May 12, 2015

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 77: ODY-C #1, November 2014

Yesterday I headed out to Another Dimension, one of our local comic stores, and rifled through their dollar bins for some interesting reads. I picked up a couple of alternative titles too, just for the sake of variety. Then I walked up to Phoenix Comics, which I suppose is "my" comic store, and grabbed some stuff there too. Our income tax refunds came in, so I had a bit of spending cash, and I thought I'd invest a bit in what, to me at least, looks very much like an Image Comics renaissance. Not only do they have absolutely tons of titles coming out, but they all look really, really interesting. So I picked up initial issues of Ray Fawkes' Intersect, Ales Kot and Langdon Foss' The Surface (which utterly blew my mind), Jimmie Robinson's The Empty, and that one up above, Matt Fraction and Christian Ward's gender-bent science fiction retelling of The Odyssey.

How many times can we have a retelling of this venerable tale? The answer, probably, is that we can retell it infinitely, since its one of the foundational stories of our culture. Fraction and Ward's take on it is creative, complex, and really, really colourful. In fact, at the back of the comic Fraction notes that he wanted a comic that looked a bit like Cirque du Soleil, and that's exactly what he's got. It is the brightest comic I've read outside of some of the children's stuff I've been reading. Which, I'll admit, was a draw for me (pun intended). This comic looks like nothing else that's out there right now. Aside from the colours, there's a giant gate-fold map and chronology backed with a huge picture of the fall of Troiia, and the panel breakdowns are fluid and creative. There's little actual dialogue in the form of speech bubbles, the majority of the tale being told in text boxes by a strangely contemporary-sounding Homeric analogue. Fraction has paid attention to his source material. We have some wonderful call-backs to the Epic tradition, giving Odyssia mnemonic titles, and throwing in the occasional epic similie. These things make me happy, and give the comic a feel that's entirely different from the more traditional (i.e., superhero-inflected) retelling in graphic format.

Oh, and everyone in the comic is either a woman or intersex (Sebeks). There are two men, so far, in total. I guess the space Olympians (that's right, it's all set in interstellar space instead of the Mediterranean) destroyed all the men as a punishment to humankind, then created the Sebeks so that the species could continue to reproduce.

Anyway, I have to say I'm on board for this one, at least for a while. I'm fascinated by adaptations, especially ones that don't simply retell a story, but add something interesting to it (Manara's Gullivera, or Manga Shakespeare's adaptation of Hamlet, for example). If you're looking for something very different and very interesting, this is for you. I'll keep you posted as to how it all progresses.

See you tomorrow.

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