“ODY-C” #2 is another home run issue for the series, full of dreamlike visuals and eye-melting colors that create an completely unique experience. Matt Fraction’s script continues to impress, looping and lilting through a poetic cadence reminiscent of the many translations of Homer’s greatest work and a narrative voice quite unlike any other out in comics right now.
Odyssia’s journey finds her ship arriving on the planet of Lotus Eaters, home to the most addictive and deadly narcotic in the universe. The setting is perfect for Christian Ward and color flatter Dee Cunniffe to stretch their skills out and dive into some ethereal imagery. Not that they need to look for an excuse in this series, but almost every page is lousy with gorgeous, intricate art. Ward gives us the planet peeled apart in layers, arranged similarly to those of Hell as described in “The Inferno,” peeling away each strata and displaying the unique temptations therein. The planet itself has the shape and build of a woman, with Ward using each level to subtly create a siren whose call leaves those who answer it unable to escape. Cunniffe’s colors are like vivid sunbursts directly to the retina, warping and twisting the art in beautiful new directions. The pencils and colors work so well together that I really can’t imagine one apart from the other. Ward’s thin, crisp lines feel looser than his solid construction work in previous books like “Infinite Vacation,” allowing the art to match the dreamlike quality of Fraction’s script.
The layouts are a thing of beauty with no two pages plotted alike. The pages tell two stories, one within each panel, and another one entirely if the reader pulls their focus out to the bigger picture. Looking at the page where Odyssia gathers her party together to leave the planet, each panel tells a beautiful little story, but — pulling back — Ward composes the page so that all of the largest pieces of action drive the reader’s eye towards the ship at the bottom. At no point is the story sacrificed for the art. The haunting, sad final page of the story drives home the loneliness and mess that Odyssia leaves in her wake as Sebex Ero is left to ebb away into nothingness, the drugs slowly siphoning away her desire to live.
After being wary of the idea for fear of stunt casting, I’ve warmed up to the gender swapping and blending that Fraction has injected into this interpretation of “The Odyssey.” The novelistic approach to the storytelling combined with the gender updates and science fiction aspects make this feel like something that could have appeared in “Heavy Metal” magazine. It’s rich with ideas and just odd enough that reading the book feels like stepping into another world for a time. Fraction is known for going far afield (and I mean that in a good way), but this is well-balanced and focused. By allowing Ward and Cunniffe to cut loose on the art, Fraction gets to scratch his sci-fi comic itch while allowing his writing to be the point of entry for readers, an inverse to the artistic relationship in “Casanova.”
With breathtaking art and a fresh storytelling approach, “ODY-C” is shaping up to be an incredible ride. These are two great flavors that taste great together.