It’s difficult to classify “ODY-C” as a comic book. It’s a graphic experiment, a narrative reexamination of one of literature’s most well-known tales tinged with a developing cultural knowledge of the unfortunate trappings that come with entrenched patriarchy. Matt Fraction and Christian Ward create and destroy and recreate a storytelling language with each issue. Much like the other books from Milkfed Criminal Masterminds Studios, “ODY-C” gives readers a glimpse into the background of the story and expounds on ideas relating to the point the creators attempt to make. There are moments within this issue — like the tale of Q’Af and how paradise is not all it is cracked up to be — where the experiment pushes against the simplicity of telling a straightforward story that almost harms the issue, and yet everything still holds together and open ups more of what is on the page with each reread.
Fraction’s stylized and sparse dialogue, given almost exclusively through narrative caption boxes, continues to create a unique rhythm across this issue. As readers are exposed to the story of Q’Af, the writer’s words are carefully selected and considered, more akin to curating the necessary diction for the story rather than the writing itself. It gives the series the epic feel befitting an adaptation of “The Odyssey.” This is a series about ideas more than characters, and how those characters serve to inform the ideas.
The style is a great choice but suffers a bit when multiple narrators guide the tale. In those moments, the substance of the discussion is almost overwhelmed by the writer’s choices. These moments are brief, though, and the back half of the issue benefits from a single voice delivering the story. It strips away the experimental portions for the most part and allows readers to ingest the impact of the final scenes.
Ward’s incredible art is the real highlight of the book. He lays out pages that push the reader across the page and fills the negative space with incredible designs and outrageous acid test coloring. The spiral double page spreads in the middle of the book are gorgeous, inventive and deliver a lot of information about how the characters’ lives opposed one another’s. Fraction and Ward maximize the storytelling strengths of the medium by showing, not telling, in these scenes. Ward shines in even smaller moments, such as during stanza 71 when the men ask to leave with Ene. Ward’s shot choices are simple yet well choreographed and make one think he would do well behind a camera.
This series is starting to transcend comics and become good art; it’s confident and focused with a solid point of view, yet open enough to interpretation that readers can take away what they choose when experiencing the story. “ODY-C” #7 takes chances and makes bold choices. Readers looking for a series developing its own unique universe should jump in.