Okay, just to get this out of my system now because—OMG—Aeolus is a creepy, murderous, duplicitous jerk. There’s this. TELL ME THAT THIS ISN’T LITERALLY THE MOST TERRYFYING LEER IN THE HISTORY OF EVER. Ugh, and this is Aeolus at his least offensive.
(I’m still in the Land of How Unfair It Is with Christian Ward’s art. *sulks* Oh, I adore Ward’s art so! *sobs*) And, this issue of ODY-C is strangely moving us through several points in time—which actually isn’t strange for the Odyssey, so it shouldn’t be strange here, but it is—and takes us back to the last days of the Stellar Siege of Troiia-VII (i.e., the Trojan War) and how Hera ended it with a rather expertly executed, bamf-like-whoa seduction.
(Can we talk about how amazingly beautiful the World Tree Effect that Ward has used here is? And, how voyeuristic it is—in that way that’s intentional exhibitionism—that this is for us as readers? So good.) With the help of Hypnos. Who we see later in the issue when Poseidon goes to the as-yet-unnamed Erebos to demand a favor from Hypnos, the same favor that Hypnos granted Hera: a dream for Odyssia. Of the Horse that wins the war. Interestingly, Hypnos, who is telling Zeus about Poseidon trying to put the hurt on Hypnos— instead of Hypnos telling Hera who was actually involved in their conspiracy, but this is one of those times when Zeus was feigning ignorance (because that’s a thing Zeus does)—is not surrounded by the other denizens of sleep and dreams that would accompany Hypnos in Greek mythology; rather, Hypnos is surrounded by Grief, Pain, War, and Fear—all of whom look like they’re a combination of Hellraiser and Silent Hill. Just—we have mythological Cenobites and Pyramid Heads. I dunno what to think. And, Zeus’ always luxurious form. (But, they are strange and lovely and terrifying. How can such stunningly beautiful art sit in the same volume as images so adorable and images so horrifying—grotesque and sublime all at once? It’s an impressive talent—especially when horror is candy-colored.) In the rest of this issue that isn’t taken up by Days of Our Gods—that’s a show that should be made—Odyssia and her crew take refuge to repair the ODY-C with Aeolus (creep), and in exchange for a trip off his Island Planet of Miscreant Indulgences, Aeolus offers Odyssia a new starheart for the ODY-C. And, really, the cost doesn’t seem too high: passage upon the swiftship that Aeolus helped repair.
Except that Aeolus really is awful—really, really awful, like, Henry VIII levels of awful—and his personal paradise of an island planet holds a terrible secret. He murders women (and probably sebex) who don’t birth boys. And—this is one of those reminders that we’ve lost in the perfection of a mythos in which men are all but non-existent: the cruelty and horror that men can—and often do—enact.
This is mythological rape culture writ large with only Odyssia and the brave crew of the ODY-C to fight against it. And, they do fight back, but in a way that is just as unsettling as Aeolus’ sins: Odyssia sacrifices volunteers from her crew who do not lie with woman or sebex to distract Aeolus while the swiftship ODY-C escapes. With the starheart. In a universe where these women are marginalized, how can we be okay with this? I’m not sure we can be.
The ODY-C’s Crew:
- Story: Matt Fraction
- Art: Christian Ward
- Flatting: Dee Cunniffe
- Lettering: Chris Eliopoulos
- Design: Christian Ward and Drew Gill
- Backmatter Design: Laurenn McCubbin
Emma Houxbois is a fiercely queer trans woman from the wilds of Canada, most recently spotted in the Pacific Northwest. She is a two time IWC Women’s World Champion and has written about comics for the web since 2005 for sites including Playboy, Bitch Media, and Graphic Policy.