OMAC #1, September-October 1974

I do love OMAC. It’s one of my very favourite comics. It didn’t last long, was produced by an unhappy Jack Kirby during the dying days of his career at DC comics that had begun oh so promisingly just four years previously, and is largely one long fight scene. But, for all that, it’s fabulous! As you’d expect, it’s full of ideas as Kirby takes the boy-becomes-superhero paradigm of Shazam and transplants it into the futuristic “World That’s Coming”. A world where criminals can buy whole cities to host parties, where people can cheat death by swapping bodies, where the police hide their faces behind expressionless masks, where a monster has cyclotrons for eyes, where a criminal can steal an ocean by condensing it into a brick. It’s a wild, wild ride, but one that’s well worth taking.

In the premier issue shown above, the theme is isolation and alienation as, in the World That’s Coming, people find it difficult to relate to others, and turn to artificial substitutes instead. OMAC smashes an outfit selling soulless love dolls — the Build-A-Friends — and gains a set of elderly strangers as “parents”. This was in 1974, of course, and today we have children bought and sold to strangers, and you can buy your very own love doll, with real hair, synthetic skin, and plastic bones. They don’t walk and talk, but otherwise Kirby was bang on the money…

The whole series is collected in a lovely hard cover volume. What’s more, it includes a full size double-page spread that wasn’t in the comics themselves: it only appeared as a shrunken single panel when the page count was suddenly reduced. That alone may well be worth the price of admission!

Cover, and this seriously disturbing image, by Jack Kirby.

build a friend

Images ©2011 DC Comics