Review - ODY-C
By Jon Evans
Story - Matt Fraction
Art - Christian Ward
Flatting - Dee Cunniffe
Lettering - Chris Eliopoulos
Design - Christian Ward & Drew Gill
Cover - Christian Ward
ODY-C is a collaboration between Matt Fraction and Christian Ward, both writers and artists with great CVs and is a futuristic retelling of Homer's Odyssey. With Barbarella-esque overtones, this story is set in a super future of space warriors, organic spaceships and fantastical hyper-dimensional space gods.
The twist in this particular story is the decision to make the majority of the characters female. In a gender switch of massive proportions, even some of the male-looking characters are significantly hemaphroditic in appearance, and this adds to the freshness of the re-imagining. Part of this is a desire by Matt Fraction to tell a story with a strong female protagonist for his daughter, but also the script was reworked ad infinitum and developed into the ensemble you see in the strong opening issue of the series.
The art style is markedly unique and striking and suits the subject matter well. With broad, curving brush strokes, Christian Ward has created a style that is part impressionistic, but wholly organic and has inspiration from the early sci-fi Art of 60's film posters. I was reminded of both Black Science and Low in presentation however Ward still manages to stamp his own mark on it. There is an interesting experimentation of panel positioning on every page that makes reading it just as exciting visually as well as in terms of content. Sometimes the panels were represented radially, or as cutaways of Odyssia's spaceship showing its top-down heirachical structure. In one case the panels float in space as if released of their own gravity on the page, mirroring what is happening to the ODY-C in its flight to escape enemy ships. Ward is not afraid to challenge the reader and the panel geometry mirrors the inchoate nature of the story and its setting.
And speaking of challenge, the narrative is true to the original tone of the Odyssey. Written in a rhapsodic form like the original text, Fraction has done exceedingly well in mirroring the nature of Homer's opus. Some more casual readers may find the text at first jarring, but this is intentional and conveys the epic style of the narrative and lends gravitas to the artwork. Having a classical education may well help the reader but isn't essential. Nevertheless having studied the Illiad and the Odyssey myself, I found it fun to see how Fraction has reworked the characters and themes in the story and look forward to seeing how this pans out over the next few issues. It would be interesting to see this used as an example text in an educational capacity, however with some of the more mature themes being explored in the story this would have to be delivered cautiously.
ODY-C is a bold project with great scope for exploring the oldest western text in modern civilisation. Fraction has worked hard to make the narrative feel like an epic space opera while keeping real to the original subject matter and Ward's strong and unique art style make this a serious proposition for readers looking for a change in their catalogue of comics to read.
Issue Rating - 4.5/5
A look inside...