Special thanks to Konkret Comics for providing a digital copy for review.
I don’t like writing negative reviews. I really don’t. I realize that putting yourself out there as a creative person and exposing your work to criticism takes no small amount of courage. At the same time, as a reviewer, I need to be honest about my feelings and opinions.
With Akolyte #1 Konkret Comics set a high bar for excellence in writing and artwork in an indie comic. I had hoped that in Odina #1 Konkret (in collaboration with Obsolete Studios) would live up to that standard of quality. Unfortunately, I was disappointed.
Let’s start with the writing. I always feel uncomfortable criticizing other people’s writing because, as a writer myself, I know how difficult a process it can be. Crafting a good sentence is no easy task and having an ear for dialogue is an acquired skill that takes time to develop. All that being said, there is no getting around the fact that this comic is poorly written. There is a lot of clunky and/or repetitive dialogue. Conversations between characters rarely ever sound like natural speech. The entire script reads like a first draft and it clearly needed several more passes before it was in a publishable state. The only conclusion I can draw from this is that there was little-or-no editing done on this comic. One scene in particular stands out for me: A key moment of lore exposition (that otherwise would have been interesting) is ruined by a glaring typo that renders an entire sentence meaningless and confuses the reader. It’s astounding that an error this obvious got by the writer, the editor, and the letterer without anyone catching it. The whole comic just feels like a rush job.
Before the story begins the reader has to absorb a big text-block of exposition that conveys little actual information about the world or the characters. This is unfortunate because, after a brief prologue, the reader is thrown right into an action scene while simultaneously being introduced to half a dozen characters (including the villain) and their abilities. Most of these characters are peripheral players; very few of them have significant roles in the plot.
Speaking of characters, perhaps the biggest strike against this comic is that Odina Troussard herself is an unlikable main protagonist. Odina bickers constantly with the other members of her team and acts like helping to save the world is nothing but a huge inconvenience to her. She seems to have a giant chip on her shoulder, but without any context for what’s bothering her or what her motivations are she’s simply off-putting. It’s fine to have a main character who’s carrying around wounds from her past and, as a consequence, shuts other people out or pushes them away. But without any backstory, the reader can’t make an emotional connection with the protagonist or care about her. Instead she comes off as abrasive and arrogant.
The artwork is passable, for the most part, though here and there characters display awkward stances or facial expressions. One quirk of the art that I noticed early on was the overuse of Dutch angles. They’re distributed seemingly at random throughout the book and it took me out of the story whenever I saw one. Only once in the entire issue is the Dutch angle used effectively: The introduction of the villain. Here it provides a sense of disorientation appropriate for an evil telepath. Overall, I found the art style to have a vaguely 90’s Marvel vibe to it.
***Skip to the final paragraph to avoid SPOILERS for Odina #1***
I do have some positive things to say about the plot. It’s clear that the writer has put a lot of thought into worldbuilding and that this first issue is set-up for bigger things to come. It is revealed that Felix, the telepathic villain mentioned above, is merely the puppet of some enigmatic third party. When Odina and Eclipse (another member of the hero team) arrive at Felix’s apartment to investigate, they are surprised to encounter two mysterious individuals: Arens and Asima. After a misunderstanding and a violent confrontation, Arens reveals himself to be a god of life, air, and wind. According to Arens, in ancient times gods roamed the earth and mated with humans creating a race of hybrids (I’m unsure why they’re not called “demigods”, which is the usual name for such things). Apparently, Felix is being controlled by one such hybrid, Lady Tiye, who seeks something called the Key of Atum in order to usher in chaos and the end of the world. All this is intriguing stuff and a good foundation for future issues. It’s a shame that poor editing and lackluster artwork detract from what would otherwise be a fascinating story.
In conclusion, while there are some interesting ideas in Odina #1 that may be developed in subsequent issues, the comic is overall a big disappointment, especially when compared to Akolyte, the previous Konkret title that I reviewed. But I want to end on a positive note. There’s a good comic buried in here somewhere, I can tell. I really hope that my criticism has been constructive not destructive, and that the Obsolete Studios team will learn important lessons from this first issue. I sincerely hope that future installments of this title live up to their potential.