Spooktoberfest Special: A Lesser Known Power of the Vampire

Despite the fact that they’re one of the most common characters in horror literature, nobody can seem to agree on what a vampire can actually do.

Sure, Stoker’s Dracula lays out the standards that everyone else works from, and while the legend certainly allows for flexibility–Count Dracula himself is a far cry from the earlier conception of the vampire, after all–the vampire fiction that we’ve gotten since diverges to the point of outright contradiction.

The first casualty is often the weakness to running water, but there are stories like Bite Club where even daylight doesn’t present much of a problem with a strong enough sunblock, and as much as I’ve been enjoying the Dresden Files books, I’m not even sure if we’re talking about vampires anymore if you take away the whole part where they drink blood. The abilities, too, are a gray area. Most everyone agrees that they’re strong, but they tend to vacillate between painfully beautiful and hideously ugly, and while the shape-shifting and animal control abilities are right there in the Monster Manual, Buffy dismisses them as a bunch of “gypsy tricks.”

And even worse, there’s almost always a glaring omission from the Vampire skill set:




And really, why do all these vampire stories insist on trotting out the old neck-biting cliché when it’s well within the power of the Nosferatu to create minions from halfway across the world?



PLEASE NOTE: The preceding information is only applicable to vampires from Transilvane, the miniature planet so evil that the planet itself has devil horns.



Seriously. You should hear their metal.


You can learn more about the vampires and other assorted monsters of the Planet Transilvane in the pages of Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #142, conveniently reprinted in the absolutely essential Jack Kirby’s Fourth World Omnibus, Vol. 2.

The World That’s Coming Revisited!

August 28th is Jack Kirby’s Birthday, and rather than go with my usual tribute post–because really, I said about all I can about the guy with last year’s–I thought I might take the opportunity to revisit one of my favorites because hey, it worked out pretty well last time.

Anyway, I’ll be honest with you: When I was a kid, I did not like Kirby. I remember picking up the first few issues of X-Men: The Early Years when I was around thirteen and thinking that the art and character designs were just awful. To be fair, those early X-Men issues aren’t Jack’s best work, and when you stack them up against other stuff he was doing at the time, you can tell that his heart’s not in it the way it was for stuff like Fantastic Four. Still, even before then, his work turned me off.

Or to be more accurate, it scared the hell out of me.

I must’ve been about six or seven when I got a copy of Captain America #195, from Jack’s mid-70s return to the title. It was the first Marvel Comic I’d ever read, and until I hit the seventh grade and was issued my mandatory copy of Amazing Spider-Man #33, it was the last one. I should probably explain here that when I was a kid, I took things way too seriously, and when I saw this…


(Click to enlarge)



The weird, distorted figures, the floating head with the hangman on the American flag, the mob of people driven to murderous frenzy and tearing the “Freedom Freak” effigy limb from limb… it blew young Chris’s mind to the point where even today, I’m always surprised when I grab the trade off the shelf and find out that they aren’t huge splash panels.

Of course, it didn’t scare me away for that long, and from what I’ve heard from friends of mine, it wasn’t an unusual experience. Not the part about being scared by an issue of Captain America–that one, it seems, was just me–but just not understanding what the big deal was with Kirby until the one magic summer where you all the sudden realize that holy crap Jack Kirby is awesome.

For me, it was the New Gods that won me over, but that wasn’t the book that made me the die-hard fan I am today. No… that was this guy:




For those of you unfamiliar with him–and if you’ve been reading the ISB for any considerable length of time, this cannot possibly apply to you–OMAC is the One-Man Army Corps, who polices The World That’s Coming with the help of an all-powerful satellite named Brother Eye that uses “electro-hormone surgery” to give him super-powers and the greatest mohawk in comics history.

That’s right, I said greatest. Suck it, Mr. T and the T-Force.

Anyway, with all that I talk about OMAC, it occurs to me that I rarely talk about anything past the third page of #2–because really, once you’ve seen those dudes try to keep OMAC out of that city even though he straight up told ’em he was going in , what else is there?–so instead of going back to the City of the Super-Rich tonight, I’m going to focus on this one:



OMAC #4’s The Busting of a Conqueror, wherein OMAC follows up the previous issue’s act of fighting a literal One Hundred Thousand Foes by dragging a “little Hitler” called Kirovan Kafka downtown, which in this case is represented by a criminal court at the top of Mount Everest.

And that’s the thing: For all its huge Kirby concepts and bravura that go into it, the World That’s Coming is unique among comic book futures for the simple fact that it’s not the shiny paradise of Legion of Super-Heroes or the grim, terrible dystopia of… well, also of Legion of Super-Heroes. Instead, the setting Kirby gives us is a world that, once you get past the shock of his designs, is one that we can believe is coming because for the most part, it’s already here.

He takes everything that could go wrong with technology and all the fears that go along with a world where the ability to destroy every bit of life on the planet is at hand and just extrapolates it out to the fantastic–with stories of artificial water shortages and plastic surgery gone crazy as the rich pursue eternal youth–and gives us a hero who has to act alone because a full-scale war is just too dangerous. In essence, it’s the world we live in, but with giant green robo-tanks.

And that’s why we need a lawman like this:



So back to the story: OMAC brings in Kafka to face trial at the Top of the World, but when the would-be dictator keeps going on and on about an alleged “avenger” coming to rescue him from his court date, OMAC heads out in a jet and..

Well just check this radness out:


“Animal, mineral or vegetable? It could be all three!


But wait.

It gets better.



Yes: In order to bring a criminal to justice in the World That’s Coming, OMAC has to take out a giant purple fire-breathing nuclear insect monster.

And that is why I love Jack Kirby.

The Only Review You Need This Week





That’s right, folks: This week saw the release of Jack Kirby’s OMAC in DC’s Omnibus format, and I’ve got to say: It’s absolutely gorgeous.

As you can tell from the cover above, it was designed along the same lines as Fourth World books, and while I would’ve liked to see a cover with OMAC hurling a dismembered sex doll at the reader–since, you know, that’s what’s on the cover to #1–the recolored version of the color to #6 just pops right out with the action that’s typical of the series.

Plus, just like the Fourth World books, the cover beneath the dust-jacket is a huge blowup of the original page:



As for the content… Well, I’ve made my feelings about OMAC pretty clear over the years, and while the Fourth World stories are probably his best work, it’s not much of a stretch to say that OMAC is my favorite Jack Kirby comic, and definitely one of my favorite series of all time. And while it has the same lightweight paper as the Fourth World books–which, incidentally, they avoided with the all-glossy, all-awesome Starman Omnibus–getting a vibrant, hardcover treatment of pages like this



…just makes me happy.

Still, despite the top-notch presentation, I’m sad to say that the OMAC Omnibus is still incomplete. The issues are all there–although the Starlin stories from Warlord and the DC Comics Presents issue are still uncollected in trade–but unfortunately, it lacks the text pieces that ran in the original series.

That might seem like a pretty small thing, but to be honest, the text piece in #1 is one of my favorite parts of the series, if only to see how precient Kirby really was:

You and I know darn well that we’re eating hamburgers and drinking milk shakes in a world where missiles are hunting missiles, where people are cruising 12,000 feet below the sea, and computers in Chicago are exchanging the time of day with computers in New York.

Any hatful of concepts today would flip out Captain Nemo and turn Dr. Frankenstein into a depressed catatonic.

Think about OMAC: If fantasy can become reality, what kind of man will it take to contend with the World That’s Coming?

Aside from the text piece in Devil Dinosaur–which, by the way, is included in that omnibus–where Kirby said that he was depicting historical fact right before the aliens showed up to fight the cavemen and super-dinosaurs, it’s probably my favorite thing he ever wrote.

So, as a service to you, the burgeoning OMAC fan, allow me to present the text piece from OMAC #1 in its entirety:


(Click to Brother-Eye size it)




Reviews for the rest of the week’s comics will be up tomorrow. Not only did pretty much EVERYTHING come out this week, but despite what you may have heard from Godless heathen Canadians, comics shipped a day late.