Sunday, 23 December 2018


Image copyright MARVEL COMICS

Well, it may have taken me around 40 years to get there, but yesterday I finally finished a journey begun in 1977.  That was when I purchased the first issue of a new MARVEL mag called OMEGA The UNKNOWN (as well as the following four issues over the next few months), but for some strange reason I never bought another issue after #5.  This was probably due to me never seeing #6, and if I ever saw subsequent issues (can't recall whether I did or not), the fact that I'd missed one would deter me from buying any more.  (For me, back numbers weren't so easy to acquire as they are today, as I didn't know about comics fandom, comic marts, or comics shops which sold them.)

What I also didn't know at the time was that there were only 10 issues in total due to poor sales (a fact I only learned around 5 years ago), and the series finished on a cliffhanger without a proper ending (but with a promise that there'd be one in future issues of The DEFENDERS).  So, just a few days ago, I decided to track down the absent numbers from my collection and complete the set.  And there they all were on ebay sure enough - but there was also something else.  Namely, a 2005 collected edition containing all 10 comics, plus the two issues of The Defenders in which the loose ends were 'tied up'.

It made more financial sense to buy the book so that's what I did (though I'll still purchase the remaining 5 individual comics at a future date), and I read it at various intervals throughout the day until I was up to speed with the events of Omega's '70s adventures.  Although writer (the late) STEVE GERBER (with MARY SKRENES) had intended to pen the finale, he left Marvel before doing so and the task fell to other hands (STEVEN GRANT).  It's likely that the published wrap-up differs from how Gerber would've resolved matters and I'd have preferred to read his version, but at least I finally reached the finish line - even if it took 40 years to do so.

(It seemed that Omega was meant to be the adult incarnation of teenage pro-tagonist JAMES MICHAEL STARLING, possibly from the future or perhaps in a BILLY BATSON/CAPTAIN MARVEL type way, but the enigma was never satisfactorily explained because the mag's short run prevented it from being fully developed.  Grant's two-parter was likely just a hastily-devised, expedient, 'brush the dust under the carpet' way of appeasing readers who wanted some kind of conclusion to the storyline.)    

Anyway, as I said, a voyage embarked on in 1977 was eventually completed in 2018, and the gulf between the two points seems like no time at all, though the realisation of just how much water has passed under the bridge since then also calls out to me for attention.  That's one of the paradoxes of time - some past events can sometimes feel like only yesterday and a 100 years ago at almost the exact same moment, as both perceptions wrestle for recognition on the mattress of memory.

So dear readers, what's your longest period between starting and finishing a series, whether it be comic, book, or TV serial?  And was journey's end worth the wait or somewhat of a disappointment?  Do tell.  


Dave S said...

About 1986 I bought Iron Man 152 in a second hand bookshop, and read that issue til I knew it better than the writer David Michelinie probably did. It ended on a cliffhanger, and I didn't manage to read #153 until maybe 3 or 4 years ago.

I have to say that although 153 is a perfectly good issue, well-written, nice art, good wrap-up to the story, it didn't have the amazing mind-boggling impact that 152 for me all those years ago.

I assumed this was just because I had grown up and my tastes were (slightly) more sophisticated, but when I re-read 152 now, it is still gripping and exciting to me.

The obvious conclusion to this is that when I read 152, I'm not just reliving the story, I'm reliving the feeling of being 11 years old and experiencing this brilliant comic for the first time.

Kid said...

Great observation, DS, I think you're spot on. When I re-read a comic I enjoyed as a kid, I re-experience whatever feelings I felt then. Although it's also possible that some stories were particularly good at the time and stand up well years later. The two scenarios aren't necessarily mutually exclusive I suppose.

Anonymous said...

There was a story in Spider-Man Comics Weekly in 1975 in which Peter Parker acquired four extra arms (originally from Amazing Spider-Man #100 as I'm sure you know, Kid) and he then goes on to fight Morbius, the Living Vampire. I missed the final issue of the story in SMCW but I eventually read the denouement 27 years later in 2002 when I bought one of those Marvel Essentials paperbacks. It was rather unsatisfying because Morbius appears to die in the end but I knew he returned later.

Kid said...

That's happened to me a few times, CJ. For example, I read Thor #158 in 1967 or '68, but didn't read the follow-up 'til it was reprinted in SMCW in the mid-'70s. Then, in the mid-'80s, I re-acquired Thor #158 along with #159, and I've still got 'em to this day.

Lionel Hancock said...

I have never heard of Omega The Unknown. . But I gave up comics around 1975. The last ones I collected were Journey Into Mystery and Vault of Horror...

Kid said...

Never mind, LH - they're still available today in the Epic Collection reprints, so you can catch up on everything you missed. You might need a small Lottery win to be able to afford them though.

TC said...

I had Thor #132, Avengers #47, and Tales of Suspense #97 when they were brand new. All were cliffhangers, and I didn't read the conclusions until years later, in the reprint series Marvel Spectacular, Marvel Triple Action, and Marvel Double Feature.

I also had that late 1960's World's Finest issue where Superman lost his super-powers after exposure to kryptonite or something, and he tried to continue crime-fighting as a non-powered hero called (IIRC) Nova. It was the first half of a two-parter, and I never bought the next issue. Since it was a so-called "imaginary" (i.e., out-of-continuity, "what if") story, I didn't care how it turned out.

I was sort of vaguely aware of Omega. That is, I knew the comic existed, but I never bought it.

I'm reminded of the episode of The Big Bang Theory where Sheldon was angry because the SyFi Channel had cancelled "Alphas" and the last episode was a cliffhanger. "They can't just end it abruptly. We need closure. Firefly had a movie to wrap it up. Buffy the Vampire Slayer continued in a comic book. Heroes gradually lowered the quality until we were relieved when it ended." At the end, he tracked down the producer and called him on the phone. "How did you plan for it to end? Yes. Uh-huh. I see. Well, that stinks. No wonder you got cancelled. Goodbye."

Happy Holidays, everyone.

Kid said...

I think that was World's Finest #178, TC - #179 was a giant-size reprint issue, and the story was concluded in #180. It only took me around 46 or 47 years to finally obtain that ish and find out how the story ended. Never give up is my motto. Have a great Christmas.

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