Before he was called king, ruler, protector, conqueror, butcher, desecrator, God of War and Wisdom, husband, father and Allfather, Odin Borson was but a prince of Asgard. Once, he was Odin, God of Logic and Thought, nicknamed Odin the Dispassionate.
A moniker lost to the annals of history and remembered by none but himself in the age of his children in the twilight years of his reign many centuries after this tale. The tale where the being who would shape the Nine Realms and beyond was born.
It began, as many great and terrible things do, with the coming of war.
Midgard, youngest and most savage of all the Nine Realms came under threat of annihilation from beings born of a cataclysmic clash of Gods from afar: the self-proclaimed New Gods of Apokalips. A twisted inverse of the Realm Eternal. Where Asgard shined in golden beauty, Apokalips was a blackened, eternally fire-spewing machine of war. All in service to a creature seeking no less than the subjugation of all living things through a fabled power known as the Anti-Life Equation.
Odin would not live to see whether it existed or not, but he and his aged father Bor would unknowingly delay it's discovery.
When the skies of Midgard were blackened by the arrival of Apokaliptian forces, and Yggdrasil itself quivered in fear, Asgard went to war, but not alone. Incredible beings celebrated as Gods before the Asgardians, joined them and brought armies of their own into the fray. Warrior women devoted to peace, masters of the sea and the disparate tribes of Man, of the Wolf, the Bear, and the Bird, the first masters of the mystic arts and even allies from other worlds who's wills could crack armies asunder.
Their titanic clash unfolded upon the scorched plains of Midgard. Countless men, women, and creatures of all sizes collided against one another to stem the tide of evil. It was in the midst of this madness not felt by an Asgardian since the culling of the Dark Elves, where Odin Borson was found.
Just a handful of centuries old, still but a boy in the eyes of his kin, the youth clad in the golden armor of his Realm was, as Midgardian's would later say, the calm eye of the storm.
While his allies shouted in triumph and terror, the beasts of Apokalips growled and clawed their way to victory, Odin Borson felt almost nothing.
Wielding a lesser Uru Oversword ceremonially wielded by the crown prince, he slashed, cleaved and stabbed his way through the myriad of beasts unfortunate enough to cross his path. All without a movement wasted.
Where other great warriors assembled there such as Antiope of the Amazon's leaped this way and there or sorcerer Agamotto conjured incredible displays of trickery and dimensional manipulation around the battlefield, Odin felled all in his path with a practiced ease in one, two or at most, three motions of his blade.
It did not matter if his foe was one of Apokalips' insect troops, their hounds the size of a Jotun or their blood-red machine men, the crown prince put them all to the sword with ruthless efficiency.
All without changing his expression, it did not visibly matter to him if his eyes fell on an ally torn apart or an enemy charging towards him, dispassion was Odin's response to all of this. For the young Asgardian knew anything else would mean his end.
The alternative cost him his older brothers, Vili and Ve who's legendary battle rage made them foolish enough to challenge the entire Jotun race to a battle while Odin was barely a boy. Nothing was left of them but the Oversword he wielded and a lesson they imparted to the third born son of Bor: control was key.
Yet for all his attempts of accomplishing absolute self-control, even the so-called dispassionate one always felt a spark burning inside his chest in the heat of battle.
It was stronger than an instinct but not quite a seductive voice whispering in the caverns of his mind. It was always there, and always he fought it back. There were even days he was able to fool himself into believing he'd conquered the temper passed on through his family.
He'd secretly feared his first true war would make it harder yet even here, amidst the greatest conflict he'd encountered thus far, Odin Borson's control held.
For a time.
In the 15th hour of battle, when the Green Lantern, Yalan Gur, after forming a device capable of unleashing thousands of spears to hack through the insectoid aerial forces of Apokalips found his concentration broken.
A being, five feet taller than Odin himself, leaped into the sky from the carnage of battle and with his fiery ax cut through the green construct in but a single swing. The son of Bor watched with a greatly masked awe and fear as Yalan Gur tried and failed to resist his enemy, suffering swing upon swing until the blade finally burned into his chest. His ring abandoned the battle immediately.
Steppenwolf, his murderer and leader of the Apokaliptian forces, a ghastly creature with grotesque facial features and a grey armor that looked almost forgettable next to the colorful garbs of his forces smiled as he observed it leave.
Not even when Zeus and Ares, beings called Gods by the men and women of Midgard assaulted him with lightning and blade did it falter. Ares, the God of War, who aided his father by driving an ax into Steppenwolf's armor momentarily brought him down to his knees. The Apokaliptian recovered mere moments later and with a simple twist of his wrist, snapped the weapon in half.
Were it not for Zeus' storm of lightning, his son would have been cut in two. For half a heartbeat, the lightning kept Steppenwolf at bay but even from across the battlefield, Odin saw his frightening smile and couldn't quite keep himself steady as the Apokaliptian grabbed his foe by the head and brought him down again, and again, and again through the scorched ground.
It was only Odin's father, Bor, who managed to delay Zeus' inevitable demise. With a mighty battle shout and a thrust from his spear, Gungnir, a flash of brilliant light struck Steppenwolf and enveloped him entirely.
So powerful was the blast that all surrounding creatures, ally, and foe alike, were devoured. However, Odin knew one such as Steppenwolf would not fall so easily and neither did Bor who immediately charged the enemy commander as soon as the blast dissipated.
Thus ensued a mighty clash of powers the likes of which Odin would remember in his nightmares for all his days. Steppenwolf, smiling and burning with the red flames of his homeworld and Bor, past his prime but powerful still, traded blows of such increasing force, such sky splitting, earth-rending, sea boiling power, that none dared join the fray.
It was in this midst of golden light and blood-red hellfire, that Odin for a few brief moments saw his father, not as the aged ruler of Asgardian with a grey beard and wrinkled skin, eyes that witnessed too much even for the long lifespan of their species.
In those scant few moments, Odin's self-control evaporated and in childlike awe, he saw Bor as a young man. Strong, at the apex of his strength and ready to challenge all of the Realms to battle and defeat them. It was said that exceptional beings such as them, in great moments of stress and battle, were able to transcend their abilities and burn as bright as a star.
But stars, as all things, burn out and so did Bor. Where once his slashes and thrusts were powerful and decisive, the shining glow from Gungnir and Bor himself slowly but surely faltered alongside his strength.
Odin would, as an older man who'd felt the coldest dispassion to the heights of fury many millennia from this event, curse himself for not staying true. If he had not fallen to an awe-filled stupor, he could have seen this outcome and changed so many things.
He did not. Too late did the son intervene in his fathers battle, too late save him or slay their enemy. Not swiftly enough did he succeed at carving a swath through his opposition. By the time Odin reached his father who was left kneeling and defenseless at the feet of the grinning Steppenwolf, the Apokaliptian's ax had already separated his head from his body.
Odin sank to his knees, his sword abandoned as he stared at the headless corpse of his father, the only family he had left. He didn't even get the chance to touch him one last time before his body dissolved itself into the Borforce.
His stupor might have lasted permanently, might have cost him his life and countless others. But it was one more act from the enemy which birthed the ruler of Asgard who would come to equal and surpass his reputation.
Steppenwolf laughed at the sigh of the distraught Odin and with it, unleashed the fury of all those born from Buri.
A shout mightier even then Bor's own burst from the chest of Odin and did not halt until the battle was done. Snatching Gungnir and wielding it alongside his Oversword, the crown prince of Asgard unleashed blow after blow at Steppenwolf, an unyielding series of motions all created with the intent of destroying the Apokaliptian.
Steppenwolf responded with the same confident smirk at first, but unlike Bor, Odin did not grow weaker, for the once called Borforce, now without a host, burned brighter and brighter in the chest of Odin alongside his power. The Apokaliptian's usual demeanor changed, to Odin's glee, fear had crept into his expression.
But it was not enough for the fledgling Allfather.
The Borforce reached its zenith and coursed through the youthful body of an Asgardian only entering his prime, Odin channeled it through the Oversword and with an overhead swing, shattered both of their weapons.
For a moment, a lull had entered the battle where Steppenwolf gawked at the stump of his once-weapon and Odin wolfishly grinned. Then, like his father before him thrust Gugngir forward and as a serpent would to its prey, allowed it's energies to devour Steppenwolf in the scorching light.
It was not until his armor was burned away and his already grey flesh was turned almost black did Odin give him respite.
Within the following hour, Steppenwolf was the sole survivor of his entire invasion force. From turned men to slaves to Parademons,... all were put to the sword on Odin's unquestioned orders. Their engines of war and enslavement erased from existence itself, all but one.
The strange device responsible for many of the invader's abilities, the Mother Box, was delivered to Odin as he stood above the near corpse of Steppenwolf.
With a simple press of a button, one of the booming portals delivering the invaders opened, this one leading back to their home, to help Steppenwolf return there where his misery was only just about to begin.
The most comforting words he would hear for the next millennia were Odin's words of warning for his master, Darkseid. That he and all like him would suffer a fate more terrible than ten thousand deaths if they should cross his paths again, that as long as he and his people lived, their designs upon the universe would never beat fruit.
Words he would find quite prophetic many millennia afterward when the forces of Apokalips and a madman would converge on Midgard and a new league, so similar yet so different from the first, would assemble to meet them.