Spanning Avenging Spider-Man, Daredevil and The Punisher, the Omega Effect is a three-part arc that deals with the repercussions of Daredevil's possession of the "Omega Drive." Made from a piece of a Fantastic Four uniform — and, therefore, constructed of "unstable molecules" — the Omega Drive is a nearly indestructible, limitless, super-encrypted data source that holds vital information on all of the Marvel Universe's top criminal organizations. With the Omega Drive in his possession, Daredevil and the people he cares about are all now targets of all the organizations with information on the drive. The drive has also attracted the attention of the Punisher, who wishes to take the drive for himself in order to aide him in his continuing vendetta against organized crime. In an effort to both keep the organizations on the drive off his back and to keep the Punisher's body count from going up exponentially, Daredevil must team up with both Spider-Man and the Punisher to form a plan to keep the Omega Drive from falling into the wrong hands.
It's the kind of plot that often turns into a jumbled mess in comics, especially when placed in the hands of more than one writer, but in the case of the Omega Effect, it works. Mark Waid and Greg Rucka make a much better team than Daredevil and the Punisher, and all three comics stay consistent in both tone and quality. The characterizations are spot-on, the dialogue is well crafted, and the story maintains the energy needed to drive it forward and keep the reader engaged. Rounding out the creative team is Marco Checchetto, whose art is a worthy companion to the quality writing. Bright, expressive characters pop out against shadowed backgrounds as Checcetto provides the perfect visuals to a story about heroes facing the darkness of organized crime.
The real star of the Omega Effect, however, is not the three established heroes having their "team up," but Punisher newcomer, Rachel Alves. She's been a central figure in Rucka's current run on The Punisher since her family and friends were murdered in a wedding-day shooting spree that almost claimed her life as well, but it's in the Omega Effect that we really see her character come into her own. With a background similar to Frank Castle's, she's become something of a Punisher-in-Training, donning her own white skull and wanting to wipe out the people she sees as responsible for the death of her loved ones. She has not, however, left the line far behind her as Castle has, and Daredevil sees her as a second chance to correct the mistakes he feels he made when Castle first set out to avenge his family's deaths. Although Daredevil feels like it's too late for Castle to ever change his course, he believes that he can help Rachel to see that she can make a choice that gives her family something other than a legacy of bloodshed. Torn between Daredevil's way and the Punisher's way, Rachel Alves is at an important crossroads, and her personal struggle is compelling and engaging. While the supposed struggle in the Omega Effect may be to keep the Omega Drive from falling into the wrong hands, the real conflict is with Rachel and what her decision will be. Since her first appearance, she's been a welcome addition to comics, both as a fully-developed female character with agency and as simply a compelling character, and it was intriguing to see her step further out of the Punisher's shadow.
Mark Waid's Daredevil and Greg Rucka's The Punisher have consistently been two of the best written books on the shelves, week after week, and a crossover between them produced no less than what would be expected. The Omega Effect proves to be a solid story that both satisfies current readers of these books as well as has the potential to bring in new readers with good jumping-on points.
Sara McDonald started reading comics in the third grade, and now puts her English degree to good use talking about them on the Internet. She currently resides in Western Massachusetts with a roommate, three cats, and an action figure collection and spends the time she isn’t reading comics working for a non-profit. You can visit her blog at Ms. Snarky’s Awesometastic Comics Blog.