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‘Ody-C’ #1 is Gender Swapped, Space Faring Brilliance

‘Ody-C’ #1 is Gender Swapped, Space Faring Brilliance

imageOdy-C #1
Written by Matt Fraction
Art by Christian Ward
Published by Image Comics

The Odyssey is one of the oldest and best stories of Western civilization and has been adapted, retold, and expanded upon many times over the years in mediums as disparate as film (O Brother Where Art Thou), modernist novel (Ulysses), and even epic poem (The Odyssey: A Modern Sequel). In Ody-C #1, Matt Fraction and Christian Ward move the wanderings of wily Odysseus to space while performing gender swaps on the majority of the characters. Odysseus is now Captain Odyssia, the leader of one of the only three ships to survive the war against the siegeworld Troia. Like any good adapter, Fraction keeps much of the core of the Odyssey, which is the fickleness of the gods, the difficulty of returning home, and Odyssia’s personal struggle between her yearning for adventure and settling peacefully for her family. (This side of Odysseus is seen more in Telegony, Dante’s Inferno, and the Lord Tennyson poem “Ulysses”) However, he and Ward revel in the science fiction trappings of the story from the unique way the Ody-C is piloted to the weird and wonderful designs for the ships, characters, and gods. Fraction’s dialogue is lyrical and can be hard to follow for readers who aren’t familiar with the Odyssey or Greek mythology. However, at its core, Ody-C #1 is a mind-bending space faring adventure with lush colors, trippy panel arrangements, and a diverse female cast of characters.

In depicting this space saga, Christian Ward eschews the solid lines of Jack Kirby and Walt Simonson and goes with something more fluid, even viscous. This style works well when Odyssia, Gamem, and Ene (female versions of Agamemnon and Menelaus) leave the ruined Troia for the trippy, wobbly environs of space. Ward captures the motion of the ships and vacuum of space by using a colorful “freeze frame” style image of the Ody-C’s progress to simulate their great speed. He provides the vivid imagery to move the story along ODY-C-1-p12-colours-webwhile Fraction adds backstory and thematic commentary through his caption boxes. Ward gives both the human and mortal characters a variety of body shapes as well as a wide range of postures and expressions to characterize them, like the hierarchy of women piloting the Ody-C. Harmony is the key to keep this ship on course, but Ward’s art excels in showing chaos by showing a scene from multiple perspectives as the panels wobble into colorful oblivion. His layouts and bright, blotchy colors alone make Ody-C worth reading.

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Throughout his career, Matt Fraction has enjoyed playing with language and the absence of language. There was the recent Hawkeye issue that was mostly done in sign language as well as his witty, honest dialogue as seen in titles as diverse as Invincible Iron Man and Sex Criminals. In Ody-C #1, he tries a new wrinkle as he brings meter and poetry to comics. With the exception of some pivotal dialogue exchanges scattered throughout the book, most of Ody-C is narrated by an unknown person. (A female futuristic Homer?) This narration helps develop the world of Ody-C, which is as rich as the world that Homer wrote about in his epic poem and also brings some mystery to the table. Some of the new lingo can be a little hard to follow, but Fraction’s plot is straightforward and follows the Odyssey pretty closely with a few interesting exceptions.

Ody-C #1 shows that even the greatest stories can be rewritten in a visually appealing and rich way. This first issue introduces the protagonist, her crew, her goal as well as some of the major themes, but there is lots of room for Fraction and Ward to delve into the world that readers have only seen the surface of. With its inventive layouts, poetic writing, layered female protagonist, and consciousness expanding art, Ody-C #1 is a treat for sci-fi and mythology fans as well as anyone who loves a good adventure story.

– Logan Dalton