Well, the fact of life for me is that for every good book that I enjoy and want to rave about (see Uncanny X-Men, Vol. II, #1), then I have to take the bad as well. Or else my dogs go hungry. And the kid too. Unless the dogs eat the kid…
In that "bad" category, we have this week's O.M.A.C. #3, brought to you by Dan DiDio and Keith Giffen. I know that the message board masses are giddy with excitement, as the only thing that makes them happier than Dan DiDio bashing is… well, nothing really, come to think of it… but it's not all his fault, and I at least know what he is trying to accomplish here, which to some degree he does. The goal that DiDio and Giffen clearly have with this series is to make it feel as much like a classic, 1970s Jack Kirby DC title, and that spirit is clearly here, with over-the-top action, otherworldly technology, and bizarre creatures. Giffen also does a nice job of capturing the energy that Kirby's artwork had.
That is where the comparisons end, however.
Artistically, Giffen is doing his best to ape Kirby, but in most places it comes across as him aping John Byrne aping Kirby. See the first panel on page 17 (of 20 – shorter in some cases is an improvement…) and you will see exactly what I am talking about, with the female character (no, I don't remember her name, and that's the story's fault, not mine) possessing trademark Byrne eyes and smile.
Most of the criticism I have comes from the story though. If you have not read Jim Shooter's outstanding blog (and, Lord knows, we at Bleeding Cool have found plenty of newsworthy things there), his recent critiques on the New 52 were based very much on an old-school style of storytelling, and the criteria used there is especially fitting here considering that the attempt is to do a traditional, Kirby-esque story. Shooter's largest criticism has been of stories where a new reader simply cannot jump into the issue without having any clue of what has come before, and that is certainly the case here. We are given no indication whatsoever as to who Maxwell Lord is or why we should care, and that goes beyond just this issue, as unless one was familiar with the DCU before entering the DCnU, one would have no idea whatsoever why they should care about Lord. That DiDio has failed to recognize that, despite his having stressed repeatedly that the New 52 would be reader-friendly for any that had never read a DC comic before, highlighting one of his many weaknesses as a writer.
The same is true of Sarge Steel, who we are given some idea must be important because the letterer bolded his name when Max first said his name, but that's really it. Plus, Brother Eye never receives any sort of introduction this issue, and through all three issues we have yet to get any indication how he/it fits into the greater scheme of things. Oh, and a computer would know that it's "try to contain me," not "try and contain me," but what's a little grammar between friends?
There are plenty of characters here that could be interesting, and could go somewhere with a competent writer, but instead we have a hi-tech version of the Hulk, running from one encounter to another, without any sense of why. Unlike Bruce Banner, though, we have no reason to root for Kevin Kho. He has a girlfriend, who we know nothing about other than that she somehow has an answering machine hooked up to her cellphone. He works as yet another faceless drone in a cubicle, but we have no reason to care about that other than that he smashed it up in the first issue. Other than that, tabula rasa.
If all you are looking for is a throwback to grid layout style panels and throwback-like artwork, then this book is your thing, but if you are looking for a little more substance, there are better places to look.