Writer: Tom King
Artists: Bobby Bagenda, Tony Cypress, IG Guara & Jose Marzon Jr.
Colorists: Romulo Farjado Jr., Tomeu Morey, HI-FI
Letterer: Pat Brosseau
Series and collection cover artist: Trevor Hutchinson
Omega Men created by Marv Wolfman and Joe Station
Publisher: DC Comics
The Omega Men: The End is Here, written by Tom King, was as under the radar for me as the space sector this story takes place in. Luckily, I didn’t have to worry with Tom King bearing the torch to light my way through it, leaving me with some good reading. With that being said I am focusing my attention with this review on Tom King’s ability to write characters.
The Vega System
This story takes place in the Vega system of space. A sector that has an off-limits policy for any Green Lantern Corps that try to patrol here. The main source of profit here is selling a rare material that can prevent planets from blowing up, (Krypton being the biggest example for many). This stuff sells so well that is leaves those running things living the high life. The premise of this story is that not all people are happy about how things are being run. The Citadel has taken over all the planets and lifeforms on them, forcing them into subjugation.
This leads to the genesis of The Omega Men. Freedom fighters from all over the sector trying to put an end to corruption and mistreatment. Viewed as terrorists, Kyle Rayner aka the White Lantern aka Space Jesus hears about everything going on in the Vega system and decides to step in. He offers to play negotiator to find a peaceful solution to preserve life within the system as is the White Lantern way of doing things. Kyle takes off his ring in good faith only to be captured by the Omega Men. This is where our story begins.
Right off the bat, I know I’m in for a Tom King story. The opening issue strongly resembling his most recent work, Mister Miracle. The first few pages present a nine-panel grid, complete with a random glitching panel. This foreshadows well that not everything is as it seems. Both Tom King and the artists on this team do an amazing job of utilizing the size and amount of panels to get the tone and story across. The six to nine-panel pages did a great job allowing me to focus in on the impact of the decisions characters were making, as well as giving us more depth to them. For instance, larger panels do a great job providing the spectacle, showing the scale of The Omega Men vs. the Citadel has around them.
Through Kyle, (held prisoner, tied up or bleeding out through most of the story) we are introduced to The Omega Men. We got; Primus: The non-violent leader of the group, Tigorr: A big cat man who likes to fight, Broot: A religious rock like strong dude, Scrapps: A girl with guns and a pension for ultra-violence, DOC: A robot, Kalista: A princess who is really good with swords and would spend each morning fighting a couple natives to the planet till she killed them as a morning ritual (I’ll stick to my morning cup of coffee over that). In other words, they have a problem with how things are run will to do whatever it takes to make a change.
Heroes are like Onions
Can Tom King write a really good superhero story? He could but I enjoy plenty of writers who can. Can he write an amazingly personal and emotional story about a character? You bet he can! Tom King can write his way through the DCU like this and I will throw dollars at him! His characterization to me seems to be a tribute Shrek’s metaphor about being similar to an onion (because they have lots of layers). I have since referred to his characters in his books as “the onions” and he sells some damn good onions. The story gives us a glimpse, panel by panel, into each of these characters and what makes them tick under the surface. Characters like Scrapps, who throughout the series is ultra violent and lacking empathy towards others yet shows somewhat more respect towards DOC.
Through the panels provided, we begin to see the source of her rage towards the Citadel. We see a genocide of her people caused by the Citadel’s greed, providing more history of the system’s corruption. Tigorr, DOC and Broot are all revealed to have complicated pasts. These heavily impact and influence the choices they make in the series. Where they end up at the end has us left with plenty of mixed emotions (In a good way).
Kalista and Primus present as onions with the opposite effect, however. For example, both characters’ personalities and backstories are provided to you right away. Tom didn’t forget the layers for these two onions though. While Primus practiced non-violence, he had to break that rule in order to achieve the freedom and peace he desired. Primus’s hard decision weighs on him throughout their rebellion. For instance, violenc was used as his first response when opposed by the very protesters he was once a part of. Kalista, who joined the cause to end the needless death, mistreatment, and tyranny, also ends on a more sour note. Constant sacrifices for the cause and a believed necessity in violence became an appealing thing to her. We end her story with Kalista filling the void that the Omega Men helped create by becoming as ruthless as the those they fought against.
The End is Here!
In short, not only do I enjoy Tom peeling back the layers of these onions, but I also love Kyle’s role in this story. Honestly, it’s not much. He was a captive that they were trying to turn to their cause. I was felt as frustrated as Kyle was at how he is unable to stop anything from happening around him. It’s a hard pill to swallow, seeing that a hero can’t always save everyone. I found a great moment in the story when Kyle describes the actions that The Omega Men and the Citadel take. They only see things as black or white while he sees more than that. Kyle believes that looking outside their perspective can provide an alternative solution to the problems. He does this with an awesome emotional spectrum metaphor. Spoilers. It does not go well for him.
Tom’s writing shows that even in a universe of heroes and people who seek to do good, they are still only human (or alien, in this case). Heroes have bent or been broken tragically by the cruelties of what is subjected to them. It’s this great attention to the minds of the characters that makes Tom King one of my favorite writers. He isn’t just writing about the heroes battling villains, but heroes battling themselves. In short, if you like onions, or even just seeing a whole different side to all the blockbuster big action superheroes out there. I would check out some of Tom King’s work for the real feels.