Monday, March 06, 2006

The End of Omega

The following piece is a contribution to Plok's "Seven Soldiers of Steve" project in honor of comics writer Steve Gerber. I've written a more personal tribute to Steve here, and I'm always on board for any effort to give this guy the props he deserves. Enjoy!

This is how it ends:

The alien visitor we know only as Omega -- the alleged title character of OMEGA THE UNKNOWN, though that isn't his name, he's never called that by anyone else, and he's not the lead character of the series -- has travelled to Las Vegas on an urgent mission. His goal on Earth now requires large sums of money, which he's getting in the casinos with the help of his sole human friend, an elderly Hell's Kitchen pawnbroker named Gramps. But their takings are stolen, and Omega goes after the culprit. Uncharacteristically emotional and agitated, Omega threatens the culprit, demanding the return of the stolen money...and three Las Vegas policemen, mistaking him for the felon, shoot at point blank range. Omega drops to the ground, and our last image is of the fallen alien apparently lifeless on the Strip.

Whatever Marvel Comics may have told you, that was the last we ever saw of Omega...and whatever Marvel may tell you now, that's very likely the last we'll ever see of Omega. His body is still lying there, eternally bleeding to death but never dying, like Prometheus chained to the Las Vegas Strip.




Superhero stories are often described as adolescent power fantasies: an extended metaphor for the juvenile ego discovering its own power, lashing out against the mysterious forces of the world, and the growing realization that no one else will ever truly understand your true hidden self -- the ultimate "secret identity" we all possess. If that's so, what writers Steve Gerber and Mary Skrenes did in OMEGA THE UNKNOWN was decouple the superhero metaphor from the adolescent reality it represents, separating the real boy and the costumed hero to give new meaning to both.

In a text piece in the first issue, Gerber says "I'd always resented the lousy treatment kids had received in comics over the past three decades: either they had to be magically transformed into a full-grown man to be effectual, or they were saddled with an adult "mentor" and relegated to the duty of making bad puns during fight scenes. I wanted to do a real twelve-year-old, a human being poised on the edge of puberty, facing all the enormous (and enourmous-seeming) problems adolescence would bring..." But, he realized, to make this work the protagonist could not be wearing a super-hero leotard. Spider-Man may have been revolutionary at one time as the teenaged superhero with "real problems" but the limits of that approach had been reached long ago. And yet, a costumed hero was necessary for the commercial considerations of Marvel Comics circa 1975. This new book needed both a protagonist and a hero. One would be life sized, and one larger. Working with his friend and ally Mary Skrenes -- who had previously written mystery, horror, romance, and funny animal comics under a variety of pseudonyms -- Gerber fleshed out his vision of this new series.

The artist would be a favorite collaborator, the legendary Jim Mooney, a childhood favorite of Gerber's for his work on the TOMMY TOMORROW series twenty years earlier. (Among hundreds of other credits, Mooney also drew DIAL H FOR HERO, one of those comics about a child magically transformed to an adult...and SUPERGIRL, a well-known juvenile offshoot of a more capable adult mentor.)

The first issue of OMEGA started in sound superhero fashion with a blue clad, red-caped heroic type fleeing the conquest of his native world by robot armies. The mysterious figure's story is intercut with a parallel story on Earth, in which an aloof, intellectual boy raised and home schooled in rural isolation discovers that his "parents" are actually robots. Their unexpected destruction in a car crash leaves young James-Michael Starling adrift in the harsh neighborhood of Hell's Kitchen in New York City...very much the polar opposite of his previous cultured and disciplined upbringing. When the mysterious alien arrives on Earth, he becomes James-Michael's covert protector, but always staying at a distance. There's some bond between the two, but what is it? Is "Omega" the boy's father? Is James-Michael another refugee of the same race? Were his android "parents" connected to the robots who sacked the alien world?

We may never know. OMEGA was cancelled after ten issues, just as the narrative was reaching a major turning point. After several harrowing encounters with school violence, James-Michael flees Hell's Kitchen and returns to his secluded former home...where he discovers further robot duplicates of his deceased "parents." There was a sense something major was about to be revealed, if only the book had lasted one more issue...

Marvel just published a reprint collection of the original ten issues of OMEGA, along with a couple of unwelcome extras (more about these in a moment), so there's no need for me to recap the course of the series. If you're interested you can read them for yourself, and I cannot recommend the series too highly. It combines all the pomp and cosmic significance for which Marvel was known in the mid-Seventies with an intimate potrayal of real people and motivations as sophisticated as anything ever published in mainstream comics. It includes the eponymous super-powered character with blue tights and a red cape and plenty of bad-guy-crushing action -- both the Hulk and Marvel villain Electro appear in the second issue, to reassure fans that standard Marvel action is never far off -- but the real story is about the soul-crushing burden of adolescence on a sensitive introspective mind.

The problem is that Marvel won't leave the corpse alone.

On the final page of the last issue, a note from "Steve, Mary, and Jim" promises that the story of Omega will be concluded in a future issue of THE DEFENDERS. But when this finally came about, Gerber had split from Marvel acrimoniously, and the two-issue "conclusion" was written with what can only be called hostile intent. That hatchet job is reprinted in the collection alongside the real OMEGA stories: I won't bother to describe it here. Gerber assures his fans that it bears no resemblance whatsoever to his intentions for the characters.

The rift between Gerber and Marvel was healed to some extent in later years. Gerber returned to write titles such as SHE-HULK, FOOLKILLER, and a revival of HOWARD THE DUCK -- all excellent -- and new management at the House of Ideas seemed much more sympathetic. But the new spirit of goodwill was undone by Marvel's announcement that novelist Jonathan Lethem would be "reviving" OMEGA THE UNKNOWN against the express wishes of his creators. Gerber and Skrenes' immediate response can be seen here. The controversy has been covered at length elsewhere. I'm just going to say I feel Lethem has acted in bad faith, showing no regard for the wishes of fellow writers, and exploiting someone else's work in a way he would fight with every means available were it done to him.

But this essay isn't about controversy, it's about a great issue of a great comic. The last issue of OMEGA is a perfect little microcosm of many things that make Gerber and Skrenes' writing so worthwhile.




The story opens with the funeral of John Hadley, one of James-Michael's only school friends, who had been critically injured in a beating at the hands of bullies in a previous issue. Not intending to die like John, James-Michael announces his decision to leave the city to his other friend Dian, who in turn asks if she can come along. But the mysterious Omega has also been watching the funeral from a distance, the same remove from which he always observes his young charge...and, in the way that his decisions always seem to parallel or complement those of James-Michael, he also decides that a change of locale is in order: he collects his elderly friend Gramps for a sudden trip to Las Vegas.

In Vegas, the increasingly and uncharacteristically talkative Omega teaches Gramps a Zenlike method for becoming attuned to a slot machine, producing an immediate jackpot. Soon both men will be wealthy, and Omega will use the money for his secret purpose: to rescue James-Michael from Hell's Kitchen. He doesn't realize the boy has already made his departure...

Omega makes a brief trip to the desert to recuperate (from the effort of talking so much, we're told) where in a hallucinatory interlude he's attacked for no apparent reason by a oddly malleable rose-hued demon. When Omega tries to punch said demon in the chest, his fist stretches through the monster's body as if the creature were made of rubber; I mention this because it will be important later. The resulting gratuitous fight scene demonstrates Gerber's flair for the narrative double-entendre style he perfected long before Alan Moore came along and won accolades for doing essentially the same thing.

This apparently throwaway and meaningless scene is quintessential Steve Gerber in another way. Most scenes of violence in his Marvel work are couched in futility and outright absurdity. While other comics writers were trying to give increasingly "logical" and "realistic" justification to their action scenes, Gerber seems to have decided early on that this stuff couldn't be taken seriously and there was no reason to try. Building a more verbose action comic isn't his interest: the relationships of his characters are where the real action can be found. Bring the monster on and have him fight the hero for a couple of pages for no purpose and then disappear, and we can get on with the good stuff. Like Gramps, the kindly World War I veteran who has taken Omega under his wing, all excited by the adventure of a gambling spree in Las Vegas. Or James-Michael, a prepubescent boy raised by a pair of robots and frequently sounding like one himself, allowing a girl into his private world and thereby demonstrating how socialized he's become thru his recent experiences. These are human beings experiencing human moments, and no rubbery monster fighting a guy in tights can mean as much as that.

When James-Michael runs away, his adult caretakers back in New York -- the overly empathetic Ruth and the jaded bohemian survivor Amber -- differ sharply in their responses. Ruth is naturally worried for his safety, but Amber says "Close the floodgates and put on a pot of coffee, willya? It's no tragedy. He made a move on his own, that's all -- without consulting us grown ups. I'm telling ya -- he'll be in touch. The punk's nothing if not responsible!" From the first issue, Amber has been in the role of the cool, clued-in adult who alone treats James-Michael with respect as an equal, conferring on him the dignity of honorary adulthood: an intellectual teenager's dream of the ideal aunt or older sister. But here Amber becomes Gerber's mouthpiece, overtly stating one of his recurring themes: that children live in a world of constant peril and horror no matter what adults may do to shield them, they are far more capable than they're given credit for being, and they deserve both respect and trust -- in fact, they need these things in order to become adults.

The underlying message of the best children's fantasy is "young hero undergoes a terrible ordeal of initiation to achieve symbolic maturity" and this iteration of the heroic myth serves as a metaphor to explain the growth process to young readers who are going through a similar ordeal in more prosaic terms. What makes OMEGA especially potent is that, for all the series is couched in fantasy terms -- an alien costumed hero, strange psychic powers, robotic surrogate parents, the super-villains of the Marvel Universe -- James-Michael's trials are not of the metaphorical fantasy type. His quest isn't for a magic ring or to end the rule of winter over a fairyland: it's to cope with the sudden loss of his parents and to survive the brutality of bullies and life in a dangerous and crime-ridden urban neighborhood. Childhood is a time of real danger and outright melodrama, and the too-sensitive and too-intelligent child faces constant threat to his or her identity. When these comics were published I was the same age as James-Michael Starling, and I immediately felt that his story was a potent metaphor for my own life by not being metaphorical at all.




And then there's the thief...

There are many good reasons a writer might reuse a character from an earlier work: in response to audience demand, a shortcut to save having to build a new character from scratch, personal fondness, or the chance to show the character in a different light. But in continuity-minded comics, it creates an illusion of depth to the imaginary world that assists the suspension of disbelief. Our memory of accepting the previous story bootstraps our acceptance of the new one. This principle is the basis of the whole Seven Soldiers of Steve project, of course: the idea that Gerber reused particular characters in different series as a way of creating a "Gerber continuity" within all his Marvel comics, a subset of the Marvel Universe itself.

(A typical example of Marvel continuity of the period appears in OMEGA issue #2, when a guest appearance by the Incredible Hulk includes dialogue and an editorial note specifying that these events take place immediately after the events of DEFENDERS #35 -- now on sale! -- even though placing this appearance chronologically in the Hulk's life doesn't really have any impact on the story. Although continuity is now treasured for its own sake by generations of fans, remember that it was born as a sales-enhancement device; a way to remind the reader of OMEGA there are other Marvel titles he or she might want to buy as well. Just as the cover and story appearance of the Hulk in that issue of OMEGA is a way to entice Hulk fans to pick up yet another Marvel book they might otherwise pass by. All of this is obvious, but in an era when continuity is being held up as an end in itself, it's good to remember that historically the main purpose of comic books has been to sell more comic books. But I digress...)

If a writer brings back an old character and doesn't identify him or her as such -- the nature of the medium requires you to assume that only a small portion of the readers will have read the previous appearance; any comic book might be some reader's first -- spotting the callback to the past becomes a sort of Easter Egg for the attentive reader. And what we have here might be such a case.

At the climax of the issue, Omega and Gramps have their winnings stolen from their hotel room by a female thief who produces tentacles from her forehead, choking both men into unconsciousness, and later using the same appendages to make her escape. The culprit introduces herself by saying "Little Ruby gets paid for using her head." She turns out to be the boss of the malleable rose-colored demon seen earlier, addressing him as "Dibbuk."

So we have a larcenous woman named Ruby with a malleable head, who commands a malleable servant. Could this be Ruby Thursday, a villain from Gerber's run on THE DEFENDERS, who replaced her own head with a perfect sphere of rose-colored "malleable organic circuitry" that could be reshaped to her will? Could "Dibbuk" -- the Hebrew word for "demon" -- be a synthetic creature extruded from that same flexible stuff? When last seen, Ruby had been foiled by the Defenders along with her colleagues the Headmen, but we never saw what happened to her afterward. Had Gerber and Skrenes actually concluded the Omega story in DEFENDERS, it's entirely possible Ruby could have provided the bridge between the two series, clearing the way for Doctor Strange, Valkyrie, Nighthawk et al to become involved in the final resolution of James-Michael Starling's mystery.

But that isn't what happened. Ruby's identity remains unconfirmed, as do the answers to pretty much every question raised by OMEGA THE UNKNOWN. To this day, thirty years later, Gerber and Skrenes leave open the possibility they may yet complete their story as it was originally intended, and for that reason will never disclose any of its secrets. So James-Michael and Dian are still staring in amazement at the robot duplicates of his parents, and Omega himself still lies on the Vegas Strip...and possibly always will.




The same cannot be said for Gerber and Skrenes...well, except that it can, in that both are still in Las Vegas. But the writing team has reunited for the DC series HARD TIME. (For nebulous contractual reasons only Gerber was given a writing credit on the first volume; the second volume gives Skrenes her due as co-author.) Even without a superhero character, HARD TIME -- the story of a juvenile offender sentenced to prison as an adult, following a Columbine-like shooting -- has many, many similarities to OMEGA in theme, story elements, and character types. The primary difference is that the American comics scene has changed enough to allow a series without a superhero character -- although there is a fantasy element, and the protagonist has strange psychic powers -- and to permit the use of language and "adult" situations not possible at Marvel in the Seventies. Any fan of one would have to be an equal fan of the other. For this fan in particular, nothing could be better than seeing that after three decades these two writers have lost none of their creative fire or storytelling ability, and their empathy for their characters is every bit as strong. The story is not the plot; the story is how people relate to each other.

Buy the OMEGA collection if you like; it's definitely worth reading. But make sure you buy HARD TIME, so that Gerber and Skrenes have a chance to complete the story this time.

10 comments:

  1. Wonderful stuff, RAB! I especially like the explanation of how Gerber and Skrenes decouple the alter egos of fantasy wish-fulfillment...that the "secret identity" of Omega had come unstuck from the other "secret identity" of James-Michael was always something that made/didn't make sense to me when first reading the series...interesting how the mirroring each performs for the other seems so much more potently strange when they're taken out of the same body and mind, and can affect each other only unconsciously, at a distance. And, as in real life, mysteriously: neither Omega nor James-Michael really ever know why they are motivated the way they are. Some of their motivations are explicable, and other parts of them aren't.

    Hey, just like me!

    I also appreciate that you point out the nature of the time and business that OTU was embedded in: not enough is made of this, I think, because really that OTU could have been a superhero book at all was a damn weird thing in its own right...and it probably makes the effort unduplicatable today. A current-day writer or artist couldn't possibly have to push and pull at the formal constraints of mass-market superhero narrative as Gerber and Skrenes and Mooney did in OTU, and so the kind of fancy genre-defying footwork that would be brought to a "subversive" superhero story in the present day could never look the same or have the same exact punch or point that OTU's did. We'll never see those days again!

    Finally, your words on Gerber's approach to fight scenes: exactly. Just what I was thinking. I guess Howard gives us the maximally-distilled version of this, where both the threats and the physical action are absolutely absurd, and yet still unavoidable. Strange how this stripping-down of fight scenes in Gerber's work doesn't entirely rob them of meaning! Maybe it's like the decoupling of Omega and James-Michael, it sets the motivation and the action free from one another to be explored more fruitfully in juxtaposition...

    Aha, so now who sounds like they're high on cough syrup? Very auspicious beginning to SSoS, RAB, thank you! I may be back at some later time to blather on about this post a bit more, if I can think of more to say: beware my rambling comments!

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  2. Wow. From reading about these book synopsises, both here and on other sites, you'd think that it's a miracle that anything truly good ever gets made.

    Of course, it's not as worth writing about the successful stories, the ones that aren't derailed by corporate meddling, creator exodus or someone's ego. But still, is it just me, or are there a lot of those failed stories?

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  3. Thanks for the kind words, plok...but I'm already wanting to retract and/or amend my comments about Gerber's use of action scenes in his Marvel work. Thinking back on THE DEFENDERS, one could hardly say that book was wanting for traditional superhero fight scenes, or that these were anything less than logical and meticulously worked out. When it came to doing the straight-up superhero stuff, Gerber was as capable a practitioner as any. But in titles such as HOWARD THE DUCK and OMEGA he was looking beyond that sort of thing to more important matters. I just think my previous comments may have been an overgeneralization.

    John, that's what happens when artists don't own their work or control the means of production; management can pull the plug on you, or give your toys away to someone else. So yeah, it's a miracle anything good ever gets made at all. Until the Marxist revolution comes...

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  4. Hmm...yes and no, I think, RAB. I just got through re-reading the Sons of the Serpent arc of Defenders myself, and about the fight scenes in those issues I would say they're not quite entirely traditional after all, in part because they're so meticulously worked-out. Meticulously justified, I'd even call them...I interpret Gerber's typically heavy captioning over his fight scenes as a way of carefully making the reader aware of their representational nature: it strikes me that the fights aren't where he sites his action, but that they're instead played out mostly as the consequences of earlier choices, almost as fate...or, if you will, as the tail end of character trajectories. So he's at pains to display the course of the fights as inevitabilities, something he accomplishes by minimizing the classic superhero in-fight dialogue.

    Just a thought! And I can think of some examples where that doesn't hold true, either, but I think as a general rule that's his style. Perhaps interestingly, there's an awful lot of action in Defenders that isn't fighting, where the heroes get to display their ingenuity...compare this to, oh I don't know, say a typical Lee/Kirby FF action sequence, where the ingenuity is displayed within the fight in order to turn its result around in the heroes' favour, or where the story is "dogged determination triumphs over superior force"...I note that in Defenders the equations of violent conflict are often a bit colder than that, and that superior force succeeds against the heroes fairly regularly. And then later on when they (inevitably) apply their ingenuity to getting their own back, it's all just as one-sided.

    I dunno! Now I'm thinking of many, many counterexamples, too. But I still think this is Gerber's style even in the straight-up superhero fare. It's just that in Howard it's all laced with unbelievability anyway, and then in Omega the violence is so strongly symbolic of the internal struggle that it's like it's hardly even allied with it at all. You know: paradoxically.

    I'm still just throwing that out there, though. Possibly more analysis required...

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  5. Goddammit, now I have to buy the Omega TPB.

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  6. RAB--I held off on reading your post until I had made my own contribution to SSoS...it was worth the wait! I haven't read Omega or even the Defenders story with Ruby Thursday, but I absolutely love the mysterious connection you chart between them via Ruby and Dibbuk. This kind of unexplained mystery is almost better if it is never answered! I'll be keeping my eye open for that Omega TPB, but in the meantime, I'll be picking up Hard Time for sure. Excellent post.

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  7. Jim, considering what you just wrote -- two months later -- that's high praise indeed.

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  8. After following your wonderful tribute to Steve Gerber, I have recently been contemplating whether Steve Gerber intended a number of his characters to have sprung from the same concept despite his never getting to reveal them before he’d left Marvel acrimoniously.

    The first suspect that comes to mind is Tara, the older daughter of Stakar and Aleta (Starhawk), and the woman-child of the same name, first of the Children of the Comet, creation of the Caretakers of Arcturus. Both have direct connections to the planet of Arcturus IV, and both were psychic vampires, so it’s not completely out of the realm of possibility.

    It is interesting that Starhawk was “The One Who Knows”, yet didn’t see their fates coming;-) But I digress…

    Gerber’s story in Adventure into Fear seemed to imply that the woman-child Tara and her Children of the Comet brethren were genetically engineered creations of the Caretakers. However, some later writers described the Children of the Comet as androids. This is most interesting when you consider that Gerber’s other creations, the parents of James Michael Starling, also revealed to be androids.

    Nevertheless, this repeated theme might finally provide a clue on the direction Gerber was intending for Omega the Unknown. That is, was young James meant to be a successful outcome of Project: New Genesis? Think about it for a moment. Tara demonstrated the ability to physically shift her own form into that of her older selves. Was this in essence what James Starling was doing when Omega kept showing up on the scene when the young boy was in peril? Was Omega the older self of James Michael akin to Tara’s adult selves? You’ll recall the Girlchild Tara could create and control a duplicate form of that which she would have as a woman in ten years, as well as the forms she would have at twenty year intervals to any point in her life span. You’ll further recall her demonstrating the ability to psychically shift her own form into those of her older selves.

    But I’m not stopping there…

    Recall another character demonstrating mental abilities that Gerber created… the man-child, Wundarr.

    Does all of this suggest that Gerber was intending to reveal his numerous ‘child’ characters as leftovers of Project: New Genesis?

    Then there is the unsettling connection between the woman-child Tara and the older daughter of Starhawk.

    Was Aleta’s father, Ogord, compelled by the woman-child, Tara, to retrieve the baby, Stakar, from the battlefield and rear him? Or did one of Tara’s adult incarnations survive and escape back to Arcturus where she had a brief liaison with Ogord, leader of the Reavers? Or was Aleta a surviving incarnation of Tara that the Reaver discovered when she too was an infant? Was Ogord originally a Caretaker Tara had manipulated into becoming a Reaver, in much the same way she claimed to have influenced Daemond?

    If Aleta was another possible incarnation of Tara, was her ability to merge with Stakar not in fact a result of the Hawkgod, but perhaps a more advanced form of Tara’s originally presented ability to physically shift her own form into that of her older selves?

    Was Ogord in fact aware of Aleta’s ability and adopted Stakar (aware of the child’s potential to become all-knowing) so he could have Aleta steal the power and use it to aide him in his ongoing quest for power? This might explain why Ogord went on to kidnap his own grandchildren – the offspring of Starhawk – and unleash latent psychic abilities they had perhaps inherited from their mother.

    In fact, Stakar’s appearance on Arcturus could be read as a massive coincidence – or some kind of elaborate set-up. The same could be said for Gerber’s other creation Wundaar, who exhibited characteristics quite different from those of his race, bringing a pacifist message. Were Wundaar, Stakar and James Starling all products of Project: New Genesis it objective to perhaps engineer “gifted” children that would be deposited at critical junctures in societies to help guide them through the hard times? Does this further explain how the infant Stakar showed up on the Arcturan battlefield when he did?

    It has been implied that the Hawkgod statue that transformed Stakar and Aleta into the composite being Starhawk was not built by the Arcturans but that it was placed there by someone unknown. What if Gerber intended to reveal that the island the Enclave created their Citadel of Science on was an abandoned outpost of the Caretakers of Arcturus, and their Beehive was built from the information and/or technology from Project: New Genesis? Recall that similar to Tara, Stakar, Wundaar and Omega, the Enclave create their own man-child, Adam Warlock, who I suspect goes on to become the Hawkgod, exiled to Arcturus to redeem himself and rescue Stakar from Ogord’s plans, thus preventing his becoming the dark expression of the Project like the woman-child Tara before him.

    One more interesting piece of information, considering my earlier discussion of the inclusion of androids in these origins, is how Brutag, one of Ogord’s Reavers of Arcturus, was also an android. Was this another hint left behind by Gerber?

    While we know Selene is a psychic vampire, we have not yet had an origin revealing where she arose. What if she was another of these children from Project: New Genesis? With the child Stakar revealed to be a mutant, if he was another of this project’s subjects this would suggest that mutants perhaps arose from experimentation undertaken by the Caretakers of Arcturus. A much more interesting solution than the Celestials being responsible!

    Interested in your thoughts,
    James.

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  9. James, you've reminded me how disappointing it was when Gerber left the Guardians series and we were denied the resolution of one more story for which he'd spent years developing the groundwork. I'm certain you must be right that Starhawk would have tied in directly with the Caretakers of Arcturus. It seems so obvious now that you've said it!

    I have no idea if this may also be a pointer to what was going on in Omega -- that was one story where I never ever felt capable of second-guessing what was going to happen next. But even if it wasn't intended as a direct link in continuity, at the very least it seems likely to be a thematic continuation of the same general ideas, i.e. "a fallen culture creating a powerful child/children to embody hope for the future elsewhere."

    It'd be great if we could ask him. He'd refuse to answer, of course! In fact, at that convention where I first met Gerber, another fan and I spent well over an hour peppering him with questions about Starhawk -- I think he'd only appeared in Defenders so far and the Guardians series hadn't yet started. He just told us to keep reading and all would be revealed...

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  10. With regard to Omega, I wish he’d have revealed something before crossing over, since despite trying I’ve still been unable to second guess him. I do believe there were more pieces in the puzzle to come, though. I don’t think we can necessarily extrapolate from what's been given, and I don’t think that’s really fair to the story anyway. Mary actually had a more devious mind than Steve, and said with a smile, “Oh, we're just getting started!” If they’d ever gotten the opportunity to write the ending to Omega, I suspect they’d have added more enigmas before they 'solved' it.

    Given Gerber’s implying that the Hawkgod statue was not built by the Arcturans but that it was placed there by someone unknown, I suspect given time he’d have revealed that the island the Enclave created their Citadel of Science on was an abandoned outpost of the Caretakers of Arcturus, and their Beehive was built from the information and/or technology from Project: New Genesis. Recall that similar to Tara, Stakar, Wundaar and Omega, the Enclave create their own man-child, Adam Warlock.

    It is interesting that Eternity, jealous of Adam Warlock’s eventual possession of the Infinity Gems, had him called before the Living Tribunal, who ruled against Warlock, seeing to it that the gems do not work as one, thus forcing Adam to forsake his godhood.

    Now recall the Hawk-God being banished to Arcturus IV where he waited for Stakar to activate him. He was at one time implicated in the genocide of the Watchers and was sent back in time to stand as a statue in an abandoned city on Arcturus IV. Whatever the story, he stood there for at least two hundred years until Stakar and Aleta found him. He also constantly attempted to prove to Eternity and the Living Tribunal all the good he had supposedly accomplished through his Starhawks, and he didn’t like Eternity very much.

    This leads me to believe that Gerber intended the Hawk-God to be Adam Warlock. Their skins were the colour of shining gold and Adam’s golden staff was topped by a hawk’s head (with beak and large feathered ears similar to the Hawk-God).

    The incident of Warlock’s wholly derivative crucifixion and resurrection might provide a further clue. That is, the cross to which Adam was nailed was an ankh, the symbol of life Horus, the Egyptian god of light whose head is also that of a hawk, held in his right hand.

    Why else would the Hawk-God feel he had to justify himself to Eternity and the Living Tribunal? Is he exiled to Arcturus where he has to redeem himself and rescue Stakar from Ogord’s plans, thus preventing Stakar becoming the dark expression of the Project like the woman-child Tara before him?

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