THORSDAY: Norse Myths You Won't See in Marvel Comics

Know ye that on Frigga’s Day May the Sixth, the God of Thunder, Thor shall bring the might of his hammer Mjolnir to yon multiplexes, where he shall woo the Maiden Portman of the Black Swan and match wits with the great Hopkins, Lover of Fava Beans and a Nice Chianti! But the forces of “Real-D” and CGI realize for us mortals the halls of Asgard, we found ourselves questioning — what stories of the classic myths were likely to not find their way into yon comics and films?

To find out more, we did depart to ye local library, where we carefully read through the volumes we found in the children’s section in the ancient tomes of poetry transcribed by the hallowed Vikings themselves! And from them did we discover the true and bloody tales of Asgard that yon Comics Code Authority did keep from the pages of the tomes of True Believers of the House of Ideas! Thus was born:


, by Mårten Eskil Winge (1872). Thor's Battle Against

the Ettins, by Mårten

Eskil Winge (1872).

Dare venture into these strange and brazen myths to discover that which Marvel Comics once shunned, perhaps with good reason! To aid us in our quest, we did recruit the strongest of warriors, yon Kieron Gillen, scribe of many of Marvel’s recent tales of the Aesir, including Thor, Siege: Loki, Beta Ray Bill: Godhunter and yon forthcoming Journey Into Mystery, along with his work on the mutate’d heroes of Uncanny X-Men and S.W.O.R.D.

We warn ye: What thou learnest in these tales thou cannot unlearn. Onward!

Yon Noteth: Do not lookest for yon tale of Loki tricking Thor into thinking he was pregnant, as recounted in The Sandman. T’was merely an invention of yon Neil Gaiman, as many perusals of the skalds did reveal. Greatly did this disappoint the warriors of Newsarama, who had a lovely line about wishing to see this drawn by Jack Kirby or Walt Simonson.

Ymir's Progeny: The creation of Asgard was told in the old Marvel comics, but they never quite got around to how Ymir gave birth to the race of Frost Giants and trolls while he slept… when a male and female Frost Giant came>to life from his armpit, and a six-headed troll grew out of his feet.

The incestuous pairings of these creatures created the monsters who menaced Asgard over the years. In fairness, they did include the bit about how Odin's dad, the first of the Aesir, was created by a giant cow licking the ice of Ginungagap.

Kieron Gillen: This proves a crucial lesson about the importance of proper deodorant use. I hope everyone will bear this in mind for the coming convention season. Remember: improper personal hygiene can lead to Frost Giant invasion on the third day of San Diego.

We Live on a Corpse: According to early myths, Midgard (Earth) was created by the Aesir out of Ymir's body, with his flesh becoming the soil, his bones the mountains, and the stones from his teeth. The sky was capped off by his skull. Does this explain humanity's fascination with zombie movies?

Gillen: Honestly, the idea of this article is 'myths we never use in Marvel Comics,' but I'd be all over this given half a chance. Like, totes.


Odin's Nine Nights of Hanging: How did Odin become the All-Father? Well, according to the Rúnatal section of the Norse poem Hávamál, he hung himself from the world tree Yggdrasil for nine days and nights while pierced with his own spear. In the process, he gained wisdom that granted him power over the Nine Worlds. Note: Do not try this in real life. That's how that guy from Kung-Fu died.

Gillen: The guy from Kung-Fu should have known better than to pierce himself with Odin's spear.

Brother's Keeper: Why do Thor and Loki have such issues? Well, Odin wasn't the best example. After his brother Mimir was decapitated, Odin kept his head alive and used him as a sounding board. Yep, not a great track record for handling siblings.

Gillen: Odin was always looking to get ahead.

I'm sorry.

Seriously, Odin's Just a Dick: After the death of the god of poetry Kvasir, his blood was mixed into a heady mead that granted its drinker the gifts of poetry and wisdom. When it was discovered to be in the hands of a dwarf named Baugi, Odin employed some subterfuge.

Taking the form of a snake, he snuck into Baugi's cave and made love to his daughter Gunnold (described as a nice and innocent dwarf), receiving the offer of three drops of mead as payment. Odin instead drank all the mead and turned into an eagle, spitting the mead back into jars in Asgard. The Aesir were happy to have what was now probably a very funky blood-mead back, and Gunnold hasn't been mentioned again. Still, this explains where Loki gets his trickery.

Gillen: I think we're being overharsh on Odin here. Who among us can say we've never transformed into a snake in order to sleep with a dwarf and then morphed into an eagle to vomit drinks for all our friends? I know I can't.

Thor in Drag: Let never it be said that Loki never helped Thor out. In the Norse poem Þrymskviða, Thor finds his hammer's been stolen by the Jotun (Frost Giant) Þrymr. Loki helps find out what happened, and discovers that Þrymr wants to use the hammer to woo the lovely goddess Freya. Freya's not down with that, so Loki helps Thor infiltrate Þrymr's fortress by… disguising him as a maiden.

The wedding nearly goes through, but Thor manages to get his hammer back and lay some serious smackdown. On a personal note, I parodied this for another comics site a decade back with a guest illustration by Walt Simonson. He was surprisingly willing to draw Thor in feminine attire. That's a professional right there.

Gillen: To state the obvious: Thor does have lovely hair.

And Doctor Doom's managed to square being one of the most feared men in the Marvel Universe while wearing a green mini-dress for years now.

I see no problem with more heroes cross-dressing.


Loki's Eight-Legged Horse Baby
: Well, Loki got his own drag race that also involved transgender transmogrification. The Aesir wanted a wall built, but the Jotun who volunteered wanted Freya's hand in marriage (Freya was popular), along with the sun and moon. Loki suggested giving him a ridiculously short deadline to prevent this, but unfortunately the Jotun met his deadline.

In danger of being lynched, Loki tried delaying the Jotun by… turning into a mare and seducing away the Jotun's horse Svaðilfari. The Jotun missed his deadline and tried to destroy Asgard, but Thor gave him a whuppin'. Loki, meanwhile, gave birth to an eight-legged horse that Odin rode named Sleipnir, the Glider. Jeez, he didn't even get to keep his own horse-spider-baby? Loki can't get a break.

Gillen: I think we're being overharsh on Loki here. Who among us can say we've never, etc, etc.

In other notes, I now want to have a horse-spider-baby. Life is cruel.

Loki's Gender Confusion: In the classic Norse poem Lokasenna, Odin accuses Loki of spending eight winters beneath the earth as a woman and bearing children. Dude, you took his horse-spider-baby! Lay off the judgments! Loki is a very confused god, and not just because of the Frost Giant background.

Gillen: The idea of Loki being a woman is ludicrous. It would never work.

Loki in Intestines: Lokasenna concludes with Loki, having been a smartass to all the gods and referencing their failures, being bound with the intestines of his own son Nari. He is then imprisoned beneath the earth with a snake dripping venom into his eyes. His strains to break free are what cause earthquakes… though eventually he'll cause far worse by bringing about Ragnarok.

Gillen: Equally, I can't imagine any comic using this myth and being taken seriously. Quite simply impossible.

It's Nari I feel sorry for in this one, though: "You're punishing my dad? Oh — Well, he probably deserved it. And… you're going to do what to me to tie him up? Wait a minute."

And One More from Loki, Courtesy of Matt Fraction: Years ago on this site, I asked Matt Fraction, now writer of The Mighty Thor, what his favorite Norse myth was:

"The one where Loki makes the Frost Giant's daughter laugh by tying a donkey's leash to his nutsack and letting it drag him around is maybe my favorite myth, only because it's so bawdy and inappropriate and funny and we tend to think of these myths as these stodgy, airless fables about ideas and ideals and not, y'know, written by and for people that love a good scrotum joke.

"Rejoice! Apparently nut humor was as much a hoot back then as it is today."

Gillen: Asgardian Jackass strikes me as an easy pitch. Get me to an editor, quickly.

Read ye yon works by Kieron Gillen each month, and seeth yon Thor in theaters this Friday! There will likely be no horse-spider-babies. The All-Father doth weep.

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