After the failed raid in Omega Men #1, the second issue of the fledgling title picks up as the Governor of the planet Ogyptu prepares for the Viceroy’s arrival. The meeting between the two men is short and to the point. Thirty-nine Citadel soldiers died in the raid on Ogyptu. Thirty-nine men died attempting to capture the Omega men. Thirty-nine men died in failure. And as recompense, the Citadel is demanding one hundred Ogyptu lives for every one of the thirty-nine soldiers. It’s a cruel price, but one that the Governor is willing to pay, after bargaining of course.
And as the Omega Men try to maneuver their way off the planet, their leader, Primus, meets with newly revived Kyle Rayner. Devoid of his power ring but not his will to save innocent lives, Rayner argues with Primus about their next course of action. Primus and the Omega Men wish to leave on their reacquired spaceship, while Kyle has a plan to save the citizens. Ever the pragmatist, Primus explains to Kyle that the former Green Lantern has an implant that will explode if he disobeys the wishes of the Omega Men. Primus contends that saving the citizens will only lead to further retaliation by the Citadel and that the best course of action is for the Omega Men to leave the planet while they can, drawing the fight elsewhere. And as the two men debate, time begins to run out for the innocents caught in the balance.
One of the great improvements Omega Men #2 makes over its predecessor is the focus on character, rather than action. Tom King’s script really highlights the moral pragmatism of the titular characters and the verbal spat between Primus and Kyle Rayner makes for an exciting, if haunting, read. The juxtaposition between the images of them arguing and the horrors being enacted on the planet Ogyptu and its population emphasizes the cost of their actions.
Barnaby Bagendra’s artwork really helps the tone of the book. There’s a gritty realism to the look of his characters, while the actual linework is clean and refined, as one would expect in a space adventure. This makes for a nice balance, allowing for the comic to have a war-time feel while still maintaining an operatic backdrop. Bagendra’s layouts are simple and elegant. The nine-panel boxes immediately evokes a Watchmen atmosphere, even if the content here is drastically different. The condensed panels allow for King to work in some nice dialogue bits, such as the open on the Governor as he rehearses his introduction to the Viceroy. This is a comic that gives the reader their money’s worth.
While making vast strides over issue one, Omega Men #2 is not without its flaws. The primary one being that, outside of Primus and the robotic Doc, the rest of the Omega Men are still paper-thin as characters. Hopefully as the series progresses, the team will become more fleshed out and balanced.
In addition, it would be nice to be given something that makes the Citadel unique from every other monolithic government in science fiction. Right now they are analogous to the Empire in Star Wars, with the Viceroy operating as a stand-in for Darth Vader. Tropes are fine to play with, but at some point, Omega Men is going to need to show readers why these particular iterations are worth investing in.
Providing deeper content than the previous issue, Omega Men #2 allows the series to take off. Tom King’s script allows for readers to better know Primus via his argument with Rayner, and this helps the reader understand the criminal group even if what they do is despicable. Barnaby Bagendra’s artwork is gorgeous in its design work and lines, but also in the way it makes this grimy universe come to life. The world of Omega Men is a beautiful, but broken one, and the Omega Men are merely trying to survive it as best they can.