Dark fantasy and dark fun are the order of the day in this new take on the classic hero’s quest saga from Doug Wagner and Tim Odland. The seemingly cursed Prince Helgi must return the Eye of Odin to its rightful owner, or die. But to do that he must travel across a dangerous Norse landscape filled with trolls, fearful faeries and more with just two travelling companions at his side.
In the past writer Doug Wagner has often turned his writing talents and sly humour towards crime fiction and even the blackest of comedy, but now he’s targeting the fantasy genre and the classic hero’s quest, in Beware The Eye of Odin #1. Albeit with some minor adjustments. The hero of this particular Norse based quest, Prince Helgi, thinks he’s cursed, but the so too does the rest of his community, while his two travelling companions are also somewhat broken figures in their different ways. Stigr, once a brave warrior who lost an arm, one presumes, in battle long ago, while Kadlin thinks she’s a Valkyrie, suggesting she’s a few gold coins short of a full treasure chest, if you know what I mean. But together they make for fine travelling companions. Well, from the readers point of view at least. Kadlin, an unwelcome guest, grates on Helgi’s nerves from the offset.
And speaking of such things, from the opening pages Wagner populates this Scandinavian saga with familiar faerie folk, trolls and giants befitting such titanic tales. The first double page spread alone sets the bar for this story with a rather epic takedown we only get to see the aftermath of. And it’s out the gates at an adventurous pace from there on in really. In the first issue alone we get to meet all kinds of incredible fantasy creatures only too happy to take advantage of the travellers on the danger-ridden roads of this Norse landscape. A landscape that seems somewhat influenced by the etchings of the great fantasy artist Arthur Rackham peeping through Tim Odland’s own engaging and evocative style, particularly when it comes to the design of the various monsters, great and small, inhabiting this book. This sense of Rackham being an influence on the style of this series is only emphasised for me by some of Michelle Madsen’s colouring that seem to homage the sepia and earthy tones Rackham often utilised in is own dark drawings. Based on the results of this first issue, Odland was destined to draw dark fantasy. And in his representation of this Viking landscape he is most definitely channelling and creating a more darker, threatening fantasy world. One that hints at hidden dangers around every corner. It all makes for some gripping, engrossing storytelling. And some gross-out storytelling too. Well, this is Wagner we are talking about. He does love his gore. But, it’s very much in keeping with the whole tone of this comic book.
As with any such quest there’s test, allies and enemies, but for now the road they travel is fraught with the latter. And they come in all shapes and sizes. And all of then deadly in some way or other. All out for the titular Eye of Odin that Prince Helgi must return to its rightful owner. Which isn’t Odin, as you might imagine. And so Wagner, Odland and company set up an axe-wielding, magical and mythological adventure that will span four issues with this debut issue being oversized and, as a result, heaving with character set-up and action.
One part The Lord of the Rings and another part Netflix’s Norsemen, Beware The Eye of Odin #1 is a comic book that is great new take on classic Norse folklore figures. A dark fantasy with plenty of light moments too.
Beware The Eye of Odin #1 is out June 22nd from Image Comics