Review: Omni #1 (Humanoids/H1)

Humanoid/H1 titles seem to be getting the lion sharel of our attention in the Pipedream office this month, with big name creators and a new shared universe garnering interest in this new batch of titles. So far, we have checked out both Ignited and Strangelands but now see what Omni, about a super smart doctor investigating this new phenomenon, brings to the table.

Publisher: Humanoids/H1
Writer: Devin Grayson, Carla Speed McNeil (Backup feature)
Artist: Alitha E. Martinez (Art), Meredith Laxton (Backup Art), Bryan Valenza (Colours), Lee Loughridge (Backup colours), A Larger World Studios (Letters)
Price: £2.49/$3.99 at Comixology

Omni follows the story of Dr Cecelia Cobbina, a physician working with Doctors Without Borders in Central Africa. However, Cecelia’s life undergoes a dramatic change when armed gunman barge into her clinic, demanding she save their comrade at gunpoint. It is at this moment, under the extreme stress of trying to save a young boy while having a gun held to her head, that Cecelia ‘Ignites’, gaining a fantastical new ability much like many others throughout the world. Now, after using her new power of knowing everything, Cecelia and her friend/Assistant, Mae, begin their journey to find others who have ignited and help them with their new abilities. But can this dynamic duo discover the reasons behind these changes to the planet and their true meanings at the same time?

Devin Grayson has put together a deeply captivating and highly enjoyable opening issue of Omni. Providing an origin told in flashbacks, we are introduced to Cecelia and Mae from the beginning, leaving no mystery to her story in comparison to Humanoid’s other two opening title. However, that’s not to say that mystery isn’t there, for the premise as told in the opening scrawl indicates it is there, but this issue is purely for set up and introduction, which Grayson pulls off superbly. Both leads of Cecelia and Mae are presented in the form of a typical partnership dynamic, evoking contrasting personalities to each other. Whereas Cecelia is rather cold, abrasive and professional in a Gregory House sort of way given her profession, Mae is much more approachable, friendly and, seemingly, optimistic. This dynamic works well given that this is very much Cecelia’s story told from the perspective of Mae. That said, this title, much like it’s sister books, again provides its lead with another unique power set that is almost an extension to her personality, continuing to give this world an intriguingly unique twist.

Meanwhile, Alitha E. Martinez provides Omni’s opening instalment with a beautiful set of visuals which, once again, looks remarkably similar to Ignited and Strangelands, continuing that sense of universal visual consistency. However, unlike with both of those titles, Martinez does break from this to show her own flair with the Africa flashback scene, which has a slight, almost grainy tint as if it’s being seen through a video camera. This helps sell the idea of it being a past event while also differentiating between the then and now just enough not to jar readers. That said, it’s Martinez and colourist Bryan Valenza’s initial reveal of Cecelia’s new power in this scene which is truly the breakout of the title as we see multiple ‘ghostly’ Cecelia’s littered through the room in a double page scene acquiring all of her information. This scene is just incredible to look at and really gives an idea of this power set better than any explanation could have, with a later colour-coding utilized with the lettering to help build upon it.

Humanoids/H1 have certainly come out of the gate strong with their opening line of comics, but this title seems to have inched ahead of the pack. WIth an intriguing concept introduced so captivatingly and wonderfully colourful visuals, Omni is a comic which is the best of both worlds as it connects to the larger universe but tells its own story. The only question is how long it can straddle that line, but it certainly makes you want to come back and find out.