Get ready to get weird. It’s time to look at Matt Fraction and Christian Ward’s gender bent Greek epic-adaptation, ODY-C.
If you’re familiar with Homer’s Odyssey, then you have the plot of ODY-C: a captain sets course for home after fighting a long war, but gods and monsters block the way. Now set it in space and flip everyone’s gender (because Zeus has done away with men), and you have the shape of things. Fraction does add wrinkles to the plot*, but where this book excels is in its style.
The majority of ODY-C’s text is numbered verse, like its source material. And Fraction’s verse does have a rhythm—when it gets going, it even takes on a musical quality. Its focus is to convey, in the way a score might, emotion that does not come across in the faces of warriors in battle. My favorite thematic touch to Fraction’s script, though, is that only the gods speak for themselves. All mortals’ dialogue comes as part of narration. Their words are in rectangular boxes, spoken for them by an unseen narrator. But the gods get word balloons. They have power in that way. It’s a clever use of form that is unique to comics as a medium.
While ODY-C’s writing leans hard into classical form with the occasional twist, Christian Ward’s art of the book is downright surrealist. Ward pulls this off with tight, intentional layouts that expertly guide the eye to where he wants it to go. Sometimes panel arrangement has a structure and symmetry that evokes art deco geometry; other times, panels feel like they are falling into place around bloody battle. It is psychedelic and inventive, gorgeous and grotesque.
I’ve dragged my feet on reading ODY-C for a while despite being a fan of Fraction’s and Ward’s work on other titles. I did so because ancient epics aren’t my favorite thing, and I suspected that in that light, reading it would feel like homework. While this is a pretty dense read, it never felt like work. It’s a very inventive book—do not let the fact that it adapts Homer make you think otherwise. This is a clever, imaginative science-fiction epic, and I definitely think it’s worth checking out.
*I’m not to the point in the book when he claimed at DragonCon that he added in the plot of Moby Dick, but I also can’t be sure that he wasn’t joking about that.
- ODY-C, Vol. 1: Off to Far Ithica (#1-5)
- ODY-C Cycle One (#1-12)
Writer: Matt Fraction | Artist and Colorist: Christian Ward | Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos | Flatter: Dee Cunniffe | Editor: Lauren Sankovitch | Designers: Christian Ward, Drew Gill