    And as Mike said too, we’re now back to a pre-COIE DC infinite multiverse structure where anything is possible. Maybe we can keep it like that for a few decades.

  • Chris V says:

    I read and enjoyed a few of the “New 52” books at the time, but looking back at the titles, the only two I could see myself ever rereading would be Grant Morrison’s Action Comics and Jeff Lemire on Animal Man.
    I think those two books actually stand out as good comics, as opposed to arousing excitement based on hype.

    As an aside…Did J.M. DeMatteis ever work on LEGION? Wasn’t it Alan Grant working with Giffen?

    I can imagine a day where Jonathan Carroll writes a metafictional novel about a writer named Jonathan Carroll writing a comic book featuring a fictional Jonathan Carroll dating a comic book character and living a perfect life, while the “real” Carroll’s life (writing the Carroll from the comic book) falls apart in this novel.
    Because that’s just something I could see Jonathan Carroll writing.

  • Andrew-TLA says:

    If I remember the timeline properly, Justice League 3001 was canned to free up the Giffen/DeMatteis team to work their magic on the fever dream that was Scooby Apocalypse. A book that had no right to be as entertaining as it was for most of the run.

  • Snark Shark says:

    Seret Six! THAT WAS GOOD!

  • Andrew Davison says:

    Mike, thanks for the pointer to “Dial H”, which is pretty good.

    If you have time, please talk about some of the other less mainstream titles.

  • Chris V says:

    Oh, I forgot that China Mieville writing Dial H was part of the “New 52”.
    That series was great even just to be able to get Mieville writing a comic series (he also write one of the John Constantine stories in Hellblazer #250).
    There was a rumour at the time that he was going to take over on Swamp Thing.
    I could see myself rereading Dial H one day. I have a lot less memory of that boom than Action or Animal Man.