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The OMAC Project #3

The OMAC Project #3

Scheduled to arrive in stores: June 29, 2005

Cover date: August 2005

Writer: Greg Rucka
Penciller: Jesus Saiz, Cliff Richards and Bob Wiacek
Inker: Jesus Saiz, Cliff Richards and Bob Wiacek

"The M-E in Team"

Neal Bailey Reviewed by: Neal Bailey

Click to enlarge

Batman and Sasha face off against the three OMAC agents. They evade, mostly, and as Sasha is about to tell Batman who the new leader of Checkmate is, one stuns her into unconsciousness and takes her away, shooting Batman through the shoulder with a laser.

Batman battles with the remaining OMAC agents. One grabs him, crushes his neck guard, binds his hands, and blasts him into the water with an eye bolt.

Batman almost drowns, but Superman arrives at the last second, pulling him out of the water and setting him on the ground. Superman tries to find the OMAC agents, but he can't find them. They've turned back into sleeper agents and disappeared.

Batman tells Superman he has to get to the Watchtower.

In space, Booster and Wonder Woman examine satellites, searching for Brother I. Guy Gardner shows up, and begins asking why they're not out getting together the old JLA and putting the hurt on whoever killed Beetle.

Wonder Woman explains that they are searching for the killers, but Guy makes oblong comments about her rack and tells her to shut up.

Wonder Woman smashes him into the satellite and threatens to take his ring finger. Guy attacks her, and Booster puts a blast between the two of them, shutting the fight down. Wonder Woman apologizes. Booster grabs Guy and they head off to find Fire.

Max comes into the cell where Sasha is being held, along with Jessica Midnight. He takes out the rag that he uses to catch the blood from his nose when he pushes someone and begins interrogating her. He asks if Batman knows about the OMAC virus. He fails to get any information. Jessica looks on, like she knows something.

At the Watchtower, Batman indicates that he's about to go find the people who co-opted Brother I and take them down. Superman promises to look for the satellite, and Wonder Woman tells them she plans on checking on Rocket Red and Beetle's dead villain.

Max boots up the Brother I and starts to record a message, telling an unknown person that if they don't act, the people that person loves will be killed, the world will be destroyed. He tells the person that they've always relied on him for protection.

Superman, as Clark Kent, receives the message, and promises, under Max's influence, that he will protect us.

5Story - 5: I've always wondered why they didn't do more with this kind of plot... Superman being taken over by folks and used to devious ends. Of course, there was the time when Brainiac traded bodies with Superman and a kid, that was interesting, and there was the time when Bizarro and Superman switched places... but really, there hasn't been too much of a co-opting of Superman's brain and abilities.

Eclipso took Superman a few weeks ago, so we can tell that a number of writers are flirting with the idea, but really, I think Sacrifice is going to hammer it home, and really show a great story relating as to what happens when Superman is taken over, goes nuts... or more chilling, what happens when Superman's critical humanistic flaw, that he values his friends and family over others, is exploited to its full extent.

There were a few problems... primarily technical. The first one being that there's no reason that Superman should not have been able to track and find the OMAC agents, even if they converted to another form. Superman has infra-scopic vision (something admittedly not seen for the better part of ten years, but it's there), meaning he can follow heat trails. He used to do it a lot in the late Byrne years, and I always thought it was a cool trick, because then he can follow people so they don't get away. A neat power. Here, the OMAC agents whup on Batman and pull the ipso switcho, but Superman doesn't use the infra-vision to find them. But then, maybe Max is influencing him even then? Still, it wasn't said, so I can't assume it.

[UPDATE: A-HAH! Or CAN I? Mr. Rucka himself chimed in on this matter (He read the review, woo hoo! How cool is that?), and he pointed out that the reason Superman doesn't chase is precisely because of the mental block. Max has given him a blind spot for anything OMAC or Brother I related. Now THAT is an interesting twist to the old policy I've used of having to have it said explicitly in the comic, isn't it? I never expected to actually be able to know. It just says to me that Greg Rucka cares about the experience we're having, andagonizes over it. With that in mind, knowing that now, I've modified my rating for story accordingly. VERY cool!]

Also, it seemed a little out of place for Wonder Woman to say "ass". My prudish side that has the archetype of these characters in my head says, "Hey, she says darn instead of damn, and curses instead of keeee-rap!". But I re-read it a few times, and it's obvious she's just mocking Gardner's butthead attitude. Still, italics or perhaps quotations showing that she was mocking might have made it more efficient.

That's a little nit, though. The rest of the work is pretty top-notch, up to and including (controvertibly) Wonder Woman smacking Guy into a satellite and destroying it.

The way I look at it, if Superman had done that, I'd have fricassee fried the writer, but this is Wonder Woman. She cuts the head off Medusa, she doesn't screw around. She's a strong, bold, feminist woman who won't be put aside, so it makes sense that she's object to a guy like Guy Gardner. In fact, thinking about it, I'm surprised Batman decked Guy before Diana, but hey, at least now that's been rectified. I've always found Guy to be a necessary abrasive, because it's always fun to see him get put in his place for being a numbskull. Warrior was boring, his cheesy, 80s archetype personality is awesome. That's just what I think.

The battle with the OMAC agents ruled. It was Batman to a T, as we know Rucka can do. He doesn't run like hell, he stands his ground, thinks, and actually says to himself, "Okay. Let's see how to take these things down."

Of course, he loses, and Superman saves his butt, but you can't help thinking that Batman's under the water readying about 18 different brands of plastic explosives and a glider to fly over and destroy these guys, all without killing them now that he knows they're living. That's what I like about Bats... he's like Luthor. Always a backup plan.

Well executed scene... although I half expected Batman to be pulling the same stuff Max is, listening to a recording of the fight later and hearing Sasha say, "Maxgggggg!" and trying to piece it together.

The rift between the old league and the new league is well played, and to be honest, it's an examination of the old fan versus the new fan. Some of the most stringent supporters of the old league probably feel exactly like Guy, some probably realize the power and efficiency of the new, Wonder Woman league, but most are in the middle, like me, with Booster, moving and evolving with the story. I like that examination, because it shows continuity, which we need.

And Jessica Midnight... it looked like she was helping Sasha. Is it possible she's hiding a latent power? How the heck did Sasha resist? One thing I know from reliability of the past... Rucka will tell. I'm eager to know, though, which is the sign of a good story. I actually care about the story and the character enough to go on Wednesday, period, whenever an OMAC comes out.

All in all, still the best of the Countdown books so far...

4Art - 4: The art is a bit dark for my tastes, especially when Superman and Wonder Woman are around. Batman, it makes sense, but Superman brightens a room, and that's not fully conveyed here.

Still, that said, the whole of the art is very well done, even divided between artists, as it was. Especially memorable was the fight and Superman pulling Batman from the water, and that dopey expression on Clark in the end, like, "I'm a good boy! Dur!". It's chilling, to be honest. And Max, taking his glee in stealing minds...half of that is the artist, and it's really pulled off well. The tone of Checkmate is also something I really enjoy, along with the OMAC sleepers. I can see them as being a fixture in the DCU (provided they're not all wiped out somehow) for a long time, given how well and definitively they're being established here.

Good work.

1Cover Art - 1: This cover reminds me of Brawl, if any of you remember him... and that scene by Bog where Doomsday has both of those construction workers held up in the air, crushing their heads. Except this image is so dingy and gritty that it takes away a lot of the excitement and efficacy. It also looks like Batman hasn't been eating very well, and given that he's supposed to have the most toned human body around next to mine, well, anyway, you get the picture.

I mean, look at Batman's legs! Dude! Eat some Weight Gain 2000! BE A BEEFCAKE!

Sasha looks in better shape than Bats, and that is SAD SAD SAD.

Also, the way Sasha's being held is, to put it bluntly, impossible.

The background is strange and forced, the perspective is odd, and heck, it's just dull. How it could be the cover of a book that rocked so hard otherwise is beyond me, but then, you know, covers have pretty consistently disappointed me for a while. Maybe it's growing up in the 90s with them gatefolds. Or maybe it's just that I've seen so many good covers that a sub-par one hackles me...who knows? Either way, it didn't work.

Mild Mannered Reviews


Note: Month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic went on sale.

January 2005

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