Book Review: ODY-C Volume 1 by Matt Fraction and Christian Ward

ODY-C is an ambitious, psychedelic epic fantasy that needs to be completely finished and printed into one enormous, beautiful book so I can just read it all in one sitting. It’s a futuristic, gender-bent retelling of The Odyssey, and it’s a great way of bringing an ancient story to life for a new generation of readers.

That said, ODY-C is not going to be for everyone. It definitely relies on the reader having some level of familiarity with the source material, for one thing. If you’ve never heard of Homer or The Odyssey, and don’t know at least some of the highlights of the story, you may feel somewhat at sea through much of this first volume. There’s no hand-holding here, and it’s very obvious that the reader is expected to either keep up or go spend some time on Wikipedia and then come back.

Even the language is a nod to the story’s origin. It’s written partly in a kind of sound-alike version of the dactylic hexameter that characterized much of the classical Greek epic poetry. I love this choice because it maintains some of the identity of the source material in the face of a lot of other more avant garde adaptational decisions, but it can sound clunky to modern readers. While I’m not an expert on the form to be either outraged or dismayed about the execution, I found the poetic language interesting, and it really helped to set the tone of the comic and give a fascinating classical flavor to the setting that makes it a little unique. Certainly, I’ve never seen anything quite like it.

Christian Ward’s art, of course, is stunning. It’s just page after page of gorgeous colors and textures, from brilliantly-rendered action scenes to grand space vistas. At the same time—and this is, I think, my favorite thing about ODY-C—while the overall look of the art shows a keen attention to detail (the yonic shapes of spacecraft are a nice touch in a universe that has been scrubbed almost entirely clean of men) and an eye for beauty, there seems to be remarkably little focus on making the book’s many, many women pretty. The women of ODY-C come in all shapes and sizes and colors, from the great warrior Odyssia to various goddesses and even a hideously rendered (in the best way) cyclops.

As with all comic books, my biggest complaint about ODY-C is that it’s not long enough, and I have to wait for more, which is even more frustrating since it seems to have a somewhat laissez-faire production schedule. I want more, and much sooner than I’m likely to get it.

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