Tuesday, August 2, 2011

OMAC: One Man Army

OMAC (Buddy Blank, the One-Man Army Corps) is a superhero comic book created in 1974 by Jack Kirby and published by DC Comics. The character was created towards the end of Kirby's contract with the publisher, following the cancellation of Kirby's New Gods, and was reportedly developed strictly due to Kirby needing to fill his contractual quota of 15 pages a week. As envisioned by Kirby, OMAC is essentially Captain America set in the future, an idea Kirby had toyed with some years earlier while on staff at Marvel Comics, but had never realized.

Set in the near future ("The World That's Coming"), OMAC is a corporate nobody named Buddy Blank who is changed via a "computer-hormonal operation done by remote control" by an A.I. satellite called Brother Eye into the super-powered One-Man Army Corps (OMAC).

OMAC works for the Global Peace Agency (GPA), a group of faceless people who police the entire world using pacifistic weapons. The world balance is too dangerous for large armies, so OMAC is used as the main field enforcement agent for the Global Peace Agency. The character initially becomes the Ares-like war machine to save a female coworker at the Pseudo-People factory (manufacturers of androids initially intended as companions, but later developed as assassins). The coworker is revealed to be in actuality a bomb, and Blank is left in the employ of the GPA, sacrificing his identity in their relentless war, with faux parents his only consolation and companions.

The original OMAC series lasted for eight issues (1974-1975), canceled before the last storyline was completed, with Kirby writing an abrupt ending to the series. Later, towards the end of Kamandi (after Kirby had left that title), OMAC was tied into the back-story and shown to be Kamandi's grandfather. An OMAC back-up feature by Jim Starlin was started in issue #59, but the title was cancelled after the first appearance. It would later finally see print in Warlord, and a new back-up series would also appear in that title (#37-39, 42-47). OMAC made appearances as a guest alongside Superman in DC Comics Presents #61.

In 1991 OMAC was featured in a four-issue prestige format limited series by writer/artist John Byrne that tied up loose ends left from previous stories. Byrne would later reuse OMAC in Superman & Batman: Generations 3, an Elseworlds mini-series.

In Countdown to Final Crisis, Buddy Blank is featured as a retired, balding professor with a blond-haired grandson. In #34, Buddy Blank is mentioned but not seen, and is referred to as having direct contact with Brother Eye. He is contacted by Karate Kid and Una in Countdown #31, and appears in #28 and 27. A version of Buddy from Earth-51 appears in #6 and #5 where the Morticoccus virus is released. The virus results in worldwide destruction. Buddy leaves his Project Cadmus laboratory job and assisted by Una, attempts to rescue his daughter and grandson. After spending some time moving through Metropolis, they find Buddy's family, only to be attacked by humanoid rats. Una and his daughter are both devoured, but not before one of them manages to toss the Legion flight ring. Buddy uses it to take his grandson to safety in a scientific facility called 'Command D' in Bl├╝dhaven. In the final issue Countdown to Final Crisis #1, Brother Eye rescues Buddy and his grandson from the bunker and from starvation by turning him into a prototype OMAC with free will. This entity resembles the original Jack Kirby OMAC.

Powers and Abilities:
Through interfacing with the Brother Eye satellite, via an invisible beam to his receiver belt, Buddy Blank is transformed into OMAC and imbued with an array of superhuman abilities. The base of abilities involve density control of Blank's body. An increase in density leads to superhuman strength and enhanced durability, while a decrease in density leads to flight and super-speed. Brother Eye could provide other abilities as well, such as self-repairing functions and energy generation.

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