Or – “Would It Kill Marvel To Have A Hero Who Aren’t Emotionally Scarred For Life?”

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Three words: BETA RAY MOTHA#&$ING BILL! I’ve said for two months now that Oeming has written these issues with the intent that it would be the first arc of an ongoing series. Since the series has been switched over to limited status, this is doubly frustrating. Not only does it feel like we’re watching yet another Marvel title that’s being written for the eventual trade, it seems like a foregone conclusion that Omega Flight itself won’t be assembled until the last issue, by which point I fear the audience will be gone…

Previously in Omega Flight: in the wake of the death of Alpha Flight, Canadia’s premiere super-team, Department H coerced Walter Langkowski, a.k.a. Sasquatch, and OF1.jpgcoincidentally the only remaining original Alphan to spearhead a new team. In the spirit of cooperation (read: he may need allies when the fecal matter hits the rotating blades) Iron Man sent former Force Works toadies Arachne and U.S. Agent to fill out the team, while somebody in the Canadian government had the brilliant idea to take the Guardian costume and put it on the man who killed Guardian. Former member Talisman (the daughter of founding member Shaman) has refused multiple attempts to return to duty, only agreeing to even assist the team when Sasquatch goes missing. Langkowski is kidnapped and tortured by The Wrecking Crew, who, honestly, are the only characters who come across as in any way capable so far in the series. Meanwhile, a mysterious lad named Simon Walters has made his way to Canadian soil, and is coincidentally in the path of the Wrecking Crew. I sure do hope he has something special up his sleeve, he said conspiratorially, nudge nudge, knowwhatImean? As this issue kicks off, The Crew has broken through the walls of reality while Simon reveals why he’s here…

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So, his secret is out. Simon Walters is Beta Ray Bill. This story comes courtesy of the newsmagazine, “Duh!” Whomever or whatever has drawn the Wrecking Crew here, their emanations have also been disrupting Bill’s dreams (and coincidentally, also Talisman’s.) While the Wrecker and his cronies try and find their way to break through the walls of reality, Talisman confronts the man killed her papa. When U.S. Agent tries to strong-arm her into backing down, she blasts him halfway across the room, and confronts the agent in charge about what he thinks he’s doing. “He needs the Guardian suit to control [his power.] Without it, he could flare out like a sun. Don’t you see? He needs the Guardian suit. And Omega Flight needs the Guardian. This is providence.” Don’t tell the mystic seer about providence, Agent Paleface. Michael himself then speaks up, telling her that her father would have understood…

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Talisman stands down, confused, still angry, but no longer in a murderous rage at Michael’s words. Suddenly, the team gets visual confirmation on the Wrecking Crew’s reign of terror, and the fact that they have ‘Squatch in their clutches. U.S. Agent, ever the decisive jerk, starts out, barking orders as he goes. “Hannibal stays here. I’m not bringing an untrained rookie to watch my back.” “He’s the Guardian,” replies the team’s handler. “He comes with us.” “Maybe when he’s through crying,” sneers Agent. Talisman very clearly states her point as she stalks out. “I am NOT working with my father’s killer.” In Toronto, the Wrecking Crew has found the entrance to the nether-world, thanks to the Asgardian Norn-power of Wrecker’s bar.

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But wherever the jerks go, Simon must follow, drawn as much as they are to the power within the walls. “Dudes… I think I’m scared. We just walked fifty feet through a two-foot wall.” Piledriver cracks me up… “It’s a dimensional portal, and only the Wrecker’s bar could open it,” replies Thunderball, apparently not completely devoid of his intellect after all. Piledriver is still nervous, and if you imagine him speaking like Gomer Pyle, his every word will be answered with, at the very least, a smirk.

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“Not energy,” says Wrecker. “Power!” Sasquatch seems to be waking up (for a good reason, I’d wager) as they get closer to a series of strange structures. One of them bears a monstrous face remarkably similar to that of Sasquatch himself. The Crew gets closer, but is suddenly BLASTED with mystery beams, knocking them all back a few feet, as the face begins to speak. “You have done well, mortals!” The creature offers to give them great power, and shows them what is to come: huge monstrous creatures, demons of teeth and jaws and little else, the same demons that destroyed Bill’s home planet. Piledriver drawls, “This is cosmic!” I hear it in my head as “Disyere is Caws-Mick, y’all!” Simon finally shows himself, making a fist and declaring, “That’s not cosmic…”

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I certainly don’t speak for everyone, but I can tell you this: I’m buying this series for Beta Ray Bill, and I am NOT happy that this is his first chance for action. Wrecker’s red eyes are only the first indicator of his heightened powers, as he and his crew start destroying everything in sight. Piledriver suddenly stops, wondering “What happened once we destroy everything? What will we have for ourselves?” It’s remarkable that HE’S the one to have the deep thought, but Thunderball blows him off. “Hey, Nietzsche. Less thinking… More smashing!” Beta Ray Bill faces off with The Wrecker, who seems to be back to (if not above) his original Thor-fighting power-levels.

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That’ll probably leave a mark… The two titan continue to smash at each other, as the mysterious other-dimensional demons close in. Bill manages to overcome Wrecker, smashing him half-way to East Hell, but the demons swoop in for the kill. Even in his weakened state, Beta still has a goodly chunk of the power of Thor, and draws down the lightning upon them, expending all his power in one huge burst of energy. The demons that destroyed his people seem to be routed, Bill crashes to the ground, spent. Unfortunately, Wrecker is back on his feet, and back to his usual brutal, stupid fighting style.

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For those of you playing at home, The Joe Bob totals: Out of six heroes in the book, two of them have been beaten repeatedly with implements of destruction, one is an emotional wreck, one is inches from a murderous rage, and two are Americans angry that they’ve been sent to Canada. Quite the team we have here… The usual Marvel tactic of “One from Column A, Two from Column B” team-building that brought us The original New Warriors, most X-Teams, The Loners, and the Secret Defenders hasn’t seemed to have worked here, (though the fact that most of the members haven’t been in the same room with one another yet probably helps with that.)

I don’t know why I’m so sour about this issue, as it gave us several things I’ve been wanting: an explanation for the actions of the Crew, Beta Ray Bill in action, and something that justifies calling the book “Omega Flight.” For those who don’t know, the creatures that have empowered the Crew are the Great Beasts, which also leads me to believe that we’re going to be seeing Sasquatch in action next issue, as they are part of his power source, as well. Specifically, the great beast Tannaraq (the face that blasted the crew) gave his form to Langkowski’s orange-furred alter-ego. I am sooo looking forward to the team actually BEING a team, and the action scene this issue, short and brutal as it was, at least constitutes some forward motion. Scott Kolins pencils are still very good, looking even more complex than last time ’round, but deficiencies in the pacing and my general distaste for the whole “Guardian trussed up like a serial killer” imagery knock it down a peg, causing Omega Flight to rate a so-so 2 stars out of 5. There’s still room for improvement here, and at this point, it’s possible that we may see more of Omega after this series, but if the general reading public shares any of my unhappiness for the glacial pace, I don’t expect to see an ongoing.

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The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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5 Comments

  1. Young
    June 9, 2007 at 1:09 pm — Reply

    Simon Walters…cute homage to Bill’s creator, Walt Simonson, eh :)

  2. Brent F.
    June 9, 2007 at 1:42 pm — Reply

    Soooo… we waited this long for Beta to show up and he gets his arse handed to him already? To top that off the team hasn’t even formed yet and there are only two issues left.

    This series sucks and blows. Omega indeed.

  3. Baal
    June 10, 2007 at 12:50 pm — Reply

    Total crap. Anyone second guessing Marvel’s decision not to have this be an ongoing? They knew not even a rabid AF fan would support this longterm. I forget whether I put this on my pull list but if I didn’t, this was the last issue I’m buying.

  4. Jim
    June 10, 2007 at 11:58 pm — Reply

    It’s not like I had huge expectations for this series, with that line-up for B & C-listers. It’s a shame, though, because I liked the original AF a lot, and I think it’s a concept that could work, but instead the team is shoehorned into the “Intiative” storyline.
    This issue annoyed me a lot. The only two members of the OF I like (S’quatch & BRB) have been brutally beaten by a group of one-dimensional villians who are entirely uninteresting… The line by the Dept H guy about OF not needing to be Canadians (as long as they serve Canada) feels completely wrong to me. That’s exactly the point of A/OF! Plus, I don’t like the art. Everyone is blocky and Wrecker looks like he has the physique of Tony Soprano. At this point, I’m not following this series if it does become permanent.

  5. June 12, 2007 at 3:12 am — Reply

    Gotta admit. The slow burn indicated in the first issue well and truly stripped the interest outta me. Which is a shame, because a line-up with Beta Ray Bill and USAgent (and gang) was definitely something that had me interested.
    Maybe next time they try this, the six-issue formation trend will be over.

    I wish Oeming was drawing for Marvel.

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