On its surface, “ODY-C” merely promised to be a retelling of Homer’s “Odyssey” but set in space. Into the series’ second story arc, though, Matt Fraction and Christian Ward deliver something far more complex and fascinating. “ODY-C” #8 continues melding elements of â€ŽScheherazade’s “One Thousand and One Nights” into the book, even as we learn more about a world that’s both a prison and a trap.
“ODY-C” #8 picks up right where the previous issue left off, as we learn more about the world of Q’af and how Hyrar, Zhaman and their subjects were trapped there, even as the brothers attempted to transform it into paradise. When betrayal strikes, the resulting response is swift and brutal. Fraction’s story quickly brings home the dangers of Q’af and how it is a world built on murder and bloodshed.
Considering “ODY-C” begins with our cast returning home after a war (to say nothing of the battle against the Cyclops several issues ago), there being bloodshed in “ODY-C” shouldn’t be a surprise. What makes this issue stand out so much is the sheer emotion that comes across. That’s difficult to achieve in a story narrated by a third party; everything is related by someone who wasn’t there, a process that can often neuter the telling. Here, Fraction and Ward make the horrific nature of Q’af truly burst off the page; the numerous small panels show all of the little awful moments, and the larger scenes induce horror with literal pools of blood or towers of bone being built. Ward’s colors are not just vibrant, they almost burn into your eyes as you look at them; he finds ones for the initial massacre that deliberately contrast and almost clash against the deep blood red, making every little moment stand out and pop off of the page. All the while, Fraction’s grim script continues to tell the tale of a world where hope is continually murdered. Ward’s lines themselves are much more subdued and controlled than normal in this series; if anything, the tighter figures and inks make it that much more disturbing as the characters resemble people you might see on the street.
“ODY-C” #8 is a swirling tale of death and destruction, even as one hopes here’s a chance for the people of Q’af to finally be freed of their imprisonment. Is that ahead? Thanks to Fraction and Ward deliberately diverging more and more from the original source material, your guess is as good as mine. Regardless, seeing the journey unspool will be part of the fun. Even in the most awful moments of this issue, there’s something about the craft in which it’s told that makes you want to see more. Perhaps hope hasn’t truly died on Q’af just yet.