Collecting Countdown To Infinite Crisis, The OMAC Project #1–6, Wonder Woman #219 by Greg Rucka, Jesus Saiz and Cliff Richards
Rucka is a greater writer of espionage/political thrillers – you will know this if you’ve read Queen & Country – so I wanted to read this series, despite it being part of the build-up to Infinite Crisis. However, excellent though the writing and art are in this trade paperback, the book doesn’t work as a single piece of fiction; it is a disjointed narrative that doesn’t satisfy. The book is all prequel to Infinite Crisis and is also disrupted by the inclusion of a comic book from the middle of a crossover from other series (the Wonder Woman issue, written by Rucka, who was writing that series at the time, was part of another story with Superman and other books). This is a book with no end and everything included for completeness, even if it doesn’t feel like it shouldn’t be there.
The story that is told is done so in an enjoyable fashion – different time points in Ted Kord’s recent days, jumping back and forth to fill us in on details until the now infamous execution by Max Lord, head of Checkmate, after Ted has discovered the truth about what Lord is up to. Rucka has a good handle on Ted and his interaction with other superheroes, wishing he did it more often. The other character who is the centre of the story is Sasha Bordeaux (from Rucka’s days on Detective Comics), who is now Max’s Knight; Sasha is the viewpoint for the plot and the moral centre of the story. Max is controlling Brother I, created by Batman to monitor heroes after Identity Crisis, and Sasha is trying to make up for what he is doing without getting caught herself. Max uses his meta power to force people to do what he wants them to do, including the murder of the Checkmate royal family to become complete head of Checkmate.
The book is full of intrigue and provides a great view of the superhero world from the perspective of the low-level, non-powered character. Which means it’s a great shame that the ‘Sacrifice’ crossover interrupts the flow – Lord controls Superman, sending him crazy and violent – just so we can have a fight between Superman and Wonder Woman, and the crossover-starting incident of Wonder Woman murdering Max Lord. This sends Brother I into a new phase – the KINGISDEAD protocol – locking down Checkmate and activating the OMACs and turning Sasha into something else (not an OMAC but a nanobyte biological graft) to start the ANNHILATION protocol. This involves turning 1.3 million normal people into OMACs. Sasha and Batman formulate a plan, which gets the numbers down to 200,000 OMACs, but this makes Brother I show the footage of Wonder Woman killing Max to the world – and Infinite Crisis begins when this book is supposed to end. This is so frustrating – Rucka tries to provide a resolution by having our heroes affect a solution to the OMACs, with some fighting and sacrifice, but with the prequel nature of the book, it feels empty and ruins the enjoyment of a well-written book. The book is also well drawn – Saiz’s art is very good and is the perfect style for the mixture of the moody noir and superhero action. The heroes feel like real people in their spandex and the characters’ emotions are believable. Richards is a bit looser in style but he doesn’t distract in between Saiz’s work. It’s just a shame that all their hard work falls short because they can only lead into Infinite Crisis (and we know how that turned out).