An emerging new Superhero Universe forms the backdrop for the adventures and drama in Omni #1 from international publisher, Humanoids. Writer Devin Grayson introduces the reader to this new world through the eyes of Mae Walters, friend and assistant to newly Ignited medical Doctor Cecelia Cobbina.
The comic opens with a quick introduction to the Humanoids shared superhero universe. Humanoids has been a powerhouse of European comic books with some extremely famous creators working for them. In more recent years they have started to make their presence known in the American market. With the hiring of Mark Waid and John Cassaday, to name just a few, Humanoids have launched their new universe of comics under the Ignited banner.
Ignited refers to an evolutionary jump that has created a number of super powered humans. Across the world people are transforming as their powers emerge. One such person is Cecelia Cobbina, the hero of Omni, a medical doctor who has been working in extreme conditions with the Doctors Without Boarders project.
In the first issue of Omni, Cobbina is travelling America trying to find out what has happened to her and, more importantly, WHY it has happened. With her on her journey is Mae who has a romantic notion about the superhero aspect of Cobbina’s life and this plays an important role in the storytelling.
Writer Devin Grayson has written a fair number of superhero comics for the Big 2 publishers and this is evident in this first issue. She structures the story around the sidekick and her take on the origin of the hero of the comic. Mae is writing a journal of her adventures and Greyson uses this storytelling technique to frame the action around the Origin of Cobbina’s powers. This allows the story to jump from past to present, introducing the readers to the characters while also building the plot in an exciting way.
This structure also allows Greyson to naturally include a lot of voice over exposition bringing the reader up to speed much quicker. Greyson moves the plot forward quickly, incorporating a fascinating origin story into the larger narrative.
Cobbina’s power set revolves around super-fast analytical thinking which is not a typical power for a superhero comic. This allows for some creative thinking from the art team to truly show off Cobbina’s power. In the origin scene artist Alitha E Martinez creates a series of ghost like interpretations of Cobbina to represent the different aspects of her mind. Colorist Bryan Valenza gives each aspect a different color wash to give them an ethereal feel but also to create a link to the ‘voices’ inside Cobbina’s head.
The effect is completed by the lettering provided by A Larger World. They match the coloring of each aspect to the various caption boxes that float around the initial double page spread. This coloring is then carried forward to the rest of the comic meaning that panel space can be saved by not having to physically represent each voice. The overall effect is wonderful with the establishing scene and the follow up conversations building not only Cobbina’s character but also giving personalities to each of the voices.
Unlike James Mcavoy’s character in Split, Cobbina’s multiple personalities all work together to read a situation and come up with a solution or action in super-fast time. She is like a one-person Council of Reeds but without the self-important, world destroying tendencies.
Omni is set in a realistic world and the art reflects this. Each scene has a strong physical location rendered beautifully by Martinez. The chaos of a battlefield surgery tent is depicted with as much importance as a quiet suburb porch conversation. Both of these have significance to the Cobbina and neither is given more weigh in the narrative.
There are some moments where the storytelling doesn’t work as well as others. There are a couple of scenes where it takes a minute to realise that it is a flashback, or part of Mae’s journal logs. And there are some awkward speech balloon placings resulting in a break in conversational pacing. However, the overall plot and visuals of the comic are engaging. The quick introduction at the beginning makes it easier for the reader to get straight into the comic without feeling that they have missed something and from there on, Omni carries itself brilliantly.
Based on the quality of this comic it does make you want to check out other titles in the shared universe. The concept is a sound one, and is very reminiscent of the ending to the T.V. series The 4400. Omni isn’t a typical superhero comic but it does contain new ways of looking at the associated clichés, similar to Stronghold from AfterShock Comics.
If you are bored of the standard capes and cowls narratives from the Big 2 publishers and fancy something different, then Omni and the Ignition Universe is for you.