I don’t want to go off the hook and call Matt Fraction’s new book from Image Comics, ODY-C, triumphant, because it’s only one issue into its run. Who knows where the story will lead, but I will say it has me hooked and more excited to experience the series than most other books out there right now. I say “experience,” simply because that’s the only way to get something out of a book like this. It isn’t meant to be read like your typical, run-of-the-mill comic.
One of the birthday gifts my girlfriend bought me over the summer was a big, hardcover collection of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s The Metabarons. I was thrilled, as he’s one of my favorite filmmakers and I had just seen the documentary, Jodorowsky’s Dune, and was gushing on and on about his upcoming film. I cracked open the book with wide eyes and found an intro written by Matt Fraction, who apparently is a huge fan of Jodorowsky’s space opera.
Not long after, I heard the announcement that Fraction was writing his own space odyssey, and the light bulb went off in my head. What synchronicity for me as a comic book reader to be diving into ODY-C while I’m still slowly paging through The Metabarons (because it is a book that truly has to be taken in).
You have to be in the right frame of mind to flow with Fraction’s vision. ODY-C is a thriving combination of Homer’s The Odyssey, Jodorowsky’s The Metabarons, and some old school Clash of the Titans myth making, transplanting gods of the sea and Earth to gods of space. Don’t skip over the timeline in the opening foldout; it really sets you up for what the world is going to be and shows the inner workings of Fraction’s creative process. There’s a lot going on in his mind here, so many places for this story to go, too much to encapsulate in a simple review, except to say that we begin with one side of an interstellar war finally winning, but the meddlesome gods won’t allow it to end so simply (because intergalactic wars are simple to them – I hate gods . . . ), so they shoot the ODY-C, captain, and crew into even more danger.
In its telling Fraction has transgressed beyond word bubbles to squares, letting the dialogue appear in what would normally be voice-over boxes, allowing a more literary feel to the book. Even in details like this, he’s letting you know that he’s attempting something different. Let me tell you, his words are poetry. They simply flow. The layout of the book, cutting the book into chapters whenever there is a shift in perspective, the visual storytelling heightens the beginnings of this soon-to-be-sprawling drama.
It is operatic, both epic and personal. Christian Ward’s art captures this scope beautifully. The colors of the universe curl and twist in space creating chaotic beauty; the furthest reaches of the galaxy that we see here on Earth, they behold at the threshold of their windows. And, among this awesome palette of colors, the ODY-C craft, a sleek, white crescent cuts through everything in its path.
Fraction is shooting for the stars here (Pun intended.) inspired by at least one of the things that set him on his course as a creator. I opened the book and looking at the foldout thought, “This could be the next ten years of my life,” and a chill ran up my spine. He is one of the best creators in modern comic books, and while I’m sad to see Hawkeye ending before its time, all is forgiven. ODY-C is ambitious, and I’m excited to be on this journey with him as a reader.