With Omega Reign, Bill Coffin explores the superhero trope as only a true believer can, in a brisk and wonderful read that pays equal homage to the Marvel classic Secret Wars and Stephen King's The Stand. His not-quite-Earth is populated with an imaginative (and brilliantly-named) menagerie of super-folk, both "capes" (good guys) and masks (bad guys) locked in the constant and eternal tug of war that will be familiar to comic readers and moviegoers alike. Coffin takes advantage of the literary format to delve into the psyches of his omega-powered protagonists, granting operatic depth and humanity to his characters.
Coffin's strength is character development, and several wonderful personalities emerge during Omega Reign. Some wonderful names, such as Iron Will and Fugue. Some fun reimagining of classic roles, with Praetorian as the heroic avatar, mashing together Superman and Captain America. Sigma, the cool, intellectual femme fatale. My favorite is The Regent. He's a diabolical master villain in the mold of Doctor Doom, aloof and intelligent and evil, but dignified and classy and noble as well. In this reality that has seen an apocalyptic event remove all non-superpowered humans, The Regent works covertly and swiftly to figure out how to bend the new normal to his advantage. The remaining villains flock to his banner, while even the heroes wonder if they need someone of his brilliance to master the new world order. He's compelling, magnetic, and he might actually be the right man at the right time. Never mind that the holocaust might be his doing in the first place.
Omega Reign feels like the opening salvo of a longer, more complicated skein, in keeping with the serial format of vintage comic book literature. I'm looking forward to the next installment, and the ones after that.