History Begins, Volume One

OMNI is the most invincible, incredible, amazing, and mighty superhero the world has ever known. He can hold a nebula in the palm of his hand and bodysurf on the sun without getting a blister. For fun he even learned Aramaic so he could travel back in time to chat with Jesus. In short, OMNI (typeset in all-caps for maximum God of Thunder voltage) is an omnipotent meteor puncher.

But there’s one problem. OMNI has been MIA for thirty years. And in that time, a riot of supervillains has been sharpening their claws waiting for the perfect opportunity to take over the world. Thirty years. That’s a long time to be missing in action. And thirty years is a long time to be sharpening claws. It’s no wonder this book is thicker than a Robert Jordan omnibus.

Actually, the novel is less about OMNI and more about a bunch of kids attending superhero boot camp. As the young recruits are learning how to marshal their burgeoning super powers, the bad guys decide to come out of retirement and strike. Recognizing their place in history, the kids strap on their riot gear and get to work.

The writing here is mostly declarative, with lots of exposition, stage direction, backstory and lecturing. This makes the bulk of the book a tad tedious (to say the least). OMNI: History Begins is a self-published venture and it desperately needs a professional line edit and several rewrites. We read a lot of indie and self-published books here at SuperheroNovels.com, and we’re generally a forgiving bunch, but there’s no way this novel should be as long as it is. Only a handful of authors can produce a 360,000-word manuscript without a little editorial input.

That said, however, things get a whole lot better (for the reader) when Vector and his Injustice League blow up the Alpha Academy and declare war on the entire world. Vector is a great character. As a young man he was OMNI’s apprentice and a member of the first elite superhero team. But now as a supervillain he’s raging against the hypocritical superhero machine. Vector is great in a Loki/Magneto sort of way, and he definitely makes OMNI more interesting. We’re curious to see how these two archrivals “resolve” their conflicts in the future.

There are other interesting characters in the book too—most notably Darkspeed and Olympian. Both of these youngsters are informed (tainted?) by their family lineage. And because of this, they are the most compelling heroes of the bunch. You could even make an argument that Darkspeed (rather than Cosmos) should be the story’s protagonist. Without a doubt, OMNI and his progeny are an important part of this epic. The title of the book makes that perfectly clear. But the Mormon speedster is the one guy who provides a unique perspective into both OMNI and Vector. In other words, he brings scale and context to the larger-than-life superhero battles that surround him. Imagine if the events of this book were seen primarily through his eyes? That’s a book we’d like to read. Can we get a rewrite?

[OMNI: History Begins / By Joe Graham / First Printing: June 2009 / ISBN: 9780615228846]

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