The previous volumes have built up quite a collection of characters and story arcs, and so there’s a lot going on here – the book opens with portraits of fifty different characters and spends much of its time tying up complex plot threads. Though this obviously means that Book Five is not a good starting point for new readers, long-term O Men fans will be very satisfied to learn the true backstory of Anathema, the secrets of Doctor O, and more.
Eden’s storytelling style, unlike more traditional superhero comics, tends to skip over action sequences and spends time building up characters; the quantity of dialogue and exposition may not be to everyone’s taste but makes for a refreshing change and allows for some acute and insightful characterisation.
It also diverts from what you might expect in superhero comics in that there are some very surprising and self-aware twists, including an unexpected and clever reveal about the nature of the world the O Men live in. Though it’s not quite as subversive as Spandex, there’s not much like this on the market and you never know what’s coming next.
The art is entirely Eden’s work and his distinctive style make for an enjoyable read. The variety of textures he achieves with simple black and white digital shading shows that you don’t need colours to tell a good story, and his precise handle on character design and facial expressions means each of the many characters has a distinctive look and emotional believability.
As it brings this long-running saga to a conclusion, The O Men – Book Five will surely please fans of the series, while newcomers may want to seek out the entire collection. Martin Eden shows off some clever storytelling tricks and an offbeat artistic style; we’ll be looking out for what he does next.
THE O MEN – BOOK FIVE / AUTHOR & ARTIST: MARTIN EDEN / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW