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Writing TitleWRITING FOR COMICS, continued

THE OMEGA MEN

The Omega Men were created by Marv Wolfman and Joe Staton, and began making guest appearances in several of the books Marv was writing in the early 1980s. They were connected to Starfire of THE NEW TEEN TITANS, who came from the same Vegan star system. In April of 1983, DC Comics began a new series featuring the characters on top quality paper, written by Roger Slifer, art by Keith Giffen. Both these creators left the book in 1984, and while looking around for a new regular team, some fill-ins were commissioned. I was assigned two issues, 14 and 15, and while I hadn't been a big fan of the series to that point, I found it growing on me when I had the chance to write it. Doug Moench took over as regular writer for a while, but in 1985 he also left. Editor Alan Gold asked me for a proposal detailing what I'd do with the book if given it as a regular assignment, and he must have liked it, as I became the writer with issue 26, taking the book in a new direction.

OMEGA MEN 14, May 1984, "Confessions". Art by Tod Smith and Ricardo Villagran. Kind of a "men against nature" story featuring Tigorr and Primus, two of the main characters who didn't get along well, but here had a chance to bond. Also got to dump on the villain Bedlam, former partner of Lobo, which was fun.

OMEGA MEN 15, June 1984, "Under Siege". Art by Tod Smith and Romeo Tanghal. I think my assignment here was to wrap up some of the previous storylines to make a relatively clean slate for the new regular writer. Lots of melodrama as Primus leads a battle siege.

OMEGA MEN 26, May 1985, "The Unquiet Void". Art by Shawn McManus and Bob Smith. The beginning of my regular run on the series. Shawn had done some work for Heavy Metal magazine, and a few issues of Swamp Thing, but I believe this was his first regular series. He actually began on #25, the last Doug Moench issue. Shawn was great to work with, and we had long talks about the characters and the stories. Here I took the series a few years into the future and dropped the readers into the middle of a battle against The Spider Guild (which I'd created in GREEN LANTERN), introducing new characters The Green Man (also from GREEN LANTERN), Starfire's brother Ryand'r and Elu. Readers were puzzled, but many of them stayed to see where we went. Shawn did fabulous covers with painted color on many of these.

Omega Men 26 cover

©DC Comics, Inc.

OMEGA MEN 27, June 1985, "Transfiguration". Art by Shawn McManus and Bob Smith. Even more disorientation, as the Omega Men gradually awaken in a strange new environment, not knowing where they are or how they got there. This storyline was an attempt to develop the characters on a micro level, then gradually give them more information over several issues until they had the big picture, along with the reader. I also worked in a tribute to J. M. Barrie's "Peter Pan" in this issue.

OMEGA MEN 28, July 1985, "The Synoptic Net". Art by Shawn McManus. I felt Shawn's art looked best when he inked it himself, as here. We now know that the Omega Men are prisoners of The Psions, ancient scientist villains (not created by me) in a place called Wombworld. This issue we meet Synapse, a 'Tweener, and the mysterious Artin.

OMEGA MEN 29, Aug. 1985, "Lethal Science". Art by Shawn McManus and Steve Mitchell. The Omega Men continue deeper into the world of the Psions, uncovering secrets and confronting dangers, leading to a confrontation with Artin...or is it their former leader Primus? One of Shawn's most effective covers -- lots of drama, all of it implied.

Omega Men 29 cover

©DC Comics, Inc.

OMEGA MEN 30, Sept. 1985, "Origin of Species". Art by Shawn McManus. The culmination of the Psion storyline. For those who were wondering what happened to Primus, here are some answers. Plus some new information about The Green Man, a new spaceship for the team, a grand escape, and the final reveal about where they've been.

OMEGA MEN 31, Oct. 1985, "In Transit". Art on main story by Shawn McManus, art on Vega interlude by Ernie Colon and Bill Collins. A somewhat fractured issue, divided by a "Crisis on Infinite Earths" crossover section that really had nothing to do with my story, but sent some of the characters I wasn't using into other books. In the main story, the Omegans rescue some refugees, and find out what Synapse the 'Tweener has been up to.

OMEGA MEN ANNUAL 2, 1985, "The Testimony of Primus". Art on framing story by Shawn McManus, chapter art by Ernie Colon and Gary Martin, Tod Smith and Ricardo Villagran, Keith Giffen and Gary Martin, Kevin O'Neill. This 41-page story was fun to write, as it allowed me to fill in a lot of the back story between Primus and Kalista, and to have some favorite artists step in to help, several recreating the look of their previous work on Omega Men (or in the case of Kevin O'Neill, the Green Lantern Corps story we did together). I like this painted cover by Shawn, though it doesn't scan very well.

Omega Men Annual 2 cover

©DC Comics, Inc.

OMEGA MEN 32, Nov. 1985, "Nightlife". Art by Dan Spiegle. Regular artist Shawn had been falling behind, as often happens, so editor Alan Gold requested a fill-in. I was very happy to have the legendary Dan Spiegle on the art. The story focuses on Felicity, who hadn't been seen yet in my issues, a mysterious man who helps her find success as an exotic dancer, and a series of slasher killings. I'm quite happy with the script of this one...I even fooled my editor as to the identity of the killer on his first read-through. You need to read carefully to figure it out.

OMEGA MEN 33, Dec. 1985, "Storm Warnings". Art by Shawn McManus. The Omegans find a new home far from the turmoil of the Vegan System, but of course, they can't really escape from trouble. The mad goddess X'Hal, unseen for many issues, is finally coming back to bedevil them.

OMEGA MEN 34, Jan. 1986, "Sons and Brothers". Art by Rich Buckler and Pablo Marcos. In a blatant attempt in increase sagging sales, we engineered a crossover with The New Teen Titans. It worked, but when the second half of the story appeared in NTT #16, writer Marv Wolfman didn't follow through on some of the story elements I set up, so I can't say it was a success storywise. I did enjoy writing The New Teen Titans characters briefly.

DC COMICS PRESENTS 89: Superman vs. The Omega Men, Jan. 1986, "Metropolis Wasn't Built in a Day...or Was It?" Written by Bob Rozakis and Todd Klein, art by Alex Saviuk and Ricardo Villagran. This was fun to do. Editor Julie Schwartz requested a team-up for his book, and I came up with the original idea of using a Superman who wasn't really from a favorite long-past issue. We put it on Kuraq, the new Omegan homeworld as established in issue 33, and used just three Omegans: Harpis, Tigorr and Oho-Besh, a new Broot-like character I'd introduced. Bob Rozakis and I plotted the story over lunch with Julie, in his traditional manner, and then we co-wrote, with Bob handling all the "Superman" stuff and I the "Omega Men" stuff.

OMEGA MEN 35, Feb. 1986, "Mad Love", art by Shawn McManus, and Vega backup "Hokum for Breakfast", art by Ron Randall. This issue got back on track with the climax of the long-running X'Hal: mad goddess storyline. I thought Shawn did a nice job, and the story was one of the better ones. The Vega backup was my first chance to work with Ron Randall, and I thought he did very well on the art.

OMEGA MEN 36, March 1986, "The Last Days of Broot", art by Chuck Patton and Bob Smith, plus Vega backup "A Place Beyond Fear", art by Jan Duursema. The word had come down at this point that the series would end with issue 38, so it was time to wrap up some old storylines. The main one here tells the fate of Broot, one of the original team that hadn't yet been seen in my issues. Shawn opted to focus on the extra-long final issue, so we brought in other artists. Chuck Patton did a fine job here. The backup continued from 35 with very nice art by Jan Duursema.

OMEGA MEN 37, April 1986, "I Alone Remain", art by Martin King and Greg Theakston, and Vega backup "Partners", art and co-plot by Keith Giffen. Storylines are winding down here in the main section. The Vega backup brought original series artist Keith Giffen back to help send off one of his creations, which he did masterfully.

OMEGA MEN 38, May 1986, "Omega!", art by Shawn McManus and Steve Montano. The big finale, as I tried to wrap up all the existing storylines in as satisfying a way as I could in one extra-long issue. Didn't get them all, but I'm happy with it, and felt I left things on a hopeful note. Unfortunately, most of these characters have not fared well since.

TEEN TITANS SPOTLIGHT 15, Oct. 1987, "Leaving Home", art by Erik Larsen and Dell Barras. I had one last chance to work with some of these characters in this issue, which focused on Ryand'r, but filled in some of what the others had been up to since the end of their own series. I remember editor Barbara Randall asking me if I thought a new artist, Erik Larsen would do for the job, and I took a look at other things he'd done, and thought he'd be fine. Wonder what ever happened to that guy?

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