Review: Ody-C #2

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#2 cover

Review: Ody-C #2
Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Matt Fraction
Art: Christian Ward

Image continues its new series Ody-C, the gender-bent sci-fi adaptation of the Odyssey courtesy of writer Matt Fraction and artist Christian Ward. As the action unfolds in a futuristic, war-ravaged universe, the reader gets more insight into Zeus and other characters at the beginning of what will be a colossal saga full of gorgeously illustrated feminist sci-fi. Issue 2 depicts a reinterpretation of Promethene’s story, incorporating Zeus’ fear of pesky usurping children.

Ody-C opens to a colossal splash page of Zeus killing her father Cronus, and she decides subsequently to perform a mass cull of men to prevent the very possibility of her own matricide. We see a shocking depiction of all the men who have been/will be obliterated, affording us yet another shocking and darkly humorous image to indicate the visceral matriarchy of Ody-C. Zeus’ daughter Promethene goes on to create a loophole through which humanity could reproduce a third sex, the Sebex introduced in issue 1. The Sebex are capable of pro-creating with other women- further eradicating any need for male intervention and fortifying female autonomy- and Promethene suffers the consequences of her actions through Zeus’ cruel punishment.

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As demonstrated in the first issue of Ody-C, Christian Ward’s art work is sublime, perhaps even more bombastic and psychedelic this time round. The splash page of Zeus murdering her father is grotesque and stunningly beautiful in equal measure. This universe is cruel and overwhelmingly visual. He also incorporates deliberate and ironic female imagery – with Lotusworld made up of huge layers of breasts and lips, for example – and each page contains so much detail and intricacy. Each panel and page is more vivid than the last, and as was the problem in issue one, the art work sometimes distracts from the narrative throughout the comic. Ward’s work, however, encapsulates the otherworldliness of Ody-C perfectly, and is arguably the most challenging and beautiful comic book art of the moment.

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This issue is immediately more comprehensible than the previous outing: the narrative of issue one of Ody-C was hard to follow, with the art work proving distracting. While the dialogue is still a little dense and the illustration is arguably – and justifiably – pushed to the forefront, the plot is overall more coherent. Any writer that manages to convey an entire tale through prose in the midst of such visual chaos is surely some sort of wizard (Are we sure Fraction doesn’t practice sorcery?). And the dialogue remains darkly funny- as seen when Sebex Ero asks Odyssia when they will reproduce and she replies “Here then comes this goddamn talk again”- and we receive further insight and depth to their relationship.

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Issue 2 of Ody-C is more accessible and coherent than the series’ debut, even if the illustration is still too gorgeous for its own good. Ody-C has such huge scope and reading it feels like a huge experience: it is overwhelming and epic, as a series of this scale should be. That is what makes Ody-C such a fascinating read and one of the most visceral, challenging comic books of the moment. Fraction and Ward have a lot of ground to cover- literally and figuratively- as Odyssia continues on her journey, and it is thrilling to await how her journey will deviate and develop.