After last month's nasty cliffhanger, I had high hopes for "The Omega Men" #4. This month, I'm happy to say that Tom King and guest artist Toby Cypress have met those hopes as we continue to see Kalista slowly build a web of manipulation even as we learn more about the Vega System and Kyle Rayner's presence.
For an issue that provides a lot of backstory, King's script feels remarkably engrossing. It's really divided into two segments: Kyle Rayner's story and Kalista's history of the Vega System. With Green Lanterns barred from the Vega System, it's nice to finally learn exactly why Kyle is there and how he was captured, as well as the location of his ring (which, ironically, may have saved him from the mysterious fate that recently befell most of the Green Lantern Corps). King delves into Kyle's psyche here, showing a surprising amount of guilt and self-doubt that builds on some of the earliest stories involving the character. It's a story that gives him some vulnerability, even as it becomes ripe for exploiting.
Ready to do just that sort of exploitation, Kalista plays her cards perfectly as she positions herself into a spot to be the one in need of saving. In the last issue, we saw that to some extent, but it's taken a step further here in a manner that is deftly played on her part. At the same time, we also learn more about the Vega System, both its different races as well as the planets that compose it. It's nice to finally learn just how many worlds there are (although I suppose moons could always be added in to supplement that count) and what's going on there. The geography nerd in me rejoiced, even as I found myself once again pleased that King was able to deliver exposition without grinding the pacing to a halt. Instead, it's engaging and fun, and all the while the trap continues to tighten around Kyle's neck.
Cypress steps in with some guest art, and I like it. It reminds me a lot of Marc Hempel's work on "Sandman" back in the day, very angular and iconic in places. Kalista manages to look mostly human while still just a little alien, vulnerable with a hard edge when necessary. He also does a good job with the montages here; the full-page spread of Kyle's history wouldn't have been half as effective as individual panels and, instead, Cypress lets all of the elements of Kyle's past flow into one another. As much as I've been loving the nine-panel grid that "The Omega Men" uses, using it only on the first and last pages actually works quite well here as the book temporarily steps away from its main narrative. Cypress is a smart choice to fill-in on "The Omega Men" and his art meshes well with Romulo Fajardo Jr's moody colors. I'd be happy to see his presence again before long.
"The Omega Men" #4 is just another example of why this is probably not just one of DC's best new series, but one of the best superhero (or at least superhero-esque) books on the market right now. "The Omega Men" #4 is intelligent, devious and determined to make you squirm. King and Cypress have made this an issue where, once again, you're dying for next month's new installment. Well done.