Odyssey is a war-themed comic written by Dave Elliot and illustrated by Garrie Gastonny and Toby Cypress.
The story takes famous historical events and incorporates original super heroes into the mix. The protagonist may be a super hero but he’s also a government worker carrying out gritty military work.
The first thing that I thought about Odyssey was that it wasn’t the type of comic I usually pick up. I’ve read the likes of Civil War, Brubaker’s Captain America and other super hero comics with a war theme, but they’re not usually in my reading pile. I only point this out because I want to highlight that despite this, I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed Odyssey.
Pretty much immediately we are introduced to the main characters, it leads us into the narrative by cleverly positioning us as if a friend is telling the story. This is something I enjoyed as it made it feel as though I was acquainted with the main character and he was just narrating the story of his life.
The one area which stood out the most to me is the very sketchy morals of the characters. The comic seems to constantly be posing the question of “how far can you go before it’s no longer justice?” It’s always interesting to watch characters question their morals, it shows how far they are willing to go in order to do something for the “greater good,” as readers we can wonder this too. As with most media concerning war, there are many harrowing scenes which are not for anyone easily upset. Some of the scenes shown are still very fresh in a lot of people’s minds and I believe that the comic could have gotten the point across without using real-life examples. It really shows the brutality of war, with characters not caring about the harm they are causing, again fighting for the “greater good” while everything and everyone in their way is just collateral damage. There is even a scene where protesters are referred to as animals just because they are expressing their anti-war opinion in a peaceful protest.
Although I’m not generally into war stories, I’m still fond of things which focus on the mental state of the characters. Odyssey lets you get to know the characters slowly across the story. In this way the comic leaves you questioning motives, entire characters and the explanations we’re given. You never really know exactly why someone is doing what they’re up to.
There are some issues with the tone of the comic where things seem to clash a little too much. For example, in amongst all the horror and the mayhem there is still a lot of humour thrown in. The juxtaposition is likely on purpose but it still felt quite misplaced.
The artwork is very clean and almost out of place in scenes, especially when they’re depicting such horror, it almost seems crazy to have it so well drawn and coloured when what’s depicted is so awful. This being said, it does help to bring out the unique qualities in all of the characters and gives them a sense of individuality and life. This mixed with the interesting story makes the volume an easy read, if you can handle the distressing images anyway.
Overall it’s a very fun and unique story but it’s thrown in amongst a sea of serious content. The pacing is a little odd, and at points the plot can get just a little bit confusing, but overall it is a good read. There’s a moral behind the story too and some things to think about beyond just random violence. It’s not suitable for those easily offended and it definitely isn’t for children, but for everyone else I recommend giving it a go.