Tom King and Barnaby Bagenda’s “The Omega Men” #10 brings the series closer to its conclusion with a massive battle on the planet Karna. However, even as the fight appears straightforward, the only certainty is that nothing is ever easy in the Vega System.
After all of the political machinations, double-crosses and character sacrifices, the prolonged siege on the planet Karna almost feels like a relief. King shows how the Citadel decided that Karna is the planet within the Vega System most likely to be conquered and converted into a desolate mine, and how the Omega Men and the planet’s cat-like inhabitants are ready to fight back against the robotic army.
Because this is “The Omega Men,” there is — of course — more than just a prolonged fight. We see Kyle Rayner’s descent as he starts to let go of the idea he is still a hero, and he uses his powers non-stop to try and save lives even as the body count grows relentlessly. We see the Citadel and the Viceroy in particular getting increasingly desperate to try and resume production of Stellarium. And, at the center of it all, Princess Kalista manipulates her way into being the victor that everyone loves, even as the rest are dragged down. This is a comic that brings the idea of fighting an army front and center and shows it for what it really is: a war where most people’s hands get dirty, even as those who remain squeaky clean continue to take the credit. King casts this idea into the world of “The Omega Men” and gives the reader a strong, swift upper cut as the Omega Men explain that by saving Karna, the entire Vega System will be in jeopardy because the Citadel has to come up with another way to produce Stellarium. There are, truly, no easy answers.
Bagenda’s art looks good here. He uses the nine-panel grid as a launching point once more, even though he knocks down panel borders when the script calls for it. Bagenda handles the wreckage of robots, aliens and humanoids alike as they pile up on Karna, and — though you can’t miss them — he keeps it from ever being overly gruesome. It’s not dripping with blood so much as atmosphere. One of the best parts of the art, though, comes at the near the end of the issue, where Kyle and Primus pass a drink back and forth. There’s a weariness that washes over both of their faces and, in that moment, Bagenda sells both the bond that’s grown between them — setting up Kyle’s “I’m just another Omega Man” at the end of the issue — as well as just how much this situation is beating our heroes down.
I hope to see King and Bagenda work together again shortly (with Trevor Hutchison on posters, because his travel advertisements for the various areas of the Vega System have been amazing), because I’m really going to miss “The Omega Men” when it wraps up in two months. This is a smart series that never takes the easy way out and rewards readers more and more each issue. As always, a job well done.