“Omaha” The Cat Dancer
Omaha dyes her hair blond (which for an anthropomorphic cat, just looks weird) and runs off to a small town to start a new life. Chuck, who is handling the separation poorly, seeks stability with a new mission.
What’s interesting about Omaha’s new life is how much it resembles the life she had as the series opened. She has arrived in a new town and taken on a new name, Susie (which incidentally was her name prior to adopting the ‘Omaha’ moniker). It’s a smaller town than Mipple City, and the laws are a little stricter, allowing her only to dance topless; but her life is essentially the same. She’s befriended one of the other strippers, Ceecee, replacing her former former-stripper confidant, Shelly; and she begins dating a young, innocent-looking customer named Jack. Which, of course, mimics how she first started seeing Chuck.
Omaha’s old life fell apart because of the sordid and assorted lies that she and all her loved ones were living. In her new life, she seems to be trying to recreate the illusory life she thought she was living before. She also appears to be aware of this fact, as she is much more open in Jack than she was with Chuck, even going so far as to tell him the deep, dark secret that had come between her and Chuck: that she was once and still is technically married.
Chuck is despondent without Omaha. It’s not the first time they’ve been apart during the series, but this time is different because the separation is both physical and emotional. In a phone conversation between Omaha and Chuck’s mother (who, as a result of her long absence, is probably just as close to Omaha as she is her own son) Chuck’s mother describes him as ‘unstable.’ This term carries a lot of significance for him because of Chuck’s father’s mental problems, causing Omaha to worry, though not enough to go back.
Chuck pulls himself out of his depression, at least to some extent, by using his new-found wealth, and the power it confers, to try to save A-Block from a redevelopment plan that was spearheaded by the now dead Gov. Bonner. A-Block is home to the various bars, small stages and strip clubs that so many in the cast work in, and is thus their ‘home.’ This gives him a purpose, and allows him to re-engage with humanity. More importantly, it helps him come to terms with his new lifestyle.
The concept of ‘free love’ is heavy in this volume. Not that monogamy has ever been a strong impulse for any of the characters in this series, but in this volume we see the idea more directly articulated. First with Shelly, who has become attracted to the lesbian bookstore clerk Micky. She talks it over with her live-in boyfriend Huddle, who seems perfectly fine with it, “as long as there’s some left for me.” The other example is between Chuck and Sandy, who is with a musician named Derek. Sandy explains that they have an open relationship, and that sleeping together doesn’t have to change Chuck and her’s friendship, that it can just be for fun.
After a slightly more plot-centric volume four, the fifth volume of Omaha refocuses on character. There’s a lot of interesting developments, and the characters are just as likable and empathetic as before, though it’d be nice if there was at least a little more conflict.