Review by Karl Verhoven
Although not explicitly stated as such, Odyssey is a rebooting of Wonder Woman with Diana knowing of her Amazon heritage, the Amazons under threat and Diana gradually discovering talents she was unaware of. Writers J. Michael Straczynski and Phil Hester continue to feed in altered versions of people Wonder Woman’s fans will know, such as the alternate Artemis, Cheetah and Giganta posing the threat in early chapters here, and signifiers of the familiar.
Odyssey Volume One presented the basics while mystifying readers, but not in a compelling way. This conclusion offers the answers, but additionally offers memorable moments, an example being a charming chapter featuring old enemy Dr. Psycho, making sense of him as he tours Diana through some other alternate lives. Elsewhere lesser known elements of Greek mythology continue to supply plot moments, although as before, the deus ex machina of “begone” is too frequently used. However, it’s far more apparent here that Straczynski and Hester are attempting to make sense of the contradictions of Wonder Woman’s life, such as the Amazon warrior who fights for peace.
Most of the art is again supplied by Don Kramer in his imaginatively open style, thrilling with the action scenes and supplying a glamour to the conversations. Unlike the first volume, though, other artists step in a for a chapter at a time, with both Geraldo Borges and Eduardo Pansica pencilling very appealing looking pages. The one mis-step is involving Lee Garbett for the finale. It’s not that his art is poor, but the sudden switch from Kramer is one of the few moments when Odyssey’s changing artists clash.
Some smart revelations occur, including the reasons the gods haven’t featured as strongly as they do in other Wonder Woman stories, and just how the person we’ve followed as Diana became what she is. A child’s drawing having such relevance is a great thoughtful touch. That these are so well configured makes it all the more puzzling why Straczynski’s method was to fill so much time with less than thrilling encounters over Volume One.
“It always comes down to some costumed lunatic filling the air between us with flailing fists” is the mournful caption introducing the concluding chapter, perhaps a wistful acknowledgement that the mythology of Wonder Woman is applied to a superhero comic when it offers far more. When originally serialised Odyssey was a thoughtful reconfiguration of Wonder Woman offering a way forward then totally ignored as DC rebooted their entire superhero line in 2011. As such it’s all prologue and no novel, which is a pity. Given the misgivings about the opening half, perhaps DC would be better reissuing the story in a single volume, when the creative vision would be apparent. The suspicion is that a considerable number who read the first volume didn’t bother coming back for this.