I really like the work of writer Tom King on stuff like Batman and The Vision, and I’m hoping to get to his Mr. Miracle sometime soon. But everybody has to start somewhere, and usually that means a lesser-known group to see what the new guy can do. You don’t just hand the reins of the Dark Knight off to some rookie.
Anyway, that means I decided to try his early DC work, the 12 issue mini-series The Omega Men: The End is Near.
The Omega Men, for those who don’t know, are a lesser-known space-based superhero team of freedom fighters who battled the oppressive forces of the Citadel in the Vega System. For this series, they still basically are that group, but they come across as something closer to guerrilla fighters that the Citadel paints as terrorists. The fighting has been going on for quite some time, and one thing the six planets of the Vega system all seem to have in common is a religious belief in “Alpha” and “Omega”. These seem to be gods of some kind depending on the planet, but Alpha basically means the beginning and Omega the end, so yeah, now the Omega Men have a more portentous name than they used to.
Into this mess steps Kyle Rayner, currently going as the universe’s lone “White Lantern,” meaning he can access all the different colors in the emotional spectrum. Kyle, meaning well, comes in to attempt to negotiate a peace between the Citadel and the Omega Men. There are rules against any Lantern going into the Vega system, so Kyle surrenders his ring to the Citadel…and then gets caught by the Omega Men who fake his execution on video, put what they say is a bomb in his throat, and keep him around.
Oh, and to make matters a little more interesting, the Vega System is the only known place in the universe that provides a rare element that can keep planets from exploding like Krypton. As such, many worlds are willing to look the other way when it comes to what the Citadel does to its citizens.
So, this was a fairly complicated story all told, and maybe one that mostly works better as it goes along. Given King’s background with the CIA, this may actually be the one that he drew most from his own background. The Omega Men aren’t straight-up good guys here, and a superhero like Kyle wants to impress upon them that they maybe don’t need to kill their enemies. At the same time, it does seem he is being recruited by the Omega Men in their fight. King also gives each of the Omega Men, here reduced to a core group of six, a backstory that connects them to the corrupt and brutal practices of the Citadel, and this isn’t the sort of story that ends happily for anyone. That said, it starts slow, and it doesn’t help that King attempts to give the different aliens distinctive dialects and even untranslated alien alphabets. That disappears over time, but you’ll need some patience to get into the groove for this one. 8.5 out of 10 medical robots that didn’t always do that.