Review: Ody-C #4

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Review: Ody-C #4
Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Matt Fraction
Art: Christian Ward

This week sees Image continue 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, #4 picks up from the last outing in which Odyssia and her army were suffering the colossal threat of the Cyclops. It’s hard to spoil a story that was written in the 8th century BC, but Odyssia and the Ithicans barely escape the Cyclops- with countless casualties on their side- which throws the stability of their journey into chaos.

Ody-C #4 is by far the grisliest and most gratuitously violent; highlights include Odyssia and her followers building ladders and weapons out of their fallen comrades’ skeletons to attack the Cyclops, saying “Harvest the bones so our women have not died in vain.” Yes, slightly ghoulish and grim, but it’s dramatic and amazing and as an act lends itself so well to Ward’s art work. The Cyclops’ final plight is somehow touching, screened through the perspective of women wronged by men. She screeches “Avenge she that suffers this violence at all-men’s black hand! Retribute she fouled of all men’s grim crimes!” which paints a side to the monster easier to empathise with.

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Fraction’s dialogue in this issue feels so much more accessible but still poetic and lyrical; the main problem Ody-C has suffered so far is that the dialogue has felt dry and hard to follow while the plot was too scattered and overshadowed by the gorgeous art work. Issue 4, however, proves to be something of a turning point, with Fraction’s perfect use of language soothing what is a graphic and violent story. The narration and dialogue almost justifies the violence and highlights the honour and heart of Odyssia’s story.

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Odyssia herself, “first down and last up,” is an amazing hero and #4 amplifies her ability to fight and lead an army. She is bold, resilient and embodies perfectly the role of a leader. It finally feels as if she has come into her own. It is exciting to see her fight and navigate round the Cyclops’ challenges and a series like Ody-C – which takes a well-known saga and turns it on its head – needs a protagonist like Odyssia to execute it properly. And by “it” we of course mean a gender-swapping, feminist sci-fi interpretation of The Odyssey.

Ward’s visuals are as stunning and intricate as always, with particular praise for his blood work. The gratuitous nature of this issue allows Ward to use an explosion of vibrant colour and utilise truly grim imagery in the name of intergalactic warfare. The action and violence throughout the story are at the forefront as always, but #4 is arguably the first time the story and art work in Ody-C are on the same level. The writing and art work compliment each other to deliver a cohesive and compelling story.

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Ody-C certainly seems to have reached a turning point: what was once a dry and arduous read with excellent art work has become a much more lyrical and vibrant text, with an enormously compelling protagonist the reader is rooting for, beautiful dialogue and the best art work in comics today. Hopefully #4 is an indicator of what to expect from the rest of the series.