Brace yourself for a huge shock ladies and gentlemen!
In high school I was a bit of a nerd. Alright, more than a bit. I was a giant, unstoppable, ridiculous nerd. And this was the mid to late ‘90s, where being a huge nerd was a lot harder than it is today. I didn’t get internet access in my home until about 1996, and even then it was dial up, which meant that after waiting ten minutes for a single photo to download, all my hard work would be lost when my grandmother would call to talk to my mother about what was for dinner that night.
Back then, nerds had to put in the leg work to scratch that nerdy itch, which for me meant spending a lot of time in both the school and the public library, digging through stacks to try to find anything that was even closely related to the things I loved. By the time I had graduated high school I had already exhausted all of the sci-fi at our local public library, had raided most of the paperback book exchanges in a ten mile radius, and even gotten a part time job just to afford my own TV and VCR to watch bootleg copies of Red Dwarf, Doctor Who, and Star Trek.
Having hit a wall, I started to branch out to other, seemingly adjacent, areas to my interests, and one of the biggest side quests I went on was the pursuit of ancient mythology. Greek and Roman myth held little interest to me, mainly because they were already so well known and done to death that I knew most of the stories from school. No, what I was interested in were the mythologies that didn’t get as much attention, specifically the Norse Myths.
Now, you have to remember that this is before the MCU, so while characters like Thor were kind of in the public consciousness, at least to enough of a degree that people recognized the name, the majority of people were not super well-versed in these tales, and as such I was instantly attracted to them. I read everything I could get my hands on. The original tales translated and retranslated, a handful of books that were loosely based on the characters, and the works of Neil Gaiman all made it into my reading piles (2001’s American Gods was my Woodstock). I was obsessed with understanding everything I could about that wild lore, and I’m sure I made a nuisance of myself like I did with everything else I was obsessed with growing up.
That’s right, I was that guy at the party who used to say “Oh yeah, I was into Freyja way before the Marvel movies.” (Just kidding, I didn’t get invited to parties.)
There are three takeaways from today’s ramble.:
1) I was, and still am, a huge nerd.
2) We are living in a golden age of nerd culture, and
3) I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Norse Mythology.
Which brings us to today’s work, Beware the Eye of Odin by creator Doug Wagner, artist Tim Odland and colorist Michelle Madsen, a book that uses the setting and trappings of ancient Norse myth to tell a brand new story.
Does it work? Well let’s crack into today’s book and see for ourselves!
Here’s the blurb:
VINYL and PLASTIC creator DOUG WAGNER returns with artist TIM ODLAND and colorist MICHELLE MADSEN to bring you a tale of Vikings, Trolls, Frost Giants, and Valkyries.
When a Viking prince finds the Eye of Odin, he must return it to its rightful owner or face a death of boils and decay. By his side are a one-armed warrior past his prime and a female warrior convinced she’s a Valkyrie. Monstrous mayhem ensues.
A lot of people will know this creative team from Vinyl, a book that garnered a lot of praise and hype from folks I know, but wasn’t really my cup of tea, so to speak. It wasn’t bad, it just didn’t really grab me the way that it did others, and that’s OK. People can like different things and it doesn’t mean they are bad or wrong, just that we will have different interests.
But see, here’s the thing. On paper, I should love everything about Beware The Eye of Odin. Its got everything I love: Vikings, warrior women, mythology, monsters, trolls, a quest! I should have loved every single page of this book. And yet…
It’s not that this is a bad book. It isn’t. Beware The Eye of Odin is a fun book with a really interesting idea behind it. I like the premise, the set up, the cast. Everything about it is interesting and unique in its own way, but still…
I think the issue with this first, um, issue, is that it feel kind of rushed. While reading it I stopped twice to check and see if I had actually been reading the second issue, because there is just so much happening here and the plot is moving so fast that I am not really sure 100% what is actually happening.
This kind of frenetic style of writing is also what caused problems for me with Vinyl. Wagner has a tendency to just toss the reader into a story and hope they catch up while they go, and while that can work, for me I wanted more.
Part of the problem is that Beware The Eye of Odin is only a four issue series, and as such the first issue is really dedicated to moving things along at a breakneck speed so that we can get to the actual quest. Characters do things because the plot needs them to, and we don’t really have time to question them. We have a place we need them to be by the end of each issue, and we will get them there by any means nessicarily.
And that’s really a shame because Beware The Eye of Odin has tremendous potential. This creative team has established an interesting group of characters and a fun world that I would really enjoy spending a lot more time in. The premise of this book is really cool. Our hero has to return the Eye of Odin to it’s rightful owner or they will suffer a terrible death. The main character is a Viking prince who believes himself to be cursed, and as such does not want others to travel with him on his quest, but who is forced to accept help from people he cares about if he has any hope of success.
That’s a great premise and an interesting way to start, and I really wish Beware The Eye of Odin was eight to twelve issues and they could have spent more time on this set up. The reluctant hero trope is not nearly as well used anymore as it once was, with most people in movies and comics immediately leaping at the chance to become a superhero or go on an adventure. I would be nice to see a character that is an unbeliever forced to confront the ever unfolding truth of Viking lore, and be more dedicated to doing it without harming others, but the four issue length is really forcing this story along a lot quicker than it needs to be.
Still, I did enjoy a lot of this Beware the Eye of Odin, and I do encourage you to read it for yourself and make up your own mind. Like I said, I do have a soft spot for Norse myth, and that really does make me want to stick with this book.
If you liked this team’s other works I really think you will like Beware the Eye of Odin too. As I said, different people can like different things, and I know there will be big fans of this story. What I hope is that it gets enough fans that the team is able to come back to this world after the series wraps and have another go at this world. There is a lot of great stuff here I’d love to see fleshed out more.
Until next time, stay safe!