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Omega the Unknown

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  908 ratings  ·  137 reviews
The story of a mute, reluctant super hero from another planet, and the earthly teenager with whom he shares a strange destiny - and the legion of robots and nanoviruses that have been sent from afar to hunt the two of them down!
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published September 24th 2008 by Marvel (first published 2008)
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3.61  · 
Rating details
 ·  908 ratings  ·  137 reviews

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J.G. Keely
Aug 26, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: reviewed, capes, comics
As a child, Lethem was one of the many who were touched by a strange, singular, prescient comic called 'Omega the Unknown', which prefigured the psychological depth, realism, and genre deconstruction of the early Vertigo titles (my review here). As a successful adult, Lethem desired to return to the source of his inspiration, and to make it his own, which he certainly did, but I'm not entirely enthusiastic about the way he went about it.

Lethem decided to rewrite an iconic piece of cult comic his
Jon(athan) Nakapalau
I love when a minor SH gets a 'remake' and added dimension from a writer/artist who starts all over. Jonathan Lethem does a fantastic job of adding a 'Stepford Wives' feel to all of society; reminded me a lot of Stanley Milgram's 'familiar stranger' and how we interact with each other.
Farel Dalrymple's art meshes well with this claustrophobic tale of identity and sum ergo cognito.
Aug 03, 2011 rated it it was ok
Maybe it's just because I'm not familiar with the original series, but this seemed really... underdone. Also pretentious, but I'd be okay with that if it were either more intellectually rigorous, or more action-packed. Being neither, it just feels boring. The art is rather dull as well -- the lack of expressiveness weakens the effect of the robotic and otherwise emotionally stilted characters by decreasing their contrast with the "normal" ones.
Nicolo Yu
Jan 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: collected-comics
This was a trippy comic book. It attempted to merge Jonathan Lethem's literary sensibilities and Farel Dalrymple's edgy line art. Their collaboration birthed a graphic novel unlike I ever read. It's a love letter to the original series by Steve Gerber and Jim Mooney while maintaining the artistic identity of the current creators. Trippy it is.

This is a book better read in a collected edition as it is paced as a true graphic novel. I like how Marvel allowed a whole lot of creative leeway in desig
Stewart Tame
Aug 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
So it would appear to be something of a trend to have "real" writers write comics. That is to say, writers best known for their prose, not comics writing, have been increasingly visible in the graphic novel market. It's not a bad thing, just unusual in my experience. Obviously writing for comics requires a slightly different skill set from writing novels and essays and so on, but if it's something they want to do, by all means ... come on in! The water's fine.

So Johnathan Lethem is a fan of Stev
Jul 25, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: and, graphic-novels, 2009
Omega: The Unknown isn't badly done, but it suffers from "Squid in the Mouth" Syndrome. If you don't know what that means, look here (, under Part Two: Paragraphs and Prose Structure.

This graphic novel gets three stars because there's lots of stuff to like. I enjoyed The Mink, and the way the robots spread their robotness to human beings. The main character was basically raised by a pair of vacuum cleaners, and is utterly monotone and boring. That's ok,
Apr 20, 2016 rated it liked it
Didn't particularly hate it, didn't love it. Dalrymple's art is, as always, amazing. And I liked Lethem's story. But it lacked any motivation on the part of the characters. Almost as if they were caricatures of something else, but I'm not quite sure what. Part of the distance I felt was due to the formalized prose throughout. Very few people spoke like actual people - some of this was intentional, to show that a person was a robot or alien in disguise, I get that. But there was little to differe ...more
Aug 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: comics-and-manga
Great fun, essential for Lethem fans, especially those (like me) who got hooked early on books like Amnesia Moon and The Wall of the Sky, the Wall of the Eye. A bit reminiscent of the terrific anime series FLCL. Highly recommended.
Mattia Ravasi
Jun 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Video review:

Its head occasionally wanders a little bit too close to its bottom, but Omega's still an amazing reflection on the superhero genre, and on the dynamics of power and oppression in today's society. With robots! Pew pew!
Joe Kraus
Sep 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Jonathan Lethem has made a career of giving “low brow” material literary attention and, conversely, of bringing seemingly disposable pop cultural references into work that’s as excellent as any literature anyone’s writing. He’s like the kid who wears a tuxedo t-shit to the prom (and pulls it off), and he’s also the guy who, wearing a real tuxedo at a literary soiree, accessorizes with tennis shoes. (That’s a metaphor, by the way – he has done neither to my knowledge.) In other words, the line be ...more
Jul 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Novelist Jonathan Lethem, cartoonist Farel Dalrymple, and some special guests (including Gary Panter!) go to town on a mostly-forgotten Steve Gerber concept. Lethem's script smartly mixes Bronze Age Marvel with Philip K. Dick, and the artwork is scratchy and evocative.
Nov 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars...though perhaps this would increase with additional readings.

My understanding is that the MacArthur Fellows Grant ("genius" award) gave Lethem a bit of creative time and space to choose his next project and the inclusion of comics in Fortress of Solitude provided an opening to work with Marvel Comics. (I don't have any real details, so will not add any other presumptions.)

Here is what I know. Several years ago I was standing in a bookstore in New York City several years ago with the h
Printable Tire
Jan 06, 2013 rated it liked it
I wasn't sure I'd like this: I usually don't like boy-genius stories, or stories of precocious autistic kids (in other words, I usually don't like Wes Anderson). And Jonathan Lethem hasn't really been tested out on me yet, as I've only read his first novel and Amnesia Moon many years ago (who knows how much of this he actually wrote but that's another story).

But I really liked the hipstery art and coloring, and the whole book is a great package of neat design. And the story is a really odd one t
Tobin Elliott
Aug 23, 2016 rated it did not like it
Well this was a particularly odious pile of shit. This isn't even a "DNF," this is a no-way-in-hell-I'm-going-to-waste-my-time-can't-be-bothered-to-finish.

The art was crap. But that's fine. I can deal with a particular style--even if I'm not crazy about it--if it fits the storyline.

But the storyline was garbage. Omega is barely in it, and really plays no particular role. The new kid has no redeeming features. The Mink is absolutely irritating, and when his hand goes rogue, it was almost the end.
Feb 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: comics
I blew through this one--could not put it down. The best superhero comic I've read in years, but then I am not a regular superhero comic fan; more like Alan Moore and Jeffrey Brown's Bighead. This is apparently a fairly faithful take-off from the original series with an updated setting and modified plot.

The storytelling in this book is superb. Lethem manages to avoid a lot of the problems that could befall novelists who venture into comics and takes good advantage of the form. I also really like
Oct 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: comix
This is another one that got off to a slower start, but really grew on me as I read it and become more involved with the plot. While sometimes it can feel a little bit overwritten and over-literary (there are clear links between this and Watchmen), I did find myself wanting to know what would happen to the characters and intellectually engaged. I also really appreciate how lovingly they reworked the original material which was the inspiration for this book, as reflected in the interviews at the ...more
Lars Guthrie
May 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
Jonathan Lethem remembers a trippy and obscure Marvel comic from the seventies and apparently uses it as a take off point for his own trippy and obscure comic. He's successful. Plot lines that seem unconnected twist and merge in this ultimate deconstruction of the superhero genre. Very clever.
Carl Waluconis
Mar 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Interested in a unique super hero
This graphic novel has a unique place in the history of comics. There was a period when a few artists and writers made a focussed effort to create comics that would offer more than slam-bang entertainment. One of them was Steve Gerber, who deserves a biography. His most famous creation was Howard the Duck, though Man-Thing was often amazing (though competing with Alan Moore's Swamp Thing). Near the end of his career, Gerber completed a short run on Omega the Unknown, an alien. The first issue is ...more
Dec 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Reprints Omega the Unknown (Limited Series) #1-10 (December 2007-September 2008). Titus Alexander Island is raised and schooled by his parents, but suffers dreams of a man called Omega. When Alexander’s parents are killed in an accident, Alexander finds they are robots. Placed in the custody of a hospital worker and now finding himself in New York City, Alexander finds difficulty fitting in. Alexander works to adjust to his new life, and the being called Omega finds himself in the city being hun ...more
Mar 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Pretty intense graphic novel of a totally different style than most. Lethem is one of the best, and I felt a little of the Fortress of Solitude in this book, and Motherless Brooklyn, and he totally nailed it. The art was great, the story original, and it makes me want more of these types of stories. I wonder what this would be like if it was a novel, and not a graphic novel... My only criticism (and it's more about my reading than the story itself) is I was a little confused on the ending with A ...more
Jul 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I know what you're asking: how can I review a book that isn't coming out until October? Well, I have already read 9/10ths of it in its "original form" (the tenth issue has yet to appear, as of this writing), and I can say with some confidence that this is the best comic I've read in quite some time. It's also easily the best fusion of the "traditional superhero" and the "alternative" I've ever seen. Oh, and it's hilarious to boot.

I don't know how the book will handle the small sad fact that two
Bryson Kopf
A book completely out of left field from Marvel, a publisher not really known for edgy indie-styled books (unlike DC's Vertigo line) remixing a long forgotten 1970s series by the legendary Steve Gerber. The plot is pretty dense, an odd boy, Alex, is taken to his first day of school but is attacked by robots. His parents get killed, and are revealed to also be robots; meanwhile, a mysterious superhero lurks in the background, springing into action to help smash more robots. There is a few main id ...more
Dec 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Add this to the list of comics from over the last year that seemingly came out of nowhere and began as impulse buys only to quickly rise in my estimation above pretty much everything. Sure Jonathan Lethem is my literary homey with the OG Carroll Gardens/Boerum Hill comic-loving chops, but he only co-wrote this and the whole thing is a nostalgic re-imaging of a beloved 70s series I never read, so I was very unsure this was something I'd get into. Boy was I wrong! The fact that Marvel published th ...more
Tyler Hill
Aug 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2010
This is an amazing little comic that skews the superhero genre just enough to make it seem new and fresh again, and flirts with true greatness. It's hard to get into details since, as you might expect from a story who's title contains the word "unknown," half the fun is figuring out what it going on for yourself. But, Lethem and Rusnak weave a story the mixes super-heroics, teen-mystery, alien conspiracy, strange science and plethora of narrative devices in a way that does seem truly unique. Dal ...more
Mar 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One of the best graphic novels I've read in a long time. Solid plot twists, interesting characters, and a great ending. Also, for a super hero book, the concept seemed fresh and original.
Jul 28, 2011 added it
Shelves: graphic-novels
This book was a hot mess that I struggled through, until eventually giving up half way through. And I never give up on books, particularly graphic novels. The combo of existentialism, mute superheros, and wtf robots just did not work for me. Somewhere out there is the right reader for this book. But that person is NOT me.
Mar 30, 2013 rated it liked it
Darymple can draw like a bat out of hell, and is in top form here. But Lethem's story just didn't get my motor running, and convincing me of the worth of a forgotten freak-o superhero shouldn't be that difficult.
Ill D
May 04, 2012 rated it did not like it
Let me preface my review with two comments, one positive, and the other negative, the latter will set the stage and colour for this review and will serve as a segue into my analysis. First, the art is well done. It's warm, inviting, and in someways, kinda hearkens back to the inky style of the Golden Age of Comics; a simpler time, which as I later found out was which the original "Omega the Unknown" attempted to do - what would seem to be a tribute by Lethem - instead comes across as an inconsid ...more
What a strange book this was. It starts slow and is confusing as fuck for the first couple of chapters. Once it starts to become apparent what's real and what isn't, around chapter 3 or 4, it gets a lot more engaging and enjoyable. Amazingly, this story takes place in the Marvel universe, and in Manhattan no less. But other than one reference to the Baxter Building and another to the Avengers, the characters and plot seem to exist on their own, isolated and unknown to anyone you might be familia ...more
Jan 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: justok
I really thought I would like this more as a re-imagining of Gerber's original story. But I was a bit disappointed. The art, although a bit of an acquired taste, is really good, but it does have an underground comix feel to it. This is not a bad thing. In fact using a mainstream Marvel artist would have hurt the story. Where this really fell flat was what Lethem did with the characters. None of them act like real people. Their personalities and the way they react to things did not feel genuine. ...more
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Jonathan Allen Lethem (born February 19, 1964) is an American novelist, essayist and short story writer.

His first novel, Gun, with Occasional Music, a genre work that mixed elements of science fiction and detective fiction, was published in 1994. It was followed by three more science fiction novels. In 1999, Lethem published Motherless Brooklyn, a National Book Critics Circle Award-winning novel t