Tom King, Barnaby Bagenda, Ig Guara and Romulo Fajardo Jr. show us what post-captivity life is like for Kyle Rayner and Princess Kalista, who are on the run in “The Omega Men” #7. However, if you’ve read any issue of “The Omega Men” up until now, you know nothing is ever that simple. The end result is a great first piece of the second half of this series’ story.
Even just as a simple “trying to survive” story, there’s a lot to recommend in “The Omega Men” #7. Set a month after the catastrophic conclusion to issue #6, this new chapter has the prisoner and decoy-prisoner on the run from the authorities, even as they do whatever’s needed to survive. King makes this story instantly appealing, showing the duo in action to give them a real chemistry as they work together. Being in bed together — or merely under the covers — before dispatching those hunting them, the two work together efficiently and effectively. At the same time, King never fails to let the reader see what’s really going on. Kalista’s manipulation of Kyle is ongoing, as she hides her true nature by making up excuses to slip away (like “leaving the tip”), so he doesn’t see the side of her that is impossibly more brutal than what she’s willing to do right in front of him.
Even as we settle into this story, King has some surprises up his sleeve. There’s a sly reference to his work on “Grayson” for those who know what to look for, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Revelations from the previous issue are quietly moved forward here, giving Kyle a great moment on board a shuttle. It’s a wise choice on King’s part; it keeps Kyle from looking like too much of a puppet and shows off his intelligence as well as his strength of character. Of course, it’s also a wonderful cliffhanger to lead into next month’s installment.
Bagenda and Guara work well together, and at times I found myself unsure if Guara was drawing some parts of the book for Bagenda, or if there was a pencils/ink split. Whatever the decision, it results in a cohesive look for the comic. The different alien races of the Vega System continue to come across as unique and inventive, and moments that are supposed to be violent and gruesome manage to get the intent across to the reader without being over-the-top or disgusting.
The layouts in “The Omega Men” #7 are outstanding and well worth noting. The nine-panel grid is still present, but more and more it’s used as a basic framework rather than an absolute, as panel borders are knocked down (although never moved) when necessary. Having a two-page spread where there’s a three-panel column on either side is a prime example; the two columns frame the crowded city street perfectly, telling the tale while also providing a strong sense of setting. The scene where the hypnos are first used is also a great set of pages, with a layout of reverse images: one without the hypnos activated, the second with them in full force. Fajardo’s colors play into this well, and he is extra-careful to gray out just the right parts of the panels so we immediately understand what’s in disguise and what isn’t. It’s a perfect lead-up to the end-of-issue moment on the ship, where everything falls perfectly into place.
Once again, “The Omega Men” #7 blows its competition out of the water. With each new issue connecting with what’s come before it so well, it makes an eventual re-read of the entire series that much more appealing. King, Bagenda, Guara and Fajardo are in the midst of creating a near-perfect space epic with “The Omega Men,” that rare book that any fan of the genre should buy.