The Asgardians 1: Odin George O’Connor graphic novel book reviewsThe Asgardians 1: Odin George O’Connor graphic novel book reviewsTHE ASGARDIANS 1: Odin by George O’Connor

What do you do when you finish a 12-title series of graphic novels (THE OLYMPIANS) covering a huge chunk of Greek mythology, one that should be a required purchase for all parents, libraries, and schools? Well, if you’re George O’Connor, apparently you look around and go, “Who’s next?” The answer, it turns out, is THE ASGARDIANS. And thank the Norse gods for that.

O’Connor opens up his new series with Odin, which makes sense since the All-Father was there from pretty nigh on the beginning. The story though opens first with the grisly aftermath of a battle, with corpses lying scattered across a snowy waste. But then the “buzzing of flies, the cries of carrion birds, and the howl of the bitter north wind” are interrupted by hoofbeats and then the appearance of “beautiful, unearthly women in gleaming armor who gather some of the slain, including the “you” of the second person narration. And soon we arrive at a vast hall filled with warriors and there our stand-in gets the story of the world’s creation, of Asgard, and of Odin from three figures named High, Just-as-High, and Third (or are they three figures?).

The Asgardians 1: Odin George O’Connor graphic novel book reviews

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This is not the Marvel Cinematic Universe version of Norse mythology (or the Marvel comics version either). O’Connor has gone straight to the main sources, The Prose Edda and The Poetic Edda. So if your knowledge of Norse myths comes from the MCU, some of this will be familiar (Odin is still lord of Asgard, Thor still has a hammer, there are nine worlds, etc.), some will be not at all what you “know” (Loki and Thor for instance are not half-brothers), and much of it will be wholly unfamiliar. That last holds true even if you’ve read some version (typically abridged) of the Eddas, as O’Connor goes deep into the mythos here, as he did with the Greek myths in his prior series. I’ve read a number of retellings of Norse myths even since I was a kid and up to recent times, and while I recognized the Great TreeYggdrasil and its squirrel Rtatoskr amongst other elements and stories, there was a lot here (a lot) I’d either forgotten or not come across.

Beyond the expected creation story and the introduction to the logistics of the universe (the Tree, Midgard, Asgard, etc.), we get the conflicts with the Jotnar (here more accurately presented as “Not-Aesir” rather than the over-simplified “giants”) and the Vanir, Odin’s sacrifice on the tree and of his eye for wisdom, the arrival of his raven Thoughts and Memories, conversations with the head of Mimir, and an absolutely wonderful story of the source of mortal inspiration and also of “truly awful poetry.” The night’s story ends with a reference to the “twilight of the gods” and Odin’s amassing of a vast army to prevent it. The graphic novel closes with a glossary and some fascinating and informative line notes filling in some more details or explanations of various panels/pages.

The Asgardians 1: Odin George O’Connor graphic novel book reviews

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The story is content-heavy, as O’Connor has a lot of world-building to do here in this first book, as well as introducing a number of pantheon members, various conflicts, and some foundational concepts such as runes, Ragnarok (though it isn’t named as such yet), and more. Despite how much content there is, the story moves at a good pace. O’Connor also mixes up the tone, with some elements being more than a little grim (that opening corpse-field, the plucking out of an eye, an immolation) and others being wryly humorous, though there’s less of the latter than the former. Meanwhile, there’s a sense of otherness that hangs over it all, which makes it seem all the more mythic as opposed to a consumer-friendly repackaging aimed at going down easily. The way, for instance, that O’Connor as noted doesn’t go with the easier “frost giant” categorization, or the way he introduces the complexity (or perhaps retains the complexity is a better way of putting it) of the three speakers High, Just-as-High, and Third.

The artwork (colored by Norm Grock) is as varied as the story, encompassing the barren grey/white of the snowy battlefield, the warm reddish-brown of Odin’s vast hall, the starkness of the pre-world, and of course the multiple colors of the Bifrost Bridge. The art is mostly contained in smaller panels in this installment (in memory there were larger panels in the OLYMPIANS series, but I could be wrong in my recollection), with only a few large-scale drawings, such as the opening battlefield and the illustration of the world tree and the nine worlds nestled within it.

I gave rave reviews to that first series, and the way Odin starts of this new one gives me no doubt that THE ASGARDIANS will be just as great a series as THE OLYMPIANS was and having preferred these Norse tales to the Greek ones since I was in elementary school, I’m looking even more forward to this collection. Highly recommended.

Published in March 2024. Welcome to the Nine Worlds, home of Gods, Valkyries, Dwarves, Jotnar, and more! Travel the burning rainbow bridge to Asgard where Odin, king of the Aesir, surveys his realm. His thirst for knowledge drives him ever onward, but nothing is learned without sacrifice. In Asgardians, George O’Connor’s highly kinetic illustrations bring these gritty and astonishing tales of war, betrayal, and the quest for enlightenment at any cost to vivid and startling life and provide the perfect companion to his Olympians series.


  • Bill Capossere

    BILL CAPOSSERE, who's been with us since June 2007, lives in Rochester NY, where he is an English adjunct by day and a writer by night. His essays and stories have appeared in Colorado Review, Rosebud, Alaska Quarterly, and other literary journals, along with a few anthologies, and been recognized in the "Notable Essays" section of Best American Essays. His children's work has appeared in several magazines, while his plays have been given stage readings at GEVA Theatre and Bristol Valley Playhouse. When he's not writing, reading, reviewing, or teaching, he can usually be found with his wife and son on the frisbee golf course or the ultimate frisbee field.