Thursday, 25 June 2015

ODY-C Vol 1: Off to Far Ithicaa by Matt Fraction and Christian Ward

ODY-C Vol 1: Off to Far Ithicaa written by Matt Fraction and illustrated by Christian Ward is the first volume of a comic retelling of The Odyssey, set in space and incredibly gender-bent. Basically all the characters are female. I think there are two minor male characters in the whole first volume (unless you count gods temporarily appearing male) and neither are 100% human. Gender-bent in this case means that all the traditionally male characters are female and the few female characters either remain female or... something. For example, Hera is still a woman but she has a beard but the male gods are all women now. Basically what I'm saying is if you ever thought The Odyssey would be improved with more female characters and/or gender flipping AND/OR thought it would be cool to have it set in space, this is your book!

An eye-searing, mind-bending, gender-shattering epic science fiction retelling of Homer's Odyssey starting with the end of a great war in the stars and the beginning of a very long journey home for Odyssia and her crew of warriors. The journey to Ithicaa begins HERE!

The first thing that struck me when I started reading ODY-C is just how pretty it is. It's very bright and colourful, as the cover suggests, with a sort of surreal and dreamlike quality to the art. It's probably worth reading just for the art.

Which is just as well because the story was a bit confusing, especially at first. The language used is fairly poetic in style — with occasional breaks — and is mainly narration rather than dialogue. I think I would have gotten into it more quickly if I were more familiar with the original Odyssey (which I'm really not). As it was, I had gotten into the swing of it by the time we got to the Cyclops (also female... and three-breasted, possibly to make up for the eye?). It was also kind of surreal reading about an army of only women. Having the more prominent warriors be women was less unusual than having all of the random grunts be women too. (And isn't it interesting what that says about society?) Some of the names of characters were slightly altered or just spelled differently, which didn't help with working out which bits of Greek mythology they were reflecting, but I felt more or less abreast of the situation by the end. Also, the Zeus-induced reason for the absence of men was pretty hilarious. Anther reason to pick this up.

I should mention that this comic series is not for children and, quite frankly, NSFW either. Although the art isn't sexualised (except for the sex scenes, I suppose, but even then not so much) there's a significant amount of nudity. Also swearing and a lot of violence (particularly the part with the Cyclops). So I wouldn't give this to your kids, basically. That said, it's probably less bad to read in public than Sex Criminals, if we're going to rank things.

I would mainly recommend this to readers familiar with The Odyssey and anyone willing to read it just for the art. The friends who recommended it to me said something like "It's a bit confusing but so pretty!" which is dead-on. (They also showed me a floppy with a detailed timeline in the front, which was not present in the version I read.) Read it if the idea of Greek mythology in space sounds appealing or if you don't mind being confused. I'm a bit torn as to whether I'll be picking up the next volume.

4 / 5 stars

First published: June 2015, Image Comics
Series: Yes. Volume 1 collecting issues #1-5 of ongoing series ODY-C
Format read: eARC
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

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