By Jonathan Edwards
I was skeptical when I first heard about this series. Doing a prequel that focuses on some aspect of a story world before the introduction of their main character (in this case Wonder Woman) isn't an inherently bad idea. Although, I find the premises tend to be somewhat shaky. There's a threat of continuity, character motivations and developments, and even in-world logic being screwed up is all too real. The easiest example of this would probably be the Star Wars prequels, and personally, I'd say Gotham is more than equipped to be loathed for this. I wasn't expecting Odyssey of the Amazon to be that bad, but I also wasn't sure it'd be particularly good. I checked out the first issue really just to see if it might meet expectations. It didn't, but I figured I'd give it another issue to work out the kinks and maybe even hook me.
Odyssey of the Amazons #2 picks up right where the last issue left off, with trolls confronting the Amazons shortly after they arrive somewhere in the Nordic countries. I think their leader, Hessia, is meant to be the same character that was introduced in Superman/Wonder Woman but don't quote me on that. Either way, I find it rather surprising they didn't opt to focus on Hippolyta leading a group of Amazons or something like that. Because, the less recognizably grounded in the preexisting Wonder Woman mythos, the more it can feel like just some generic fantasy story. This is not helped by the plethora of different Amazons appearing in this book, few of which I recognize (granted, I'm no expert on Wonder Woman or the Amazons). Anyway, a fight ensues between Hessia and co. and the trolls, and we get to my first big problem with this book. Narration boxes litter the fight scenes, and they're filled with so much excessive purple prose that it just bogs everything down. It's like it doesn't trust the art to convey what's happening, so it over-intellectualizes it to the point where the visceral connection to the action is kind of lost.
Eventually, reinforcements show up in the form of local Vikings, forcing the trolls to retreat. The rest of the issue is pretty much dedicated to the Amazons forming an alliance with said Vikings in order to find their previously kidnapped sisters, who we do also get a scene of. Save for their leader Jon, the Vikings are pretty unanimously portrayed and misogynistic dicks that, metaphorically speaking, think that women should stay in the kitchen. It comes across as a grandly unnecessary bit of pseudo-conflict on top of feeling weirdly out of place. I did some quick research for the hell of it, and it seems that women generally enjoyed fairly equal rights within actual Viking society. Now, maybe the point is supposed to be that they still wouldn't be seen as warriors, but that's undercut by something the book itself brings up. Valkyries. Jon already mentions Thor and Ragnarok earlier, so there's no good reason they shouldn't already be familiar with Norse mythologies own warrior women. The whole thing is a lazy device that could've (and should've) been omitted to make room for actual plot and/or character development.
The art here is pretty good. There's perhaps an expression or two that don't quite work, but those're really just nitpicks. And overall, the art is the best part of the book. However, once again, it feels like the writing doesn't trust it to do its job. The best example is from the last couple pages of the issue. The art does a fine job of depicting Hessia in a one-on-one fight, but then the narration butts in to try add significance that only drags it out. If they wanted the fight to be longer, they should've written more action. It's that simple.
At the end of the day, this book leaves me with more questions than answers. Why can the Amazons and Vikings immediately communicate with one another when they should be speaking totally different languages? Why do these Amazons get to return to Themyscira when, as I understood it, those who left were not supposed to be able to find their way back? At what point in history is this story m0eant to take place (because, I can't shake the feeling that there's some anachronism going on)? I don't really care about any of the characters or what's going on, so there's not much of a reason for me to keep reading. Maybe check this out if you're super into anything fantasy. For everyone else, you can probably pass, and Wonder Woman fans ought to look elsewhere for more interesting and in depth looks into her mythos.
Writer: Kevin Grevioux
Artists: Richard Friend, Ryan Benjamin
Publisher: DC Comics