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CSBG Archive

A Year of Cool Comics – Day 168

Here is the latest in our year-long look at one cool comic (whether it be a self-contained work, an ongoing comic or a run on a long-running title that featured multiple creative teams on it over the years) a day (in no particular order whatsoever)! Here‘s the archive of the moments posted so far!

Today we take a difficult look (difficult because there’s so much coolness to fit into one piece) at Steve Gerber, Mary Skrenes and Jim Mooney’s brilliantly bizarre Omega the Unknown…

Enjoy!

Omega the Unknown was a particularly strange comic book because the comic was not about a traditional superhero, but rather it was about a strange twelve-year-old boy who had a mysterious connection to an alien being who was eventually dubbed “Omega the Unknown.”

Here is the introduction of them both…

Pretty cool way to kick off a comic, right?

Then we get to see James Michael Starling, the 12-year-old boy who is the main star of the comic…

Talk about a trippy opening!

James Michael ends up in a coma, and when he awakes he learns, for some reason, his nurse and her roommate are taking him in to live with them…

Then one of the creatures who attacked Omega in the beginning of the comic show up to attack James Michael…

So throughout the series, James Michael and Omega clearly have some connection, but we never learn what it is – nor do we learn why James Michael has such strange powers.

Gerber and Skrenes has James Michael enroll in public school where they explore the seedy side of public schooling…

It does not end well for most of the people involved…

Omega ends up working for a pawnbroker in New York City and gets a “real” name of “Sam”…a lot of the action comes from stuff that comes up while working for the pawnbroker. As you see here, often things don’t go well here, either…

Really, a lot of things don’t go well in this comic – there is a lot of sad stuff and when the book ends with #10, it ends with one of the more depressing cliffhangers you’ll see in comics (it somehow gets even MORE depressing when the story was eventually resolved in the pages of the Defenders).

There were a few fill-in issues by other writers and artists (including Roger Stern), but most of the issues were by Skrenes, Gerber and Mooney.

It was a good series, very different from any comic Marvel was publishing at the time – too strange to live, really.

11 Comments

Like lots of Gerber’s work, Omega was way ahead of it’s time. It’s more akin to something you’d see as a Vertigo series in today’s market. I absolutely loved it.

Most fans of this series tend to use the almost trite term “ahead of its time” when describing this series, but this is one of the few cases where the description truly fits. Even if the execution fell short at times, Gerber and Skrenes created a really sombre and thought-provoking series. It’s nothing short of tragic that they were never able to finish it the way they wanted at the time. I agree that the 2-issue denouement in the Defenders was depressing, and just … wrong. And the less said about that re-imagined mini-series by Lethem, the better.

nice was hoping Omega would make this list. even if it was a head of its time and Steve had to use the Defenders to finish it up . not to metion made the thing one of the most heart breaking and depressing comics ever.

Chad – Gerber didn’t wrap it up in Defenders. That was written by Ed J. Hannigan.

Edo Bosnar, why do you say the less said about the Lethem mini the better? I thought it was all kinds of great, but then again I hadn’t read the Gerber/Skrenes/Mooney content to compare it with.

Actually, Steven Grant wrote the Defenders stuff, and even he admitted it wasn’t his finest hour.

You know, I’ve started to submit this as a Comics Legends Revealed topic before but didn’t think it quite qualified since, well, there really aren’t any legends to reveal, at least as far as I know. The ending of the Lethem series is better than the original ending in the Defenders, neither of which I’ll spoil, but I’ve always wondered about Gerber and Skrenes’s original long term plans for the series. I can’t believe that they were actually thinking about a definite ending for it, considering that kind of thing wasn’t done back at the time, but it would be interesting to see where they might have gone if it hadn’t been canceled.

Unfortunately, Gerber passed away – far, far too young – but Mary Skrenes is still with us. Perhaps someone (possibly even our own Mr. Cronin?) could get in touch with her and find out?

Mike – you’re right about Grant writing it. I was thinking about Hannigan’s previous Foolkiller issue.

And I second the idea of a CBLR on the original plans for Omega.

The original plans for Omega are still a tightly held secret.
When Gerber was still alive, he was asked often, and refused to spill, saying that it belonged to Skrenes as much as him, and that while there was still the possibility that she might still want to use any of the ideas in some other project, he wouldn’t squander them on just blabbing the whole thing in an interview.
I don’t know if Skrenes has been asked since Gerber passed away, but I’ve seen nothing about her being willing to tell.
Perhaps she might not feel the need to save the concepts up any longer, maybe she still wants to hold on to them. Maybe someone could ask her to at least consider leaving the details in her will or something.
(And no, I don`t mean that in a flip or disrespectful way; better that than having the real ending forever lost when all those involved are no longer with us…)

The Lethem mini was awesome and very true to the original.

If they don’t want to share the whole story with the rest of us, we can’t be blamed for making up our own versions.

Are the 2 defenders issues included in the trade of this?

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