The OMAC Project #1
Written by Greg Rucka
Illustrated by Jesus Saiz
Colors by HiFi Design
Letters by Phil Balsman
Out of pure morbid curiosity, I decided to check out the first issues of DC's four "Infinite Crisis" tie-ins. They gave me a lot to think about, and over the next few days I'll be sharing these thoughts with you. First up is The OMAC Project #1. This is one of the stronger "Infinite Crisis" tie-ins — and it's still not any good.
The story picks up right where DC Countdown to Infinite Crisis #1 left off, with Max Lord standing over the still-warm body of the Blue Beetle. It turns out that Max has taken over some super-secret paramilitary organization and hijacked some super-secret spy satellite built by Batman. Unfortunately, he's made the mistake of employing one of Batman's old girlfriends, who rats on him.
One of the problems with this issue is that too much goes unsaid. I have no idea who any of the characters are, what motivates them, or what they're trying to do. Consider Sasha Bordeaux. I vaguely recall that she used to be Batman's girlfriend, but other than that I couldn't tell you a single thing about her. She seems to be working for an organization named Checkmate, but I have no idea what she does for them. Playing up any one of these aspects could have made for a stronger story, with an easier hook for readers to latch on to. Instead, we're given four pages of Batman trying to figure out why his computer isn't working. Now that's excitement!
What really kills this issue, though, is the lackluster art of Jesus Saiz. Here's a page chosen at random...
It's hard to imagine a less interesting page. The overall page composition is muddied and unclear. The individual panel compositions are very simplistic, balanced compositions with centrally-located focal points. Each panel is a discrete unit, and no attempt is made to direct your eye from one panel to the next. The figures are stiff, only lightly foreshortened, and viewed either head-on or in near-profile. There are no real backgrounds, and the colorist makes no attempt to compensate with atmospheric effects. Even the word balloons are poorly placed, clustered in odd locations that direct the eye away from where you want it to go.
Adding some visual interest to this page is easy. In the first panel, add some extreme foreshortening to the figures, tilt them at an angle to make things seem more dynamic, and add some blurred buildings in the background to give the impression that they're really moving. Make sure that Wonder Woman's flight arc looks like it will loop around and down through the next two panels. In the second panel, push Wonder Woman's head in front of Booster's to push the composition a bit off-center, and change the position of Booster's shoulder so that it slopes down towards the right side of Wonder Woman's head in the third panel. In the third panel, play up the melodrama — at the moment, the emotions are way too subdued — and zoom in on Booster's face to play up his anguish. Change the fourth, fifth, and sixth panels to a series of horizontal slats which zoom ever-closer in on Wonder Wman's face. Add some more atmospheric effects to give the illusion of motion, and really play up the digial effects in the final panel to make it clear that they're being watched.
Would that resulting page be any good? No, not really — but it would be better than what's up there right now, and with only minimal changes.