Monday, January 25, 2016

ODY-C: Volume 1: Off to Far Ithicaa

If you could not figure it out by looking at my name, I am partly Greek. So when I was younger I was attracted to lots of books about Greek (and Roman) myths, especially D’Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths. I was almost a classics major in college. Also, I am pretty taken with a few works written by Matt Fraction, in particular his runs on Hawkeye, Iron Fist, and Sex Criminals, as well as his forays into the legend of Thor for Marvel Comics. So I was pretty psyched to read this comic, a sci-fi re-imagining of Homer's The Odyssey starring a female cast.

I dug how the dialogue and narrative boxes act like stanzas or text fragments and also how the language hewed pretty closely to the original words, only given updated science fiction twists. I also thought the story was pretty clever sometimes in how the situations were translated in a universe where males did not exist because of the actions of the gods and where the only true alternative was the subversive poly-gender version of Prometheus. But in the end, I was also pretty disappointed, if only because the retelling was mostly perhaps too closely without much panache. Most of the twists seem strictly for shock value or base jokes (Zeus having "thunder thighs," for example), and I found little to compel me to keep reading in terms of the plot and characters.

Now I have spoken about the words and story, but the true star and most compelling part of the book is the artwork by Christian Ward. Check out those compositions, imaginative character and device designs, and the eye-popping colors! Each page is a spectacle. This book harkens back to Barbarella, black light posters, and Brendan McCarthy in excellent fashion. I loved lingering over the images to see how he translated the tale into his visuals while also being in awe of his skills. This book is unique and unlike any other comics being published right now, at least in terms of its art style. Still, as great as the visuals are, I am not sure I will be getting volume 2 (which is out soon).

The reviews I have read generally praise the book while offering a couple of reservations. Matt Johnson wrote that it is "a comic that’s not going to be for everyone" but still praised it as "a rare comic that stands alone with little else to compare it to." Publishers Weekly gave it a starred review and called it "A remarkable comic that gets better with each turn of the page." But I agree more with Steve Raiteri who concluded, "Strongly adult and more intriguing for its ambition and spectacle than for its story or characters but recommended." The ideas and imagery are excellent, but I had some  issues with the plot and characters.

ODY-C: Off to Far Ithicaa was published by Image Comics, who has much more info this book and the whole series here. This books features sex, nudity, and violence and is suggested for readers who can handle those things.
By Zeus!

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