Matt Fraction and Christian Ward’s debut issue of the long anticipated ODY-C is a strange and difficult re-imagination of the classic Homer story as a female led space opera. It is equal parts challenging, confusing and occasionally transcendentally beautiful. Matt Fraction revived his comic writing in the last couple years as he zeroed in on what he does best with Hawkeye, Sex Criminals & Satellite Sam in writing well developed, charming and totally relatable flawed character studies that explored all facet’s of their everyday and unusual lives while creating strong humanist portraits that are equal parts humorous and heartfelt. The first issue of ODY-C isn’t that whatsoever as it’s basically written as you would read Homer from a text book (besides the part where he writes “Fuck War”) and then retro fits it as a Prophet like unconventional space opera. If Fraction has ever attempted something this ambitious in the past I haven’t read it yet as he is very much challenging himself and by extension the reader in creating a comic that completely plays against his greatest strengths. And it works for the most part, the narration makes it feel a little cold and the story is complicated to the point that it basically requires a second reading to fully appreciate it’s nuance let alone understand the narrative. While the plot is told directly it’s not in a style of language that is going to be familiar to your average reader let alone comic book readers but there is something interesting and engaging that runs through the book in spite of that. This could partially be attributed to the way that the story interpret’s Homer’s Odyssey as a space opera and how even in the context of that sub genre it’s still defying convention and tropes on some level. But moreover their is so much going on in these pages with so many levels to the experience of reading the comic that at times it can feel overwhelming but when it’s on and you pay close attention that becomes extremely rewarding. Much of this could be attributed to the lush illustration technique of artist Christian Ward that is equal parts tight and loose in how he draws the comic that gives the book a dream like quality. The narrative style of his art is from the Bill Sienkiewicz school but unlike artist with a similar aesthetic such as Marco Rudy or J.H Williams III, Wards pencil line is sharp and precise that makes for a fantastic looking contrast in the narrative he creates against the backdrop of deep space. It’s surrealism sneaks up on you like in the early stages of tripping on mushrooms when you start seeing hallucinations out of the corner of your eye before the drugs fully engulfs your perception of reality. So much about ODY-C is difficult to pin down as it lives within inversions and dichotomies without making any of it clear for the reader. It’s not an easy comic but it’s a fascinating and challenging one and while we’ve had a lot of comics like that in the last year such as Trees, Multiversity, Zero, Pretty Deadly ect there is nothing else like this. It’s a literal shoot for the moon effort from the creative team and the title clearly has a long way to go before it’s fully formed if that is ever going to happen but as an introduction and foundation it clearly establishes what it is and what the experience of reading it will be and right now that looks like a trip into the unknown worth taking.
OUR STORY THUS FAR: Two weeks ago, Alan Moore traveled to Portland to discuss comics with his fellow comics creators. Today he’s having coffee with Matt Fraction…
Alan Moore and Matt Fraction were not involved in the creation of this not-for-profit parody comic strip review of Crossed +100 Taste Test. The opinions expressed by the characters above are the opinions of the author (who did purchase Crossed +100 Taste Test), and not the opinions of Alan Moore and Matt Fraction.
Co-written with Patrick Hess.