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Tom King Discusses Kyle Rayner's Future and OMEGA MEN

The writer of the new DC series gets in-depth about the comic's style and science fiction

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The OMEGA MEN series started off with a bang... that "bang" being the death of Kyle Rayner. Writer Tom King, artist Barnaby Bagenda, and colorist Romulo Fajardo Jr are bringing this team to the forefront and offering readers something quite different. King talked to us about the series and where it's headed recently.

COMIC VINE: What's going on in this new series?

TOM KING: Ha. A lot. As much as we can shove in there for your hard earned $2.99. A group of extremist rebels, The Omega Men, has kidnapped the Green Lantern, Kyle Rayner. They have a plan to use Kyle in some way to defeat the cruel Citadel empire. To carry out this plan they’re going to push at the limits of both morality and mortality. It’s an epic, brutal Space Opera set at the heart of the DCU.

I think that generally covers it.

CV: As of the last issue, Kyle Rayner is now a member of the Omega Men. What types of challenges do you face writing a character who has not only saved the universe, but died twice?

KING: Hmmm. Has it only been twice? Seems like more.

It’s possible to think of Kyle as Hal Jordan light – a sort of anarchistic super hero that tried to take the throne as THE Green-Lantern and failed because he couldn’t capture people’s imagination as Hal did. In this version he’s basically a place holder whose place no longer needs holding; he’s one of those dudes at the Oscars who has to sit in Jack Nicholson’s seat while he goes to the bathroom. And then Nicholson comes back. What does that dude do next? And do you care?

The reward of writing Kyle is to realize that this problem is what make him interesting, makes him unique in the DCU. Kyle is not the celebrity sitting in the first row. And neither are we. Kyle is us. Unlike every green lantern, he wasn’t chosen for his special specialness. He’s just a guy who was leaving a club and an alien gave him a ring and said save the universe, to take on the mission of the greatest of lanterns. What would that do to you? How would you respond? And after you did, after you saved the universe, died twice trying to save it again, realized that there were others who could take your place, would you go on, would you keep fighting? I’ve seen a lot of movies about people like Jack Nicholson. I think I’m ready for one about the guy in the chair.

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CV: What type of headspace is Kyle in right now?

KING: We’ll get in deep on this in issue four. But it’s safe to say that he’s being pushed to a psychological place he’s never been before. Kyle is the white Lantern who fights the Blackest night, and in Omega Men we’re throwing him into a world of gray. This will upend his assumptions about what it means to be a Lantern, to be good. And when your assumptions are upended, when you find yourself on ground that moves in a way ground isn’t supposed to move, this is when you either rise or fall. This series is about what Kyle will do next as the ground shifts beneath him.

CV: Now that you've both been working on the book for a while, do either of you find yourself particularly drawn to any of these characters over the others?

KING: I love writing Scrapps. In a series of dark moments and dark themes, she keeps it light. She gives me the chance to write those Indiana Jones “Bad Dates” comedic moments, which are essential to any drama. In the end, to me, comics are about joy; they’re not about these great philosophies or fancy writer ambitions (about which I’m always waxing rather unpoetically). Comics are about the pleasure of taking a moment out of your crazy day to escape a bit into another world. Scrapps is the joy of Omega Men.

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CV: One thing that really stands out with OMEGA MEN, is the cinematic style it's presented in and how the book focuses on beats in a 9 panel page layout. What made both of you go this route for the book?

KING: It’s a few things. First I wanted to pay tribute to two of my favorite comics of all time, Watchmen and Five Year Later Legion, both of which are written on a nine panel grid. Second, the nine panel grid gives us more control over the story beats, which lets us put more information in the comic than twenty pages would normally allow. In a book with so much exposition (The six worlds of Vega plus the Citadel plus the Omega Men plus Kyle), it is important that we convey a ton of info without bogging the reader down in boring talky talk or captiony caption. Finally, we’re trying to pull off something big with the layouts that will pay off in issue 12. Not sure we can do it, but with the grid, we have a chance.

CV: Are their science fiction films that inspired either of you for this the look and feel of this book?

KING: I think Star Wars is so ingrained in my generation that we no longer have to say it influences us. It’s like saying your fingers influence you when you’re typing. That’s just how you type. Or (second analogy! Writing!), it’s sort of like medieval Christian writers; everything they put out had to react to the bible. Every sci fi thing we do, I think has to react to Star Wars, reflect it and rebel against it. But…I’m also a huge Star Trek fan (I’m a rather large nerd); I think you’ll see bits of those movies here, especially 2 and 6. In addition, I think you’ll see the influence of Aliens on issue 1 and some upcoming issues.

It’s probably also worth noting, that I’m a classic Westerns fan. To me Westerns were the Science Fiction and Super Hero movies of the early and mid 20th century. I think you’ll see the influence of John Ford, Howard Hawks, and Anthony Mann Westerns, movies like Ft. Apache, The Searchers, Red River, and The Naked Spur.

CV: What can you tease coming down the line for this series?

KING: I think the biggest thing is, as we go forward, we’ll start to see how this series will impact the larger DCU. In a way Omega Men as a book is a bomb set in the middle of the DC Universe. When it goes off, there will be some damage.

Thanks to Tom King for answering our questions and make sure to check out OMEGA MEN #3 on sale Wednesday, August 4.

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