Ody-C is Greek myth geek’s dream. Check out my review of issue #4 on Word of the Nerd, or below!
Four issues on, and Ody-C is developing very nicely indeed as a new take on an ancient tale. Matt Fraction and Christian Ward continue to marry poetic verse with psychedelic space aesthetics to great success.
A big appeal of the story of The Odyssey (and The Iliad) are its depictions of valour and courage without underplaying human (or godly) propensity for failure and weakness; and that comes through particularly strongly in this issue as Odyssia rallies her crew to fight back against the cruel, wretched cyclops that seeks to brutally devour them alive. Using her famed cunning, Odyssia has her people string up the bones of their fallen comrades, and to create ladders they can use to aid their escape.
Long story short, it actually works, but not before an edge-of-your-seat suspenseful chase sequence where the group runs back to their ship, Ody-C, with Cyclops (now blinded by Odyssia) lumbering after them. Odyssia makes it on board only barely, and unfortunately, Cyclops leaves them a parting gift that damages the ship. Spiralling out of control and “bleeding out starstuff”, the crew is helpless when something else pulls them in–the planet of creepy uncle Aeolus! (Who is, indeed, the only man we’ve seen so far in this continuity.)
I was struck particularly by the use of epithets in this issue. Homer liked epithets. You can’t read a line of The Iliad or The Odyssey without tripping over one (“swift-footed Achilles”), and here, it’s “wolf-witch Odyssia.” These touches are obviously inspired by the source text, but also distinctly “Fractionized,” and the combination just works.
Another Fraction touch is his alteration of Odysseus’s self-declared name to Cyclops from “No one” to “All-men,” leading Cyclops to roar, upon Odyssia’s departure, that “All-men” are the sources of her woes. It’s so very meta, and I love how appropriate it is to this feminist and patriarchy-busting interpretation of an otherwise very male-dominated story.
And what is there to say about Ward’s art that I haven’t already said in my previous reviews? It’s difficult to separate it from the script when looking at the final product, because they are so incredibly symbiotic that I can’t imagine one working without the other. Everything is vibrant and colourful but in different ways–strong navy hues in scenes with the gods, the orange-purple horizon of a sky as it gradually flows into outer space, the grotesque red-pink-browns of the carnage wrought by the Cyclops. Page layouts are never the same on each page, challenging the reader to study each panel by itself and in concert with its siblings.
The Odyssey has always been densely verbal and textual, but through sequential art, Ward and Fraction renew the wonder, adventure, and escapism of the original myths. “Genderbent Odyssey in space” as a premise is by itself enough to get me interested, but what they’ve created here, and continued with Ody-C #4, is art. Art that draws the reader in, encourages them to think deeper, and reminds them just why these stories are as enduring as they are, even in such a vastly different form. All I can say is: more, please.