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Author Topic: Steve Gerber's OMEGA: THE UNKNOWN revival?  (Read 4745 times)
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JulianPerez
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« on: July 06, 2006, 10:42:03 AM »

Confession time: as much as I loved Steve Gerber's HOWARD THE DUCK, MAN-THING and DEFENDERS and all the other things that justly made him famous, and established him as second only to Stainless Steve Englehart in terms of quality writing, the thing that really won me over as a Gerber disciple was OMEGA THE UNKNOWN, which he did with Jim Mooney and Mary Skrenes.

(And certainly the awesomeness of THUNDARR THE BARBARIAN, with Evanier and Pasko didn't exactly kill my enthusiasm for Gerber's work).

It's become cliche to call a work "ahead of its time," but this is seriously true of this work, which featured an offbeat, eccentric robot hero from space that did not speak for his entire several issue run, which was depressed, quiet and introspective. Steve Gerber always reminded me most of an alternate-universe Phillip K. Dick if instead of science fiction he wrote fantasy, and this is certainly true of OMEGA: it was so depressing I vowed never to read anything else by him again. And of course since then, I've read every Phillip K. Dick book out there! OMEGA THE UNKNOWN was the TWIN PEAKS or DONNIE DARKO of comics: it was what a comic book by David Lynch would look like; so many things went unsolved or unexplained, but it didn't matter because you were caught up in it all.

So, imagine my great surprise to hear that somebody is reviving Omega the Unkown, and it's none other than novelist Jonathan Lethem:

http://www.newsarama.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=32944

At first, this is not heartening news: after all, Gerber actually never really got to answer questions about the mystery of Omega's true nature and the bizarre relationship with his "alter-ego" James Starling. Gerber is one of those creators, like Kirby, whose creations are intimately associated with his vision. I was nervous about somebody as great as Neil Gaiman coming on ETERNALS; Kirby and Gerber's stuff only seem to work when they're behind it.

However, the writer is an established genius. And hey, at least it means a reissue of the original series in Trade is not far behind, right?

And also, there's the remote chance that this series might actually be pretty good. Stay Tuned![/url]
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« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2006, 11:57:15 PM »

This has certainly been widely discussed with the consensus being that it is a bad idea, and I have to admit I can't see the purpose.

I have enjoyed several of Lethem's books now and agree that he is a genius but I have to ask, "Why not Steve Gerber on Omega?"

I'm sure it will be well-written, but I would much rather see him do something original, even with superheroes.  I like the comparison of Gerber with Dick, but neither writer is really in the same league, at least in terms of influence and even weirdness, as Dick.

Ditto with Gaiman on Eternals (although it has to be better than any Etaernals stroy since Kirby).
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JulianPerez
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« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2006, 08:04:08 AM »

Well, I don't think it's a BAD idea, but it is an interesting one, nonetheless.

Best case scenario would be Gerber returning to OMEGA, which is really, his baby, and the book was one that, like Kirby's Fourth World stuff, had a perspective that only the original creator really "got." I'm not dismissing the possibility of Letham, for two reasns:

1) The kid can write;

2) Of all the series a big-name mook like him could write, he picks OMEGA? That's one weird place for an 800 pound gorilla to sit. Unless of course, he really, really LIKES the series, and that's a very good sign.

During one of my correspondences with Marty Pasko, he explained to me that part of the reason that old school guys like him have trouble getting work in comics is because no matter how many edgy and state of the art proposals they pitch, they're still perceived as being "old fashoined."

This view, incidentally, is demolished by GARGOYLES, a very "hip" show featuring a wonderfully modern aesthetic (no surprise it came out more or less the same year as the very contemporary Gaiman SANDMAN) which nonetheless had old school guys like Len Wein and Cary Bates among the writing staff, making the show the incredible achievement that it was. To this day, I'm astonished in the lazy world of TV that a show this smart ever got made at all - and it's no surprise top-notch guys like Wein and Bates were in the writing chair.

It's wonderful to see Don MacGregor thriving in the independents market, though. His Zorro books have been a real treat!

And best of all, we've got MacGregor's ASTRO CITY or FANTASTIC FOUR, the extraordinary KILLRAVEN, reprinted in ESSENTIAL form!

I don't think it's fair to have Gerber suffer in the comparison between him and Phillip K. Dick. Though to be honest, I can't think of a single story written by Gerber that features the earth being totally destroyed in the first few pages, and I can think of at least three by Dick!

(Though humorously, I can think of one by Englehart in DR. STRANGE!)

Quote from: "TELLE"
Ditto with Gaiman on Eternals (although it has to be better than any Etaernals stroy since Kirby).


I don't know if I agree with that, since all we've seen is one issue. Some of the Roy Thomas THOR arcs featuring the Eternals were extraordinary.

Though the John Romita, Jr. art looks extraordinary so far. The image of the Celestial's hand with a brotosaur dwarfed inside it was a jaw-dropper.

Ditto for Sersi's beauty mole. For some reason, it looks so...RIGHT. I love Kirby, but he had problems with figure drawing; this may be the first time, except in the pencils of "Big John" Buscema, where Sersi looks like the sexpot she ought to be.
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« Reply #3 on: July 22, 2006, 12:38:39 AM »

Yeah, I shouldn't jump to conclusions about Gaiman's Eternals --I looked at a few issues of his 1492 or whatever and hated the art.  Everyone liked Sandman but I didn't read it so can't say.  The one or 2 fantasy novels I've read seemed formulaic.

That statement about Sersi looking like she should (as opposed to the way her creator drew her) is interesting.  I enjoy both the Buscemas (arguably indebted to Kirby in many ways) and will have to check out the Thors you mention (some of which I'm sure I read as an 8-year old --wasn't there an issue where they meet the Greek Gods and have a big fight?).

As my presence on this board attests, I agree that those "old fashioned" writers should get more comics work if they want/need it.  But wasn't Gargoyles a crappy kids cartoon?  I mean, some of those guys also wrote for GI Joe, etc.  Not great art like the Superman comics of the 1950s and 60s.  Cheesy
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« Reply #4 on: July 22, 2006, 12:50:57 AM »

Gerber's Omega was fantastic.  The big shame is that he didn't have a chance to answer the questions he raised himself.

The conclusion in the Defenders was a total waste of time.  If things had gone as intended, Gerber would have finished the saga in Defenders himself.
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JulianPerez
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« Reply #5 on: July 28, 2006, 05:29:23 PM »

Quote from: "TELLE"
Yeah, I shouldn't jump to conclusions about Gaiman's Eternals --I looked at a few issues of his 1492 or whatever and hated the art.  Everyone liked Sandman but I didn't read it so can't say.  The one or 2 fantasy novels I've read seemed formulaic.


Like most everyone else in the universe, I've read AMERICAN GODS, which is overall a fun book but one that can be "called." The moment that Wednesday is revealed to be a god of death, suddenly the entire ending reveals itself. It's not typical of Gaiman's better stuff at all.

Quote from: "TELLE"
That statement about Sersi looking like she should (as opposed to the way her creator drew her) is interesting.


Kirby wasn't good at drawing good looking women.

Quote from: "TELLE"
I enjoy both the Buscemas (arguably indebted to Kirby in many ways) and will have to check out the Thors you mention (some of which I'm sure I read as an 8-year old --wasn't there an issue where they meet the Greek Gods and have a big fight?).


I think so, yeah. Roy the Boy does his best to slip these guys into the MU proper, which is a bad idea but considering how he did it, not a half-assed one. The most interesting is one where Thor wrassles Karkas (arguably the most interesting Eternal) and that other normal looking guy...my personal favorite of the ETERNALS supporting cast, who have a wonderful dynamic under Roy the Boy.

Quote from: "TELLE"
As my presence on this board attests, I agree that those "old fashioned" writers should get more comics work if they want/need it.


Me too - these guys have talent, and they certainly can be state-of-the-art if they set about doing it. Chris Claremont, as much as I love his IRON FIST, still writes more or less identical to his heyday. If you look at something like Cary Bates's SUPERMAN, and Cary Bates's CAPTAIN ATOM reboot, there's a big difference in terms of aesthetic and style.

Quote from: "TELLE"
But wasn't Gargoyles a crappy kids cartoon?


It was a children's cartoon, but not a childish one.

GARGOYLES was a show so SMART, so intelligent, so totally original, that I sometimes wonder how it ever got made at all in the lazy, play it safe world of television. The show featured THE MacBeth as a millionaire industrialist. A race of Guatemalan Gargoyles, and it alternates between episodes involving the criminal underworld and episodes about Titania and Oberon attacking Manhattan. It has everything you could ever want: an Archmage, a secret island ruled by the intelligent descendant of the Minotaur, and gangsters with hovercrafts.

GARGOYLES suceeded in many ways, what BABYLON 5 tried to do: be a show that rewards a long term viewer with a single, central story. GARGOYLES is the sort of show where no small detail is ultimately unimportant: when the Eye of Odin is introduced as a MacGuffin, it was only a few episodes later that Odin himself appears, looking for his eye...

Do yourself a favor and get the first season DVD. They're cheap - under $20. Cary Bates's episodes are among the best: it was he that introduced the Guatemalan Gargoyles and the idea of the secret conspiracy of the Illuminati.

Avoid the last season entirely, that's when the show jumped the shark and the original creator was distanced from his work by ABC. It's absolutely mouth-watering to hear some of the ideas he had for his last work: the idea of the leader of the Illuminati being revealed at last to be Parzifal, for instance, still alive thanks to his Grail-granted longevity.
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