Omac getting around in a characteristic way. Artist: Jack Kirby.


Medium: Comic books
Published by: DC Comics
First Appeared: 1974
Creator: Jack Kirby
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Omac was created by Jack Kirby, the comics grandmaster whose resumé includes Captain America, The Fantastic Four, the entire concept of using the romance genre in comic books, and much, much more. But he doesn't occupy a very high spot in the pantheon of Kirby's stellar creations. In fact, according to …

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… reports, Omac was just something Kirby slapped together to fulfill his contract with DC Comics, where he'd recently been responsible for The New Gods, The Demon and several other creations. Also, he occupied an out-ot-the-way niche in the DC Universe, a near-future world that was headed for a Great Disaster that included, but was not limited to, a nuclear war. Several DC series, including Hercules Unbound and The Barren Earth, took place in the alternate future of The Great Disaster, but they're not exactly part of the DC Mainstream.

In "The World That's Coming" to quote the promotional description of Omac's scenario, Buddy Blank was a bureaucratic drone, working for The Global Peace Agency, which used non-lethal weapons to police the world. It was run by Brother Eye, an artificial intelligence unit installed in a satellite. Brother Eye zapped Buddy with remote-control "hormonal surgery", turning him into the One Man Army Corps, usually known by the acronym "Omac". The transformation not only turned Buddy into a muscular powerhouse, but left him with a mohawk hairdo even bigger than Adam Strange's or Starman's helmet fin.

Buddy was turned into a superhero in Omac #1, dated October, 1974. The series didn't enjoy immediate commercial success, but that was true of most of Kirby's 1970s creations for DC. This one lasted eight issues, ending with a cover date of December, 1975. Typically, it didn't even complete its final story, but had to be wrapped up in a hurry.

In the 50th issue (May, 1977) of Kamandi, The Last Boy on Earth, it was posited that Kamandi, also a Kirby creation set in the post-Great Disaster world, was Omac's grandson. Nine issues later, a series starring Grandpa Omac, by cartoonist Jim Starlin (Captain Marvel, Warlock) began in the back pages. But that was the final issue of Kamandi. The series was continued in Warlord #37 (February, 1981), but it lasted less than a year. Omac also had a crossover with Superman in 1983. The loose ends from his various appearances were tied up in a 1991 mini-series by John Byrne (X-Men, Alpha Flight).

In the first Great Disaster series, The Atomic Knights, it was established that the nuclear exchange forming part of that disaster had taken place in 1986, a quarter-century in readers' futures at the time. But as that date approached and then receded into the past, it became harder to set a series in that world. The Great Disaster scenario was de-emphasized and finally forgotten. But at the same time, things like Brother Eye came to be plausible in a real-world setting.

In 2005, the OMAC Ptoject became part of the mainstream DC Universe, Variations on the acronym, including "Observational Meta-Human Activity Construct", "Outerworld Monitor and Auto Containment" and others that make no more sense than T.H.U.N.D.E.R. and S.H.I.E.L.D. have been used in various media. There have even been a couple of OWAC, standing for "One Woman Army Corps", versions.

In animation, he was voiced by Jeff Benett (Johnny Bravo, Duke L'Orange) when Batman met something resembling the original Omac.

Whatever his form, Omac proves the power of Kirby's imagination. Tho he was only a very minor Kirby creation, he's enlarged his role by becoming an established part of the backdrop against which DC characters play out their stories, wherever those characters are found.


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Text ©2009 Donald D. Markstein. Art © DC Comics.