Review - ODY-C #3
By Jon Evans
Story - Matt Fraction
Art - Christian Ward
Flatting - Dee Cunniffe
Lettering - Chris Eliopoulos
Design - Christian Ward & Drew Gill
Cover - Christian Ward
Backmatter design - Laurenn McCubbin
Issue 3 explores the story of the Cyclops. It is perhaps one of the better remembered chapters in the story of Odysseus, and has been retold in various ways, from the stop motion of Ray Harryhausen to the wistful Cyclops, Rell, who could foretell his own death in glammed-up sci-fi/fantasy romp, Krull. Matt Fraction’s reimagining of the story is, again, both new and fresh, but also true to the original, with all it’s terror, gore and fantastical one-eyed confrontation.
The story introduces us to the birth of Dionysus and how he/she/it becomes integrated into the ranks of Apollo and Hera’s counter-conspiracy. Homer fans will recognise the dreadful fate of Semele, Dionysus' Mother, at the hands of Hera, but this sequence also demonstrates the ever changing loyalties of the gods, and their inchoate relationships with each other. Politics aside, it is satisfying to see the plot thicken and the fate of Odyssia further tossed onto the turbulent waters of destiny; in this case the turbulent waters are a star-storm
Inevitably, Odyssey and her crew arrive at the fateful island, which historians have always thought was Sicily, probably due to the similarity of the word to ‘Cyclops’, but in this case is the planet of Kylos. The setting is again, stunning and nightmarish at the same time, with another of Christian Ward’s beautiful panoramas on show. Imagine a twisted blend of a ‘Yes’ album cover and a Francis Bacon collection and you’re halfway there (you’re also treated to a sketch buildup of this scene in the creator’s notes later). Matt has outdone himself here with the shifting, shining colours, combining these with Dee Cunniffe's flats, mixing layer transparencies and blending of detail. I'm reminded of the sheen you see on dirty oil, glistening in the light. Again, I drool at the thought of a framed print hanging on my wall.
Unwisely, Odyssey and her crew are drawn like moths to the lure of a promise of riches hidden behind large doors. As we know this doesn’t go well. “What thing needs a front door so large?” The appearance of Polyphemus the cyclops has much weight to it, and Ward’s depiction of it pleases intensely. the fear and terror is palpable, as is the grim realisation by Odyssia that this could be the end of her and her crew as she meets her match. I enjoyed the surprise of the creature’s appearance. Fraction and Ward take the female slant of this adventure to the extreme when creating the cyclops.
The comic’s final panels hint at what gritty conclusion is to come next, but, knowledge of the original text aside, it would be fun to speculate what happens in issue 4 of Fraction’s space opera analogue. How will Odyssia help her crew out of the current predicament? Will we see any more godly interference, or will Odyssey pull out some warrior queen trump card? The clues are all there in the story, but certainly the Cyclops' demise will be a gorgeous feast for the eye…
This issue is available in print and digital version from Image
Side note - One very good reason to read the ODY-C is the because of the letters section. The letters and comments by Matt Fraction make for some very stimulating reading, especially from all the English and Classics teachers who use ODY-C as a teaching resource. Not only this, but they make give a fascinating insight into how Matt came to write ODY-C and warp the original story to his own design. The letters are very balanced too, including a letter from a person who did not like or ‘get’ ODY-C. You should read Matt’s response to this. If you are 'waiting for the trade’ I urge you to buy the single issues; you may be missing out.