Seriously, there’s a kitchen sink involved.
“I asked Keith, ‘Since we’re putting so much in this final issue, can you add the kitchen sink?’ He stops and goes, ‘Yeah, I could do that.’ And sure enough, inside the book, you’ll find the kitchen sink,” says DiDio, O.M.A.C. writer and DC Comics co-publisher.
O.M.A.C. is one of six books from DC’s “The New 52” relaunch in the fall that will end with its eighth issue, but DiDio and Giffen have stuck with the same mind-set since issue 1: having a really energetic, quirky and readable comic like the ones they read as kids.
“When I talked to the colorist about the book, ” Giffen says, “I said, ‘Look, when you color this, I want the readers to hear calliope music in the background when they flip past the pages.’ “
O.M.A.C. issue 8 is the culmination of the battle between all-seeing super-computer Brother Eye and Max Lord, the malevolent head of Checkmate — with college kid Kevin Kho and his souped-up, mohawked, villain-clobberin’, blue alter-ego O.M.A.C. caught in the middle — as seen from Kevin’s point of view.
“Even amid all the fight scenes and the craziness, you’re getting a good hard dose of who Kevin Kho is. I thought it was a brilliant way to wrap up the book,” Giffen says.
The creators also are bringing back characters seen in the previous seven issues for “a nice rousing farewell,” says, joking that “Everybody dies!”
Giffen promises that’s not the case.
“O.M.A.C.‘s not about death,” the artist says. “Death has become cheap in comics lately. O.M.A.C. is about celebrating life in a real big bombastic, vibrant way. Just killing a character because it’s the last issue, that’s ridiculous.”
And it would be opposed to the ridiculous fun that the two have strived to put in O.M.A.C., including an adventure featuring talking animals, five pages of last-minute Superman action tossed in at the last minute by Giffen, and bold, Kirby-esque art — fitting since Jack Kirby first created the character in the 1970s.
In a two-page splash sequence in issue 5, there was a big honkin’ throwdown between O.M.A.C. (short for One-Machine Attack Construct) and Frankenstein with the only text in a corner editor’s note that told the reader “Add any sound effect you want.”
“It doesn’t always have to be doom and gloom and grim and gritty,” Giffen says. “You’re not writing a screenplay, you’re not writing a novel — you’re writing a comic book. And there’s nothing wrong with that.”
Adds DiDio: “I don’t think we ever had a real disagreement on anything in all the eight issues, which is weird because we can’t even agree to go to the same restaurant together without getting into it.”
The co-publisher was admittedly disappointed when he had to cancel his own book, since he and Giffen had planned out a year and a half of stories. Just to finish up the first arc in eight issues, they had to cut out a two-part origin story and a Doctor Scuba tale Giffen was dying to do.
“We both had favorites and since I get to be co-publisher, my favorite won out over Keith’s but don’t tell him that. I told him it wasn’t my decision,” DiDio quips.
They were floored by positive reviews, but O.M.A.C. just never had the sales numbers it needed to keep going. Giffen sums it up in cinematic terms: “We were the Merchant Ivory comic book — the critics love us but no one’s going to see us.”
One fact of life about introducing 52 books simultaneously is that some will succeed and others will fail, DiDio says. And O.M.A.C. always has been an underdog franchise — the first Kirby series in 1974 also was eight issues, and it was followed by a four- and another eight-issue miniseries .
“We knew we had an uphill battle right from the start, but hell, that’s what made it the most fun. Those are the books I’d rather work on, DiDio says.
There’s a great amount of freedom in doing a comic like that, Giffen adds. “We couldn’t have gotten away with half of what we got away with in O.M.A.C. in Superman. It’s just this unfettered creativity.
“This is the stuff I love best. You’re always going to have your Supermans, Batmans, Wonder Womans and Green Lanterns, but these are the corners that I think enrich the entire comics line and make comics fun.”
DiDio reminds that while DC will refresh its line of comics constantly, the characters in canceled books will remain part of the tapestry of the DC Universe in other ways. In fact, O.M.A.C. and Kevin Kho move to Justice League International starting with issue 8, also out Wednesday.
“The more people that touch the character, the more alive it becomes and the greater chance for it coming back grows,” DiDio says.
“Plus,” Giffen remarks, “there’s no greater compliment than to have a character out there that you’ve shepherded for a while that other people want to use.”
And don’t worry about Giffen and DiDio — they’ll be OK as well.
Giffen, the man responsible for Lobo and Ambush Bug and co-creator of the brilliant 1980s Justice League International, is one of the main forces on DC’s Superman series. DiDio is co-writing a Challengers of the Unknown story arc in DC Comics Presents, while continuing his day job as one of the comics company’s main men.
DiDio says that writing comics is his “relaxation and enjoyment,” and O.M.A.C. was one of the best experiences he’s had in his time at DC.
It gave him the chance to be just one of the guys in the trenches of creating comics, and Giffen, who was the first professional DiDio met when he came to DC more than 10 years ago, liked the fact that he never felt like he was dealing with his boss.
“Other projects, yeah, he’s my boss and you take that into account,” Giffen says. “But on O.M.A.C., he’s the guy doing the book with me who wants to have fun, too.”