Friday, August 31, 2007

1970's Flashback: Omega the Unknown

Omega the Unknown was published by Marvel Comics starting in 1976 and ran for 10 issues before being cancelled due to low sales. The series, written by Steve Gerber; with Mary Skrenes and illustrated by Jim Mooney, has become something of a cult classic due to its intriguing characterizations and unusual storytelling. Later this year, the character will be revived in a new mini-series by novelist Jonathan Lethem. Omega's powers included: super-strength, flight and energy projection.

Unlike most superhero comics, the focus of Omega the Unknown isn't on the mysterious person in a costume & cape. In Omega the Unknown, the story deals with a highly mature 12 year old boy named James-Michael Starling. Through the series short run, it is intimated that there is a connection between the mute Omega and the detached & analytical James-Michael.

In Omega the Unknown #1, the character of Omega is shown to be the last survivor of an unnamed alien race. He escapes from mechanical beings, who have devastated his planet, in a ship bound for Earth. The story then shifts to young James-Michael waking up and having dreamed the events that just occurred with Omega.
In his waking world, James-Michael and his parents are moving to New York City from some remote mountain region so that he can learn socialization skills after years of home-schooling. En route to New York their car is driven off the road and both of his parents are killed, but not before he discovers that both of them were actually robots. James-Michael collapses into a coma and awakens a month later in a private hospital exhibiting an eerie lack of emotional response to his parents' deaths. The hospital is later attacked by similar mechanical beings that destroyed Omega's home world, and Omega himself appears to defend James-Michael. The superhero and the android fight, but the conflict ends when James-Michael himself destroys the alien mechanism with energy bursts from his hands (an effect used by Omega in James-Michael's dreams).

Following this exciting start, various supporting characters are introduced, Omega encounters a series of second-string villains and even faces off against the Incredible Hulk, all the while ever more tantalizing clues on the relationship between Omega & James-Michael are dropped from issue-to-issue, however in the last issue Omega himself is killed, leaving the mysteries of the story unresolved.

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