In the film Blue Beetle, one of the major plot points has Victoria Kord (Susan Sarandon), CEO of Kord Industries, attempting to make a highly sophisticated army that integrates man and machine. They were called OMAC, short for “One Man Army Corps.” The project was conceived of by her missing brother Ted Kord, who was once the Blue Beetle himself. But he abandoned it, realizing the danger it posed. Later, Victoria revived it, for her own nefarious ends. But the OMAC has a long history at DC Comics, both as a hero, and also as many, many villains.
Buddy Blank, the Original ’70s OMAC
As with many important pieces of comics lore, it all began with Jack Kirby. In the early ‘70s, Jack Kirby famously left Marvel Comics to work for rival DC, where he created iconic characters like Darkseid and the New Gods. But he also created a lesser-known character that would blossom into a prominent DC fixture. This character was OMAC—the One Man Army Corps. His adventures took place in the near future of the DC Universe. Kirby conceived OMAC as a Captain America type for DC. OMAC was originally Buddy Black, a nobody employee who worked for the Global Peace Agency. He volunteered for the OMAC Project to be their soldier. An A.I. satellite with the name Brother Eye conducted a “computer-hormonal operation via remote control” transforming Buddy into the OMAC.
Buddy would interface with the Brother Eye satellite, through an invisible beam to his receiver belt. When this happened, he’d get several super powers via this unique method of molecular rearrangement. He had superhuman strength, as well as flight and super speed. He could repair his own injuries, having a healing factor of a sort. OMAC also had a degree of energy projection powers. And he had one fierce mohawk. The GPA would send OMAC as its primary response agent during a crisis. Sadly, OMAC only fought a few battles. His series only lasted eight issues, and they canceled it when Jack Kirby left DC to go back to Marvel. (This version of OMAC also looks just like Gladiator from Marvel’s Shi’ar Empire. Fun fact.)
The OMAC Project in the 2000s Changes the Original Concept
For the next several decades, OMAC made very sporadic appearances in the DC Universe. He had backup stories in the science-fantasy Warlord series, and then in 1991, writer/artist John Byrne did a four-part OMAC limited series. Other than that, OMAC was more or less a footnote in DC Comics’ history. Then, in the 2000s, DC reinvented OMAC in a big way for the modern DCU. During the 2005/2006 event Infinite Crisis, OMAC went from “One Man Army Corps” to “Observational Meta-human Activity Construct,” and later, “Omni Mind And Community.” Long gone were the days of the heroic OMAC. These OMACS and Brother Eye became genuine threats to the DC Universe.
During the lead-up to Infinite Crisis, they reinvented OMACs as the brainchild of the secret organization known as Checkmate. They created an OMAC virus under the leadership of their Black King, former Justice League International financier Maxwell Lord. Using Checkmate’s vast resources, he hijacked Batman’s Brother Eye satellite, which Bruce Wayne used as a surveillance system across the globe to spy on metahumans. With Brother Eye under Lord’s control, they use infected human drones to neutralize metahuman threats everywhere on Earth. And ultimately, not just metahuman threats, but just metahumans in general. This virus was something the US Government gained from alien Brainiac technology.
OMAC Goes from One Hero to Many Villains
This legion of OMACs were cyborgs, humans with bodies altered by the nano-virus. As a nod to Jack Kirby’s original OMAC, Buddy Blank, these new OMACs kept the mohawk and Brother Eye symbol on their chests. The Brother Eye AI became sentient, thanks to the manipulations of Alexander Luthor, the son of the Lex Luthor of Earth-3. Now technically alive, it took the combined efforts of Batman and several heroes, including the Jaime Reyes version of Blue Beetle, to destroy it. One OMAC drone survived, a man named Michael Costner. He retained his individuality and actually became a hero, bringing OMAC full circle.
Blue Beetle Reinvents the OMAC for the Big Screen
In Blue Beetle, the OMACs retain their original acronym—the One Man Army Corps. They were a program of highly advanced robotic armor, originally created by Ted Kord, the second Blue Beetle. He ultimately abandoned the program, realizing how easily others might use it for evil. But when he disappeared, his sister Victoria Kord (Susan Sarandon) revived the OMAC Project. She was hoping to use the alien Scarab to perfect the OMACs, creating a functioning high-tech world police force that she could control.
In the film, Victoria Kord’s agent, Ignacio Carapax, had his robot armor explained as being the final form of an OMAC suit, combining his mythology from the comics together with the OMACs from the 2000s era comics. On Pago Island, Blue Beetle Jaime Reyes and his family destroy the OMAC tech, destroying any chance they could ever be used again. But in the comics, the OMAC tech is notoriously hard to destroy for good. Who knows, it might pop up in James Gunn’s new DCU. And if it does, this time, we want some mohawks.