Saturday, October 25, 2008
Omega the Unknown by Jonathan Lethem
Omega the Unknown by Jonathan Lethem (with Karl Rusnik) is an enigmatic revisitation of an old Marvel comic that had a brief but impacting run in the ‘70s. I only say this because of the endnote discussion at the end of the book, sort of a contributors commentary like one would find on a dvd. Personally, I’d never heard of Omega the Unknown so I came into this collection of ten comics with a blissful ignorance. The story pulls no punches as the action begins immediately and then cuts to a more domestic scene with Titus Alexander Island and his parents. There are three plots, weaving together, overlaying one another, and ultimately converging and Lethem and Rusnik have done a wonderful job of making a potentially dated comic and making it feel contemporary. I am not sure I fully appreciate the subtext of the comic, however. The graphics are well-suited but not very exciting except for an occasional frame and a few “graphics within graphics” moment that stand out beautifully. I am grateful to Lethem and Rusnik for the contextual information at the end of this book. I have to agree with them that much of the story would probably not been an easy read for comic book audiences at the time. In fact, relating the original comic (and perhaps their own version providing a conclusion for the previous inconclusive original) to such iconic shows as The Prisoner and The Twilight Zone is honest and relevant. Ultimately, while I enjoyed the collection, I strongly suspect that had I stumbled into these comics individually I would not have had the patience nor desire to read all ten books. Having read all ten, I don’t feel compelled to reread them to get a better grasp of whatever subtext I may have overlooked. Ironically, my feelings toward the book are rather unknown. I like what I read. Didn’t love it. Could have lived without reading it. Still intend on reading Lethem’s Fortress of Solitude someday soon.