Evil pool cleaners and sentient haircuts: Dan DiDio talks DC Comics' new series, O.M.A.C.

Illustration for article titled Evil pool cleaners and sentient haircuts: Dan DiDio talks DC Comics new series, O.M.A.C.

One of the stranger series included in DC's September relaunch is OMAC by Dan DiDio and Keith Giffen. In San Diego, DiDio explained how Jack Kirby's dimetrodon-coiffed hero fits into DC's new universe.

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The OMACs have a storied history in the DC Universe — there was Jack Kirby's original 1970s series and Greg Rucka more recently turned the OMACs into nanotech cyborgs in Infinite Crisis. What sort of approach are you taking with this OMAC?

We're actually taking a lot of different pieces of it. We're taking a lot of the early stuff that Kirby did. In the very first issue we have Build-A-Friends. We're bringing back Dr. Scuba, and he's a malevolent pool cleaner.

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We're having a lot of fun with crazy eclectic stylistics from the early Kirby version, but we're leaning on a lot of stuff that Greg did — we're going into Brother Eye's motivations and what his conflict is with Max Lord. That's a very important part of the story. But the best part is that I got to work with Keith Giffen. He's really brought that Kirby dynamic and scope.

Illustration for article titled Evil pool cleaners and sentient haircuts: Dan DiDio talks DC Comics new series, O.M.A.C.

Your previously worked on The Outsiders, another group of fringe DC superheroes. What is the appeal of these side heroes for you?

I love the quirky nature of the side characters. In this particular case, we're telling a story of loss of personal control. OMAC is about a man named Kevin Kho. He's very controlling of his orderly life, a little OCD. He becomes OMAC and is led by Brother Eye's machinations, and he's struggling to regain access to his own life. Every time he does gain a little bit, it's ripped away from him.

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Every issue has a single sensibility. We want to start in a very mundane normal environment. The first issue takes place in an office building, the second issue takes place in a diner, the third issue takes place in a bank. What happens is that we show how out-of-control his life gets when OMAC's involved and how crazy it makes the world around him.

Let's talk about Dr. Scuba, the evil pool cleaner.

We went back and read the first eight issues of [Jack Kirby's OMAC] over and over again. In this case, what we saw was one character who really stood out, Dr. Scuba. We wanted to find a way to make him work today. You find out that he's this dreaded genetic scientist who's taken on a pool cleaning job. The way he cleans pools is rather dramatic and ultimately affects OMAC's life.

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The original OMAC probably has one of the best haircuts in comic history. Was there ever a doubt that OMAC's mohawk would be shorn?

Never a doubt about it. It is a signature piece of OMAC. Keith wanted to find a way to do it differently, and it has a slight waving aspect. It's crackling with energy and really is an aspect of his personality.

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So it's almost sentient?

Exactly.

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DISCUSSION

chalkshark
chalkshark

Those that fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them. Between 1975 to 1978, DC Comics added 57 new titles to it's publishing schedule. This was done in an attempt to boost sales. 20 of those books died a quick, terrible death, so sudden that many of them were mid-story when they got the axe. Nearly a dozen more had just enough time to see the writing on the wall to wrap up their story lines, & reach a natural series conclusion point. A few lucky titles found purchase in anthology books like Adventure Comics & World's Finest, & were able to finish out their story lines.

I have no doubt that titles like Batman, Green Lantern, & Justice League will continue to find an audience, despite DC's insanity. O.M.A.C. doesn't stand a prayer. Jack Kirby couldn't sell it in the 70's. Jim Starlin couldn't sell it in the 70's. John Byrne couldn't sell it in the 90's. Greg Rucka's complete re-imagining of the concept has failed to generate a large fan base.

Giffen's track record with niche characters hasn't been good. Trencher, The March Hare, Nick Fury's Howling Commandos, The Suicide Squad, The Defenders, The Doom Patrol, The Heckler, Eclipso, all crashed & burned with Giffen at the helm. I don't blame Giffen for the failure of those series. He's proven himself to be a good writer. Unfortunately, he's drawn to obscure characters, like O.M.A.C., that just don't have large enough appeal to sustain an ongoing title, regardless of how cool the concept behind the characters may be.

O.M.A.C is one of the few titles I plan to pick up from the "new" DC, based solely on Giffen's involvement. I don't, however, expect to be picking it up for very long.