Norse mythology is definitely having a moment in pop culture. Between Thor's involvement in recent Marvel Comics events, everything Asgard-related in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Netflix's Ragnarok and the 2018 God of War PlayStation game, concepts like the Æsir, Ragnarok, the Nine Realms, the Bifrost and frost giants have become well-known concepts. So if you're going to do some sort of interpretation of Norse Mythology via a new comics series, you need something that's not just compelling but also has a unique take on the source material. Beware The Eye of Odin #1 has a bit of the latter but lacks the former, making for an underwhelming introduction.
To start out with the positives, the comic certainly hits the ground running. By the third page there's already a beheaded frost giant and our hero, Hilgi, has the titular Eye and a quest to return it to Mimir within a month before he dies. He's joined on his quest by a one-armed blacksmith and former warrior Stigr and Kadlin, a woman who believes she's a Valkyrie (the jury is still out on that one). Also, the action is wonderfully brutal and Tim Odland's artwork really shines through with the creature designs (e.g. multi-headed trolls, a battle swine, a swarm of Hundrafolk, the aforementioned frost giant head) and certain background details.
Unfortunately, for every step forward the issue makes it takes two back. The story's forward momentum is appreciated but 48 pages in and we still know very little about the three heroes. Hilgi suffers the most as a result, coming off as a whiny sourpuss while being generally unpleasant to everyone to everyone around him as he mopes about his "curse." And for as good as Odland's art can be, his designs for human faces are downright unsettling at times, especially when there's a close-up of Kadlin or Stigr.
It also can't help but remind the reader of other properties that have handled the source material better. The main quest, Hilgi's axe and the reference to Mimir all had me immediately thinking of Kratos in God of War (2018) and how well that property handled the concept of introducing characters into the realm of Midgard.
Aside from those aforementioned close-ups, there's nothing offensively bad about Beware The Eye of Odin #1. And it's possible the story picks up steam in the next three installments. But as an introduction, it struggles to find its footing.
Published by Image Comics
On June 22, 2022
Written by Doug Wagner
Art by Tim Odland
Colors by Michelle Madsen
Letters by Ed Dukeshire
Cover by Tim Odland and Michelle Madsen