The Long Descent of Comics: Omega Men Issues 1, 2 and 3

*Just a little warning: this post has some spoilers*

The Omega Men (written by Tom King) was recommended to me by Feral Atom (he has a more positive review that you can see here). I liked the art (by Barnaby Bagenda and Romulo Fajardo Jr.), but it wasn’t anything remarkable. I really wanted to like the series. But I couldn’t find anything beyond average about it. The writing was repetitive, the characters were unlikable and undeveloped, and the plot went nowhere. The book threw characters, languages and cultures at you with no explanation, hoping that the intrigue would be enough for you to buy the following books. I find this to be a common theme with modern comic books.

I’m not a crotchety old man, living in the past and grumbling about what those doggone youngsters are doing with comic books. I’m a teenage girl who loves old comic books, Marvel Cinema movies and some superhero TV shows (like Teen Titans and Young Justice). But I find most modern comic books, with the exception of Ms. Marvel, boring. I’ll explain, using examples from Omega Men.

Modern comic books tend to showcase the art, rather than the plots and characters. You’ll find that these newer comic books have very little text, with larger panels. If you compare modern comics to comic books from the 60s, you’ll see that while there is far less that occurs page-to-page, the panels are much larger. Showcasing the art in modern comics leaves the eye with too many places to go and magnifies any and all flaws in the artwork.

Purchasing a $3 to $4 issue holds no promise of fulfillment. You can read these three issues of Omega Men and take note: virtually no character development and little plot movement. The series disrespects the reader by leaving the characters’ abilities, the cultures’ beliefs, unexplained. The books, and I’m not just talking about Omega Men here, are shrouded in mystery. And as I learned about the Omega Men (not from the book), I wondered why. The characters, Broot in particular, hold so much potential. Why not take advantage of that?

Broot could have been awesome, but he seemed to mindlessly follow Primus and do not much else.

In the third issue of Omega Men, I found Princess Kalista annoying and the plot confusing. I also found it disappointing because the plot failed to thicken or grab my interest. Feral Atom thought that I would like Kalista, a hard-nosed, headstrong woman that can handle herself in a battle, but I was about as far from liking her as possible. She acts like a princess, not a sword master. She fights natives who are armed, yes, but apparently have never held a sword before in their lives. Then she battles Tigorr, and almost loses, but he is actually on her side. Very simply, she felt snotty and arrogant, perhaps as royalty should. The realism here isn’t needed, as too many characters are already unlikable and unrelatable.

Kalista didn’t strike me as an above-average fighter. The opponents she faced seemed incapable of defeating virtually anyone using swords.

Tigorr looked awesome and acted vicious and animalistic, as one would expect. But the reaches of his character didn’t expand beyond that. The team didn’t really treat him like a team member, more like a stray cat that took care of the mice occasionally. When he is suspected of being dead, Broot and Primus act as if it doesn’t matter whether he has died or will do so some other time.

Tigorr looked cool, but didn’t have much of a personality.

Primus was utterly ineffectual, leaving you wondering why he is the leader of the group. The books leave you in the dark about what his abilities are, and he doesn’t strike you as exceedingly smart, so why would he even be on the team? Much less leading it.

Primus blew up a guy’s brain in the previous panel, but his mental capabilities remained otherwise unused.

Like I said, I later found out that Broot is really cool, but I found him bland in this new series. He has potential, maybe, but is in need of a more fleshed out character.

The Alphas say ‘we are friends’ an awful lot. You never find out exactly why.

I thought that I might like Scrapps, though. She had a kind of fun, sarcastic air about her, fitted nicely with gallows humor here and there. But her personality felt watered down. Whether she has powers of her own, aside from knowing how to use a gun, we never find out.

An awesome pic of Scrapps. I think she looked cooler with the hood.

The Omega Men series doesn’t give the reader enough time to like the characters or enjoy the plot. Reading the first three issues doesn’t give you a sense of accomplishment. It doesn’t leave you wanting more, either. It leaves you wondering if you somehow missed something. Twelve issues of modern comics could easily make up one issue of a comic from the Silver Age.

The cultures and religions were semi-interesting, I suppose, but the books failed to elaborate on them. The Alphas and Omegas are both equally murderous, unmerciful and convinced that they are so much better than each other. True, this is a pattern that history has followed and a laudable analog, perhaps. But it doesn’t allow the reader a chance to root for the Omega Men, unless previously exposed to the team.

This is the page where the Omega Men insert a watch into Kyle Rayner’s neck. A watch that will explode if Kyle does anything remotely wrong. The Omega Men feel just as bad as the Alphas.

And I disliked the incessant usage of the Alphas’ alien language. It was confusing, unnecessary and (again) disrespectful to the reader. What’s the point of filling panel after panel of uncompromisable gibberish? The Alphas could speak English, so it seemed like a needless addition. I could understand if they wanted to give the series a more multicultural effect by adding other languages, but they should have translated it.

This is part of a whole page where absolutely nothing happens.

I’ve got to say, I’m happy DC still prices these at 2.99. But the $9 spent on these three issues would’ve been better spent on a trade paperback, like Ms. Marvel, or a Golden Age or Silver Age collection.

There are a number of simple things comic books could do to interest new readers, like me. The obvious one being fleshing out the characters. Plots, in any form of entertainment, rely on good characters. A bad character can easily nullify an amazing storyline, because it gives you nothing to root for. It takes suspense away, because you don’t really care about what happens to the character. It defeats the purpose of quests and journeys and interactions with other characters. So building up their characters, issue over issue rather than relying on reader’s knowledge of their past, would add a great value to comic books.

Showing the reader respect is another way of cleaning up comic books’ acts. In Silver Age comic books, the plot was usually wrapped up at the end of each issue. And yet, it still left you wanting to read more. Obviously, the mystery and slow-moving plots aren’t necessary to obligate the reader to buy the next issue. For me, it does the exact opposite.

This is one of the most confusing panels in the series thus far. This and the following page felt extremely unnecessary.

Making more occur per issue would also solve the problem. Not more pages, but more material per page. It allows you to get to know the characters better and refines the plot to fewer issues. The books are so bogged down with filler and enigma, you can’t enjoy any novelty the plot might have due to confusion and boredom.

Each issue should give you value, satisfy you that something actually happened, rather than stalling. To give the reader something with substance (e.i. quality characters, movement of the plot, explanations for these all-the-rage obscurities) would be beneficial.

Feel free to share your thoughts with me on this and other posts via comments or likes. Thanks!


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