OMAC (Post-Flashpoint) is an instance of the OMAC character archetype.
The name OMAC has a long and convoluted history in the DC Universe. It was one of the last things Jack Kirby created during his 1970s tenure at DC Comics. The Fourth World comics had been cancelled and Kirby needed a small property to complete his contractual obligations to DC. His answer was OMAC, a man in the near-future called Buddy Blank who is transformed into a peacekeeping agent called the One-Man Army Corps (OMAC) by the Brother Eye satellite for the Global Peace Agency. The first series only ran for eight issues and Buddy Blank’s story would be completed in fits and starts over the next thirty years.
The concept featured heavily in the six-part The OMAC Project (2005) mini-series written by Greg Rucka. In this version Brother Eye was created by the Batman, but reprogrammed by Maxwell Lord and a parallel universe version of Lex Luthor. This more sinister version of Brother Eye was in command of an entire legion of OMACs, super-warrior puppets created out of innocent people by a nanite virus. A follow-up series by Bruce Jones featured a single OMAC that was using Michael Costner, a petty thief from Gotham City, as its host.
DC Comics surprised a lot of people when they announced that a new OMAC title would be part of the starting line-up for their 2010 New 52 relaunch of the DC Universe. OMAC had long been a favourite of DC publisher Dan Didio so wrote the title himself along with co-writer and artist Keith Giffen. Their new OMAC had a different host again, a Cambodian refugee called Kevin Kho. Didio told Comic Book Resources that:
The character of Kevin really fits within the concepts and the ideas of the story. It’s really about a person who lives his life under a lot of control and is used to being able to have things in a very orderly fashion. Enter into his life “OMAC” and the events that occur, and basically, he loses control of his own life. A lot of the story is about his struggle to regain control, to re-establish himself as an individual again, as other events are pressing against him.
The series was big, bold and attracted many positive reviews. In introduced an entire slew of Kirby concepts including much of the Cadmus mythology, allusions to the events in Justice League #1-6, the first appearance of a member of the Female Furies, and set up the mystery of Brother Eye’s own origin. However, OMAC did not find commercial success and was cancelled with the eighth issue, equalling Jack Kirby’s original run. The final explosive issue saw Brother eye seemingly put out of commission and Kevin Kho trapped in his OMAC body. Didio described the book to USA Today,
“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.
The character continued to appear in the remaining 4-issues of Justice League International before that series was also cancelled. A special JLI Annual written by Didio and Geoff Johns concluded the first phase of Kevin Kho’s history and set-up the status of a more aggressive Brother Eye.
Kevin Kho’s adult life was shaped by the traumatic events of his childhood. Kevin was the son of Cambodian peasants who had spoken out against a rebel warlord. The warlord retaliated by burning Kho’s village and pursued the family into the jungle. Kevin would later reflect that his earliest memory was of “being pulled through the Cambodian jungle, my parents trying to keep me calm. I kept asking what happened to my sisters Kim and Kira, but they wouldn’t answer”. His parents were killed shortly afterwards and Kevin spent the rest of his childhood being passed between various relatives.
Kevin tried to deal with his trauma by withdrawing from normal life, by refusing to deal with it. However, his depression finally reached the point where he was forced to either take control of his life – to tear it down and rebuilt it – or finally give up on it entirely. The way that Kevin survived was to impose his own sense of order on his life, even if it was only in the smallest details — everything in his apartment had a specific place and his work desk was always immaculately tidy. His compulsion with these details bordered on the obsessive, but he found exercise cathartic and empowering. Kevin also found that he was more comfortable around computers than other people (they were controlled, orderly).
By taking control of his life Kevin managed to push himself through school and eventually through university where he graduated with a degree is biology. Somewhere along the line Kevin relocated from Cambodia to the United States. (He may be a naturalised citizen, but we don’t know.) Kevin eventually found a found a job at Cadmus Industries, a laboratory what had come from nowhere to become the world’s leading biotechnology and genetics research corporation in just five years. His job gave Kevin the stability he craved, but it also gave him love in the form of his co-worker Jody Robbins. Jody and Kevin were engaged and he finally believed this his life was working out (O.M.A.C. #8 (June 2012)).
Unknown to Kevin, Cadmus hid secrets like a set of matryoshka dolls. The above ground facilities Kevin worked for in Metropolis accounted for 90% of their employees, but it fact concealed the “real” Cadmus Project which was buried in a set of vast underground laboratories hidden beneath the surface facility. The Cadmus Project was run by an alien looking man called Mokkari. Its principal backer was Checkmate, the UN funded global peace agency, and its “King” Maxwell Lord. However, unknown to Lord Mokkari’s real superior was a shadowy figure he knew referred to as the “Grand Director” (implied to be Desaad of Apokolips). None of this was known to Kevin Kho, Jody Robbins, or their best friend and manager Tony Jay. However, actions within Checkmate would have a devastating impact on their lives.
A lot of the details were only every alluded to.Â It appears that Cadmus was founded by Checkmate and/or the Grand Director after the Justice League’s defeat of the Apokolips Invasion. Part of their remit was to study “Genesis” technology and they appear to have been in possession of a left over Mother Box. Around the same time Batman created a sentient satellite called Brother Eye (he may have been helped by Mister Terrific). It included or was later refitted to include Genesis technology. After its creation Brother Eye was seized by Checkmate and reprogrammed. The now fully sentient Brother Eye escaped from Maxwell Lord and Checkmate’s control and hid itself in a small asteroid field near the Earth.
Brother Eye’s own motivations remain vague. It has sought out new sources of information and neutralised forces it considers a threat to itself, but has otherwise claimed to be trying to make the world a better place. Nevertheless, in Checkmate’s eyes it is a rogue artificial intelligence and must be recaptured. It is ironic then that for Brother Eye to gain control over its existence it had to force Kevin Kho, the man obsessed with controlling his own life, to lose control of his body and destiny.
Brother Eye inflected Kevin with a nanite-virus which upon activation with the codeword “omactivate” would transform him into “O.M.A.C., One Machine Attack Construct, the perfect blending of biology and technology” (O.M.A.C. #2 (Dec 2011)). The OMAC giant possessed a strength to rival Superman and a straight-line, obsessive personality that made it virtually unstoppable. Its own intelligence was limited, but Brother Eye was constantly whispering to OMAC – directing it, cajoling it, even punishing it. And in extreme circumstances Brother Eye could broadcast even more power to OMAC causing a temporarily flare in its strength.
OMAC Versus Checkmate
Kevin had stepped away from his desk to go to the bathroom when Brother Eye first activated OMAC. Under Brother Eye’s direction OMAC ripped its way into Cadmus, past the telepath Dubbilex, destroyed the Build-a-Friend bodyguard of Cadmus director Lord Mokkari, and plunged its hands physically into the Cadmus Mainframe. That created a conduit through which Brother Eye could download the entire Cadmus database. Its task finished, Brother Eye teleported OMAC hundreds of mile away and returned Kevin’s body to him. Kevin had no memory of his time as OMAC, but Brother Eye spoke to him through his cellphone telling him that “What I want is your complete attention and for you to understand that your life is now mine.” (O.M.A.C. #1 (Nov 2011)).
Kevin tried to refuse Brother Eye’s whims and discarded his cellphone. However, Brother Eye remained in control – talking to Kevin through ATMs, ipods, TVs and directing towards Bonn Rocker (alias the Amazing Man), a former Checkmate agent who had been augmented by Cadmus before going rogue. A confrontation between OMAC and Rocker was manufactured so that Brother Eye could capture Rocker (O.M.A.C. #2 (Dec 2011)). Brother Eye next used a fake homeland security alert to get Kevin sent to the same prison as Professor Arous, the Psi-Fi Man. Brother Eye sought to limit the grown in Arous’s power, but the Checkmate Elite and their leader Sergeant Steel caught up with him at the Prison. Checkmate’s intervention allowed Arous to escape so Brother Eye relented and finally teleported Kevin back to his home in Metropolis (O.M.A.C. #3 (Jan 2012)).
Even through a normal person would have found it impossible to tell that Checkmate agents have been through his house, Kevin still felt the need to minutely rearrange everything that they thought they had put back correctly. Brother Eye protested that he wanted what was best for Kevin, but warned him off from telling his girlfriend Jody about OMAC. Not being able to be honest with Jody or anybody else threatened his job at Cadmus and his relationship with Jody. Kevin tried to reassert some control of his life by commuting on the subway, outside of Brother Eye’s signal range, by Mokkari’s bio-gators tracked Kevin down and almost killed him. He only able to save himself by running until he found a clear line of communication to Brother Eye through which he could summon OMAC (O.M.A.C. #4 (Feb 2012)).
The failure of Mokarri’s bio-gators caused Maxwell Lord to turn to another agency, S.H.A.D.E., and their field agent Frankenstein (the real monster from the novel). As Frankenstein put it “sent a monster to catch a monster”. Kevin was trying to cope with the pressure from his disintegrating work and social life when a consultant called Leilani Lugo at Cadmus began pressurizing him. Brother Eye then used OMAC’s battle with Frankenstein as a distraction while it attempted to gain access to S.H.A.D.E-NET, that agency’s secure database. Brother Eye’s incursion was stopped by Ray Palmer’s security programmes, but this was Father Time’s own reason for allowing SHADE to work with Checkmate. The incursion allowed SHADE to do its own run down and scan of Brother Eye during his incursion into their information systems (O.M.A.C. #5, Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #5 (March 2012)).
In his free time Kevin Kho began his own internet research into Cadmus and Brother Eye’s origin, he unearthed connections to the Batman, STAR Labs, the Mother Box Batman and Green Lantern found in Gotham City before the Justice League was formed, and even the missing hero and master scientist Mister Terrific. Against his better judgement Kevin agreed to set a double-date between himself, Jody, Tony, and Leilani, the consultant who had pressurised Kevin for results. However, at the restaurant it was revealed that “Leilani” was Sweet Leilani a member of Granny Goodness’s Furies sent to Earth to seek the Mother Box. Kevin/OMAC fought her off while Jody and Tony escaped the restaurant unscathed, Jody was increasingly worried about Kevin’s secretiveness (O.M.A.C. #6 (Apr 2012)).
Brother Eye eventually made the mistake of trying to assassinate Maxwell Lord which turned their battle personal with Kevin/OMAC caught in the middle(O.M.A.C. #6 (Apr 2012)). Checkmate recruited Superman to attack OMAC. They strength was matched, but damage from Superman’s heat vision forced Brother Eye to teleport OMAC/Kevin to safety. As always Brother Eye had an ulterior motive for where it sent Kevin. He found himself in a zoo near Toledo that concealed a facility run by Simyan, the chimp-like brother of Mokkari. Simyam was working to create sentient, humanoid slave species out of normal zoo animals. OMAC befriended Prince Tuftan, a humanoid tiger, was had been forced to kill his own mind-controlled father. For once Brother Eye and OMAC were in-agreement that the Simyan’s “Evil Factory” was an abomination and the destroyed it utterly. Prince Tuftan and his band then left to search for others of their kind (O.M.A.C. #7 (May 2012)).
OMAC with Kevin’s mind
Checkmate’s constant harryment of OMAC and Brother Eye finally came to ahead when Brother Eye sent OMAC to attack Checkmate’s Mount Rushmore headquarters. OMAC scattered the Checkmate Elite so Maxwell Lord made Mokkari send a massive creature from Cadmus as the next wave of defence (an action that caused Mokkari to declare his obligation to Lord complete). Sarge Steel was the last to stand at Checkmate HQ, but his confrontation with OMAC caused him to lose his hand. Brother Eye then allowed Kevin to retreat to his home, but the surviving Checkmate agents followed him. Jody was waiting for Kevin and he it was finally time to show her the truth about his transformation into OMAC. He won the fight against Checkmate, but Brother Eye was loosing its own fight against them.
Maxwell Lord’s programmers had located Brother Eye’s orbit and had sent bombs against it which magnetised its hull. The magnetic field caused the space junk around Brother Eye to accumulate around it. As Brother Eye its last action before it was buried was to return Kevin’s free. However, it neglected to undo Kevin’s OMAC transformation. Jody told Kevin that she still loved him, but he push her away saying that Kevin Kho no longer existed, now he was just the monster OMAC (O.M.A.C. #8 (June 2012)).
Powers and Abilities
Kevin Kho is a perfectly normal young-man with little or no combat prowess. The single unique things about him is that he has been infected by a nanite virus based upon “Genesis” technology that perfectly blends technology and biology. Upon activation via the codeword “omactivate” the virus transforms Kevin into a blue-skinned giant called OMAC. It can match the strength of a kryptonian for a time and is highly resistant to injury, but it not invulnerable and can be hurt with sufficient force.
Kevin is not normally in control of OMAC. Its basic personality is uncivilised and brutal and normally requires constant guidance from the sentient Brother Eye satellite. Brother Eye also has the ability to use OMAC as a conduit — downloading data and matter through it or uploading extra-energy surges in times of stress. Brother Eye also has the ability to instantlyÂ “blink”, to teleport, OMAC anywhere in the world. With Brother Eye’s disappearance, Kevin is lock inside his OMAC form. He retains a version of his own personality, but has no access to Brother Eyes more advanced capabilities (the teleportation and energy downloads).