Review: ODY-C #4

Another month comes, and another giant, mythological issue of Ody-C is gracing the shelves at your local comic book shop. The poets sing once more, and the story resumes: Wily Odyssia and her crew are still stranded in the charnel house of the Cyclops, but they manage to make gory, brilliant use of the corpses of their fallen comrades; this is Greek myth, and nobody dies in vain. Meanwhile, Zeus and Poseidon keep close tabs on the heroes and their misadventures with Poseidon’s monocular, wayward child, and the ODY-C crash lands on an all-new, all-different hellish planet. Also included in this month’s issue is the new trademark of Fraction and DeConnick’s work: scholarly essays about the themes of the work. This month, its classicist Dani Colman discussing Homer and the oral poetry tradition of ancient Greece for Beginners.

Ody-C-#4Ody-C is a strange beast. It walks a very thin wire, where to one side lies unreadable, dense-as-fuck, one-to-one recreations of Homeric storylines; on the other, a super-sloppy, Avatar Press-style gorefest that could possibly hope to rise to the heights of a Harryhausen adaptation. Luckily, the men on the wire are Fraction and Ward, and for a relatively fresh team, they are already hitting their strides. In all honesty, they hit it full-force last issue, and now they’re just cresting the wave (if I can mix very general metaphors), making shit way more awesome every month.

The Cyclops episode of The Odyssey is a perfect spot to see how a team can pull it off, as I mentioned last month. This issue is another great example of that kind of push-pull; when they need to, they can do a largely wordless page of Odyssia and her crew building a gory escape, right after the Cyclops vomits (yet another majestic and beautiful image from this series that will haunt my nightmares for years to come). Otherwise, when they need to, they can have a conversational scene between the gods, and still make it visually interesting, as well as a compelling dialogue.

While I’m a huge Fraction fan, as regular readers will know, this isn’t my favorite Fraction book (although, I will never not find his “#NotAll-Men!” joke from the Cyclops super hilarious). Luckily, this is a good Fraction book with one of the most phenomenal artists around working on it. After the extrava-gore-nza of the escape from the Cyclops, Ward comes out of left field with a much better look at Poseidon, an inconstant god made from the waters she commands. It’s an unbelievable character design, and it sometimes suffers just because it’s a book filled with them. Seeing characters get their moments in the spotlight is half the joy of this book, and this is a prime example.

This book also benefits from an amazing team. While Fraction and Ward get to be at the forefront, this is another book where Chris Eliopolous steps in and plays Steve Nash; the best assist man in the business. There are a few sequences where he pulls from Ward’s palettes on the characters to color their narrative captions, and it’s one of those things that works so well that it ends up being too subtle to notice on the first time around.

This is largely unrelated to the issue as a whole, but the article in the back by Colman posits Homer and the other aoidoi (oral poets) of ancient Greece as the freestyle rappers of the day, with their own Antiquity-style rap battles. I cannot wait to see a modern day AU of that somewhere on tumblr in the near future. Colman also points out that terms like “rosy-fingered dawn” and “wine-dark sea,” which show up all the time, are easy mnemonics for remembering the poem; if you can fill in the rest of the line, you’ve already got the rhyme set up. It’s that kind of attention to detail and making this new thing like the old thing in all the ways that build the world that make Ody-C so much fun to read.

Score: 4/5

ODY-C #4 Writer: Matt Fraction Artist: Christian Ward Flatting: Dee Cunniffe Lettering: Chris Eliopolous Publisher: Image Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 4/8/15 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital