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Omega The Unknown #1: Review

Mar 1976
Steve Gerber, Jim Mooney

Story Name:

Omega the Unknown

Review & Comments

4 stars

Omega The Unknown #1 Review by (November 8, 2023)

Review: So I’m going to spoil this little-known but decades-old series right at the beginning: OMEGA THE UNKNOWN was an experimental title conceived and written by Steve Gerber & Mary Skrenes which ran for ten issues in 1976 and '77. It centered on two mysteries: The first was Omega, a powerful, mute hero who escapes from a war-torn world in a stolen spacecraft and comes to Earth. The second mystery was James-Michael Starling, a twelve-year-old genius, plagued by nightmares about Omega and who feels the pain when the hero is injured, a boy raised in isolation and who only discovered that his parents were robots when they were "killed" in a car crash. So as James-Michael tried to fit into a Hell's Kitchen school as an ordinary boy and Omega wandered the streets of New York City battling crime and protecting James-Michael, they (and the readers) tried to understand the mysterious link between them. The title was a poor seller, possibly because it was too odd for most readers. Gerber and Skrenes concluded it with Omega being mistakenly shot by police at the end of issue ten, without resolving any of the mysteries. The story was concluded in THE DEFENDERS #76 & 77 (in 1979).

How do they do? Well, what they show us is fairly easy to follow: an alien hero comes to Earth. He has a psychic link with an odd boy. Questions are raised. The narration is somewhat elliptical, especially when describing Omega’s internal monologue.  Not sure why readers couldn’t get into it as it’s pretty cool. But then I’m reading it again after nearly half a century so I’ve matured a bit in my reading comprehension. More to come.

Comments: “Conceived and written by Steve Gerber and Mary Skrenes.” Includes an essay by Steve Gerber on how Omega was created. First appearances of Omega and James-Michael Starling, Amber Grant, and Dr. Thomas Barrow. Ruth Hart previously appeared in MAN-THING #2-7, 11. The killer robots are called the Protar though I don’t think that name appears in any of the comics. The planet Omega comes from is named Srenesk, which is an anagram of Skrenes, after co-creator Mary Skrenes.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Omega The Unknown #1 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro

A caped hero, unable to understand what is going wrong, battles and destroys an army of robots out to kill him. His weapon is energy blasts he can fire from the omega-shaped marks on the palms of his hands. Spent, he falls to his knees and a robot shoots him in the back…

…and an Earth boy named James-Michael Starling wakes up with a scream. His parents come in, asking if he can remember the dream but it is gone. His parents, who have raised him in isolation to the age of twelve, now want him to go to school in the city, to learn how to interact with other children. James-Michael is reluctant. The next morning, as they are driving to New York, they collide with a truck on a mountain road and their car plunges off a cliff. When James-Michael recovers consciousness, he learns his parents were robots when he sees his mother’s disconnected head, telling him not to listen to “the voices,” before dissolving. He goes into shock, seeing his rescuers as monsters and his mind shuts down….

Omega is shackled to a wall, forced to watch the destruction of his world. He breaks his bonds and runs, the robots in pursuit. He fights his way to a small spaceship and takes off, not looking back….

James-Michael awakens in a hospital, in restraints because he was thrashing in his sleep. Nurse Ruth Hart calls Dr. Thomas Barrow, who is stunned at the boy’s adult vocabulary and analytical manner of speech. He is very curious about James-Michael and reveals that he has been there for a month. Outside the room, the doctor tells Ruth that the hospital board no longer wants to keep him on as a charity patent; he asks Ruth to find out more about the boy, hoping to find something to justify keeping him on….

So, Ruth hangs around with James-Michael but he doesn’t open up to her, which disappoints Dr. Barrow, which doesn’t sway the board so the only other option is: Dr. Barrow pays Ruth to have James-Michael come live with her and her roommate, freelance photographer Amber Grant.    

Amber drops by the clinic and encounters James-Michael who is intrigued by her confident manner and casual use of slang so that he agrees to move in….

That night, as James-Michael tries to go to sleep at the clinic, a robot assassin crashes through the window and  scans the boy, noting he is the correct target though his proportions are smaller. Then Omega comes through the window and fights the robot. The robot corners the hero at gunpoint but James-Michael instinctively raises his hands and energy beams shoot out of his palms, destroying the robot. He recognizes Omega as the figure from his dreams; the hero smiles, picks up the robot’s carcass and departs. Dr. Barrow, awakened by the sound of the fight, comes in and, seeing the marks on JM’s hands in the form of the Greek letter omega, accuses the boy of having tired to harm himself…  

Jim Mooney
Jim Mooney
Petra Goldberg
Ed Hannigan (Cover Penciler)
Joe Sinnott (Cover Inker)
? (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: John Costanza.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Plus: Amber Grant (Amber Douglas), Ruth Hart.

> Omega The Unknown: Book info and issue index

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