Indie Comics Spotlight: Ody-C, Fight Like a Girl, Transformers

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By: Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)



Ody-C #1

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“Cunning Odyssia prays.”

When you’re far from home, you either like being on the road or just wish you were back in your bed. Odysseus was a man who started to enjoy being far from home, but then did everything in his power to get back. It’s a timeless story that’s getting a space opera treatment in Ody-C #1 from Image Comics. The issue is written by Matt Fraction, illustrated by Christian Ward, flatted by Dee Cunniffe, and lettered by Chris Eliopoulos.

An epic 26 centuries in the making: In the aftermath of a galactic war a hundred years long, Odyssia the Clever Champion and her compatriots begin their longest, strangest trip yet – the one home. It’s a tale all too familiar to many, save for the gender swap and alarmingly trippy feel.

The tale of Odysseus is one rife with peril, danger, and excitement. It’s also extremely well-known, which gives Fraction an advantage in Ody-C #1 in that he can tap into that knowledge on the part of the reader. Where Fraction takes the story, though, is a direction that’s significantly more ethereal in many ways. Odyssia plays the part of the hero destined to make her way home and Fraction’s space setting raises the stakes dramatically. Her trials and tribulations feel grander, even though her journey has been told and retold countless times over the centuries. There are also some fantastic nuances to how Fraction presents the story, leaving in what seems to be a lot of the direction from the script, which gives the reader the sense that they’re watching Odyssia as she makes her way through the universe.

The look and feel of Ody-C #1 is very unique and Ward does a fantastic job of creating a rather glorious setting for Odyssia to make her way through. The painted style makes the work feel as old as the story it’s based off of, with all the characters showcasing larger-than-life personas. There are some pretty breathtaking spreads throughout the book as well that further underscore the magnitude of this work. The book also pops with vivid colors that converge on one another to present what essentially appears to be a dream manifested in a comic book. In other words, the art is fantastic and fits perfectly with Fraction’s narrative.

Ody-C #1 came from a desire to collaborate between Fraction and Ward; thankfully for everyone else, they managed to actually get together. The first issue is nothing if not ambitious and handles the well-regarded tale effortlessly, recounting the events in their own way that emphasizes women as the powerful rulers. Fraction’s script is airy and floats along from one page to the next, giving the reader just enough to keep up. Ward’s illustrations come across as if they were unearthed after centuries of hiding, adding a sense of antiquity to an already ancient tale. Ody-C #1 is a very interesting first issue that blends a great story with beautiful art, all while subverting social norms and coming close to creating their own Barbarella.

Ody-C #1 is in stores now.


Fight Like a Girl #1

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“Her fate is up to us and his fate is up to her. Let’s let it be and press forward.”

The phrase “fight like a girl” is often used as a derogatory insult toward a man, insinuating that the man is fighting somewhat weakly and would only be evenly matched by a woman. There’s another side to the phrase, though, with the implication being that a woman who “fights like a girl” is actually fighting with great ferocity in defense of a cause deemed worthy of fighting for. Action Lab has made a name for itself offering up strong female characters, so it should come as no surprise that the publisher relies on the latter definition for their new book Fight Like a Girl #1. The issue is written by David Pinckney and illustrated by Soo Lee.

Standing before a jury of nine gods, Amarosa pleads for a chance to risk her life and gain entry to the Wishing Well where she will attempt to fight her way through and survive nine trials to claim her prize: a single wish that will save her terminally-ill brother. What ensues is a Hunger Games-like competition where it’s Amarosa against the world, where the world is represented by all sorts of crazy opponents.

Fight Like a Girl #1 more or less hits the ground running, as Pinckney seems content to get the core of the plot out of the way so that he can further explore the trials themselves. It definitely ensures the reader is fully aware of what Amarosa is fighting for, but the stakes if she loses are still really fuzzy. They’re alluded to quite frequently as something pretty terrible, but Pinckney never explicitly states what they are; this is really effective for maintaining a tension throughout all of her upcoming battles. The world Amarosa lives in is curious as well, considering she approaches a panel of gods for the right to pursue this quest. (The gods are a mishmash of religions, too, with Loki rubbing shoulders with Chronos and Fortuna).

Fight Like a Girl #1 boasts a pretty standard panel layout, but Lee’s illustrations have an incomplete feel to them. That’s not to say the work is bad, but Lee takes a very minimal approach to the art that eschews detail for more of a sketch-like quality. Backgrounds are embodied by seemingly harsh strokes and lines, all of which adds a dark pall over the book in general. Colors skew darker as well, making some of the action a little difficult to completely discern when comparing the character to the background. Even still, there’s a kinetic energy to the fighting in the second half of the book that feels chaotic, really underscoring the true difficulty Amarosa faces in her first trial.

Fight Like a Girl #1 offers a unique premise in Amarosa’s fight to save her brother. Fighting through the trials feels sufficiently harrowing, especially considering the stakes and the inclusion of a plethora of varying gods and goddesses. Pinckney’s story capitalizes on the deism aspect, as the entire book has a certain detachment to it that fits with the concept of the gods observing. Lee’s illustrations are somewhat simple yet gritty, relying on simple backgrounds and characters who mesh together to present a slightly more complex complete picture. Fight Like a Girl #1 offers a lot in the first issue that will pique the reader’s interest as they follow along with her trials and delve deeper into her world.

Fight Like a Girl #1 is in stores now.


Transformers Drift: Empire of Stone #1

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“There’s no point in living if you sacrifice everything you are to do it.”

For as much as Optimus Prime worries about other races in the galaxy being hurt by his ongoing war with the Decepticons, there really doesn’t really seem to be anyone willing to make their safety priority number one. It takes a special Transformer to set aside their investment in the war on either side to so. A Transformer like Drift, recently exiled and looking for his own personal redemption in Transformers Drift: Empire of Stone #1 from IDW Entertainment. The issue is written by Shane McCarthy and illustrated by Guido Guidi.

After Drift’s exile from the Autobots, he decided to help the helpless. Now he’s alone and on a mission to clean up the darkest depths of the galaxy. His journey takes him all over the galaxy and he even crosses paths with Ratchet. No matter what he does, though, he can’t seem to escape his past as either a disgraced Autobot or former Decepticon named Deadlock.

The Transformers universe has always been about the Autobots and the Decepticons waging their war against one another across the galaxy. Most of the time, that war spills over to other civilizations in a way where the Autobots feel obliged to save the civilization being currently threatened as a result of their war. McCarthy takes things in a different direction, presenting Drift as a character no longer beholden to either side, but aware that the ever-raging wars have a lot of collateral damage. Drift travels through the universe as a ronin, content with helping those who need help and not getting caught up in serving either side. McCarthy’s dialogue shows Drift’s embodiment of this approach, as he’s content to let the Autobots and Decepticons continue to wage their war as long as innocent civilizations don’t get hurt and he can stay out of the fray.

Considering Transformers Drift: Empire of Stone #1 is rife with robots, Guidi does a masterful job of making them feel anything but robotic. Drift is depicted as moving effortlessly through combat, bolstering his presentation as a samurai proficient with sword. Guidi does a great job depicting the size of the Transformers in the early pages, showing Drift towering over the creatures he could just as easily crush. On the flip side, when compared to other Transformers, there’s still some sense of size difference between the characters that makes them feel less like robots and more like individual characters. There’s also a lot of frenetic fighting that Guidi handles deftly, offering battles that blend both sophisticated weaponry and barebones brawling.

Transformers Drift: Empire of Stone #1 is an entry in the Transformers universe that takes the emphasis away from Megatron and Optimus Prime (and their war) and focuses on a different aspect of being a Transformer. In the case of Drift, that aspect is being non-committal to either side and really just wanting to help those who have been negatively affected by the Cybertronian war. McCarthy’s story moves along well in following Drift and his new focus, but the backstory surrounding his exile isn’t really explored, which means you’ll have to do some other reading to gain full insights into his thought process. Guidi’s art is fantastic and offers a great, kinetic look at Transformers who aren’t shy about showcasing a wide range of emotions and physical capabilities. Transformers Drift: Empire of Stone #1 is a solid first issue that explores some of the lesser-known characters in the universe.

Transformers Drift: Empire of Stone #1 is in stores now.


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