The character of Thor has been around in the world of Marvel Comics in one form or another since late 1950, with the character then given a new boost of popularity upon his Silver Age debut in 1962. And it's with that Silver Age arrival of Thor, the Son of Odin, the God of Thunder, that comic book readers were also really given a glimpse of the mysterious world of Asgard.
Asgard itself was really brought to life within just a matter of weeks of Thor's Silver Age bow, and the realm soon became a vital part of its central hero's story. Much like Spider-Man has Queens, Daredevil has Hell's Kitchen, Batman has Gotham City, and Superman has Metropolis, Thor and Asgard so often went hand-in-hand when it came to the daily troubles faced by the Thunder God.
In amongst the magical and mysticism of Asgard and its Asgardian inhabitants have been so many shocking moments and stories over the time, and there's so much about the world and its people that many casual comic book readers may not yet be aware of.
So with that said, here's 15 things about Asgard and Asgardians that even the most fanatical of Thor fans may not even be aware of.
15 Based Deeply On Norse Mythology
Many may well be aware that Thor and some of his supporting characters are pulled directly from Norse mythology, but most will likely not know just how pulled from Norse mythology Asgard and its inhabitants are.
As well as Thor, characters such as Loki and Odin are known to those who maybe have only a slight understanding of Norse mythology, but there’s a whole host of other elements of Norse mythology that have been incorporated by Marvel Comics into their depiction of Thor and his world.
Things such as The Bifrost, Mjolnir, Midgard and the other Nine Realms, the Frost Giants, and the concept of higher-powered beings, i.e. Gods, all have their basis in the very real and existing Norse mythology that has been in place over the centuries.
Sure, Marvel have made slight tweaks and changes to that mythology in order to translate it to a comic book audience and to make Thor and his adventures not too much of a heavy read, but it’s pretty surprising to see just how much of Asgard and its inhabitants really does have its roots firmly planted in Norse mythology.
14 Part Of The Nine Realms
Asgard may well exist as its own entity, but that’s not to say that it’s not connected to other “realms”. In fact, Asgardians believe that Asgard is part of the Nine Worlds or Nine Realms.
Connecting these worlds are portals that allow beings to travel from one realm to another. Like Asgard, the realms of Vanaheim, Alfheim, and Nidavellir all exist on a flat mass that is surrounded by a void. In fact, these three other realms all share the same actual mass as Asgard.
Elsewhere, the realm that we’re most familiar with, of course, is Midgard… or simply Earth as it’s known to me and you. The Earth actually exists in a different dimensional plane to Asgard, however. As such, Midgard is the one realm which Asgard doesn’t have a direct portal to. The rest of the realms are Jotunheim, Svartalfheim, Muspelheim, and the nefarious Hel.
What many don’t realise is that the Nine Realms is actually a concept lifted directly from Norse mythology, as is the rainbow bridge labelled The Bifrost.
13 The First Asgardian
How Asgard and Asgardians came into existence in the first place is all a little bit odd. And by odd, in typical comic book fare that obviously means convoluted, complicated, and not all that easy to follow. All that you need to know is that a magical cow had a big part to play in things.
To go right back to the beginning, in the world of Marvel at least, Niflheim and Muspelheim were at opposite ends of the void that would eventually surround Asgard. Eventually, Niflheim rivers of ice butted heads with the warm air from the rivers of fire in Muspelheim, in turn carving out the first ever Frost Giant. This fella, named Ymir, somehow ended up with a cow called Auombla. Said cow was no ordinary moo-moo cow, for this scamp would actually lick the very first Asgardian out of a block of ice.
That first Asgardian would be Buri, who fathered Bor, who in turn fathered three sons. One of these sons was a chap called Odin. Yes, as in that Odin.
Of course, things would go a little awry for the Frost Giants when Ymir was slaughtered by Odin and his two brothers.
12 It’s Flat!
When looking at Asgard, forget whatever you’ve heard about Christopher Columbus’ concepts of worlds being round. Where Asgard is concerned, the world is simply flat.
Not only does gravity itself work differently in Asgard to how it does on Earth, but there is bizarrely a top and a bottom to Asgard, plus the world has actual edges to its landmass. That means that things can actually fall off Asgard, dropping into a deep, soulless void of existence. These “edges” themselves also never suffer from any wear or tear over the centuries, instead magically being kept from eroding by some unknown force.
Sticking with the unknown magical elements, it’s similarly not particularly known or understood how the waters along Asgard’s boundaries don’t actually just spill into the ominous voids that surround it. Then there’s the actual atmosphere of Asgard, which again somehow remains stable and in place despite nobody really knowing how or why.
Yup, when it comes to Asgard, you basically need to forget any and everything you ever thought you knew about the laws of physics and science.
11 Has No Changing Seasons
Unlike most planets – well, Earth at least – Asgard doesn’t actually have any changing seasons.
What the realm does have, however, is certain locations with very different weather and seasons to the others. There are parts of Asgard that are constantly drenched in bright, vibrant sunshine, whilst there are other locales that are permanently snow-covered landscapes with freezing temperatures.
What is unique about Asgard is that the seasons are set, unchanging over time and being forever in the same state. That means that if you’re one of the pour souls who live in one of the darker, gloomier parts of Asgard, the only way you’re ever really going to see daylight and sunlight is by making a trek to brighter parts.
As for if you’re a fan of cool, crisp, snowy landscapes, there’s plenty of places on Asgard that you could visit or call home. The only problem there, of course, is that this new home will likely come complete with the ever-strong threat of the Frost Giants.
10 Has Three Stages Of The Afterlife
When the time comes for an Asgardian to finally bite the bullet, kick the bucket, and take their final breath, Asgard throws up three options for them: Hel, Niffleheim, and Valhalla.
As a comic book reader, Hel is clearly the coolest and most interesting of these options to explore. Ruled by Hela, who is the Goddess of Death and is actually Loki’s daughter, this is the place where regular Asgardians who had lived regular lives go to when they die. With its eerie edge and creepy ruler, Hel has been given the spotlight plenty of times during the history of Thor’s comic book adventures.
For those who have had far from a regular life, their place in death is either Niffleheim or Valhalla. Obviously many will be familiar with the concept of Valhalla, with this realm being where heroes and honoured souls go in death. As for Niffleheim, that’s a different matter, with that being the realm that houses the dishonoured and despicable dead.
9 The Ballad Of Beta Ray Bill
For so many superheroes, there’s certain writers and stories that are definitive in the character’s history. With Daredevil, there’s Frank Miller. With the X-Men, there’s Chris Claremont. With Iron Man, there’s David Michelinie. And with Thor, there’s the legendary Walt Simonson.
In Walt’s very first issue on Thor, the Simonson-written-and-drawn Thor #337, he began a story by the name of The Ballad of Beta Ray Bill. With that hugely popular tale, readers were introduced to one of the most unique (and frankly odd!) characters to have ever been associated with Asgard.
Who’s Beta Ray Bill, some of you may be asking? Well he’s an oddball, horse-faced hero who stands out as one of the more recognizable side characters in the Marvel world.
This long-faced newcomer was initially the target of an attack by Thor, although the Thunder God soon realised that Bill was actually a decent fella who was pretty handy when it came to fighting. As such, the pair would soon team up to battle demons and the like, with Odin going as far as actually giving Beta Ray Bill his own hammer named Stormbreaker after the newbie had proved himself by becoming one of the few who had successfully lifted Mjolnir.
Luckily for fans, Bill has returned to save the day at various times over the decades.
8 Thor Was Turned To A Frog
What do you get when the God of Mischief just so happens to stumble upon an ancient, magical sword? Here’s a clue: ribbit, ribbit.
After Loki found the discarded sword of the evil Surtur, he did what all no-good rascals would do; he turned his half-brother into a frog. Yes, in case you’re not aware of this, Thor was at one point in time turned into an actual frog. And not just any frog, for this frog would also be decked out in a little miniature Thor outfit and have his own miniature version of Mjolnir.
This change would initially only last for three issues before Loki ultimately returned the God of Thunder back to his regular self, but fans’ interest was piqued.
In later years, Throg (shown above), as he’d become to be known, would turn up as a separate character to Thor, and he’d even be a part of an all-animal version of The Avengers called The Pet Avengers.
7 Asgard Had To Deal With The Zombie Apocalypse
For a moment in time, Marvel’s penchant for putting a zombified spin on its world was hugely popular. Sure, as with most things, it soon became a case of overkill, but it was certainly a well-received experiment during its early days.
As part of the whole Marvel Zombies run of books – Marvel Zombies Destroy! Vol. 1 #4, if you want to be exact – readers were shown Asgard being overrun by the walking dead. And of course, Loki would just have to be there in the middle of things, having been revealed to have instigated the whole terrifying event.
With the zombie plague running wild on Earth, Odin had put strict rules in place that forbid any contact with Earth. Done as a way to get one up on his brother, it was explained how Loki had actually started the whole zombie outbreak purely to spite Thor and his affection for Midgard.
Odin himself would eventually travel to Earth to get a closer look at the situation, although this went all kinds of wrong when he was bitten by a zombified Namor. The knock-on effect of this was that the entire population of Asgardians were turned to zombies due to how all of Asgard and Asgardian power flows directly through Odin. Once he was infected, this was directly passed on to all Asgardians.
Luckily for Loki, his Frost Giant genetic make-up meant that Odin’s fate didn’t flow through to him.
6 Tony Stark Created A Thor Clone
Now whilst we’ve all been wowed by the ever-charismatic Robert Downey Jr. as the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Tony Stark, the comic book Tony Stark has been known to be a bit of a d*ck over the decades.
In one of Stark’s most heinous moves, the fan favourite Civil War comic book arc saw it revealed that the genius, billionaire, philanthropist playboy had actually created a clone of none other than the God of Thunder, the Son of Odin: Thor.
In a slightly creepy reveal, it was explained how Stark had kept a lock of Thor’s hair for years – from the first ever meeting of The Avengers, actually - and it was that, along with the help of Reed Richards and Hank Pym, that led to the creation of this clone. Deciding to unleash his new “toy” on his foes during one of Civil War’s many battles, the situation was massively shook up when the Thor clone actually killed fellow hero Goliath. Just to give some context, this occurred at a time when Thor had been long-absent and was believed dead, making his "return" a massive surprise.
This whole event was one of the most shocking parts of the ever-shocking Civil War, even going so far as to cause Sue Storm to walk out on her husband for his part in all of this. But of course, Tony Stark would soon be cleared of any wrongdoing when Marvel later revealed how it wasn’t the real Stark, that it was a Skrull impersonator who gave the orders to create this clone. Right, and that had absolutely nothing to do with Marvel desperately trying to save the Tony Stark character from the fan backlash he was receiving during and after Civil War…
As for the clone, he'd later be given the ominous name of Ragnarok and would actually do battle with the real Thor.
5 Thor Is A Religion
Not content with simply ruling Asgard, Thor actually became his own religion at one point in time.
Granted, that point in time may not be part of the standard 616 Marvel world, but it’s still an interesting concept regardless. Taking place on Earth-928, readers have actually been shown The Church of Thor. And even more surprising, one of the religion’s biggest supports is Punisher 2099.
Known as Thorites and led by Reverend Cecil McAdam, these true believers champion the day that Thor will return and save the world from going to the dogs, most notably quoting how the God of Thunder will make his triumphant comeback to “smite the frost giants of industry”.
Not content with idolizing the Son of Odin, this cult has also been known to sing the praises of Miguel O’Hara, aka Spider-Man 2099.
It might be a bit far-fetched and out there, but if you’ve ever read a story involving The Church of Thor, you’re highly unlikely to ever forget about it due to it being such a bonkers concept.
4 It Was Completely Destroyed
It certainly has to be said that Ragnarok lived up to its name…
Essentially the Norse version of Judgment Day, Ragnarok was a prospect that haunted Thor and his fellow Asgardians for decades in the comic book realm. And then it happened, and boy did it live up to the hype.
Following Ragnarok basically resetting the entire timeline, Loki ends up finding the actual magical forge that was used to create Mjolnir. Teaming up with the equally-evil Surtur, Loki puts together an army intent on decimating Asgard. Complete with a longboat made up of the dead’s toenails and fingernails, the nefarious plan of Loki actually played out as intended, meaning that Asgard was shockingly destroyed and most of its inhabitants were wiped out.
For so long, Loki had been seen as someone with evil intentions but who never really managed to carry out anything that heinous. In the aftermath of Ragnarok, that all changed and Loki finally lived up to the demented standards that he sets for himself.
3 Asgard, New York
Back in 2002, with Thor now in place as the leader and ruler of Asgard, the God of Thunder began making certain enemies within the US government, which in turn led to him butting heads with some of his fellow Avengers. Part of the issue that the Son of Odin had was that he actually wanted to bring Asgard to Earth.
Thor’s plan involved making Asgard a floating island above New York, and that’s exactly what he did. The logic behind the actual writing of this story arc was that it would be a unique spin to have actual Gods up in the skies, and there was interest in how these Gods would interact with the mere mortals below them.
Unfortunately, whilst storyline-wise it was explained how Thor wanted the Gods to mingle more with the average man, the creative teams at Marvel at that time basically missed a huge opportunity to do anything decent with this idea. In the main Thor title, readers were often given something interesting to read, but Marvel seemed a little half-assed in the whole Asgard-above-New-York issue.
Given how so many Marvel superheroes call New York home, it was massively disappointing to see the lack of recognition given to this whole situation in virtually every other Marvel comic at the time.
2 It Was Completely Destroyed… Again
Well if Ragnarok and the vengeance of Loki wasn’t bad enough for Asgard, it would actually be destroyed once more.
To give some background on this, Asgard was rebuilt on Earth following its previous destruction at the hands of Loki, Surtur, Hela and Co. Unfortunately, Earth also has its fair share of no-good, nefarious sorts, and that’s where Norman Osborn comes into play.
At this point in time, Osborn, following a faux hero act as the Iron Patriot, had somehow snuffled the leadership of S.H.I.E.L.D. As Norman started to drift back towards his evil ways, he decided to target the newly-built Asgard, citing it as a national security threat.
Despite President Obama shooting down Osborn’s request to attack Asgard, and despite butting heads with several superheroes over the matter, Norman decided to destroy Asgard anyway. Earth’s Mightiest Heroes would come together as The Avengers managed to seemingly stop Osborn and his Dark Avengers.
Unfortunately, The Sentry had managed to escape capture and thus destroyed Asgard as per Norman’s orders. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why you never trust a supposedly-reformed supervillain. For those poor remaining Asgardians, though, it was yet another rebuilding job on the horizon.
Following the (second) destruction of Asgard, a savior stepped forward to rebuild the legendary realm. That man was Tony Stark.
After the Siege storyline had come to an end with the Norman Osborn-ordered Sentry blowing up Asgard, Stark sought to help redesign and rebuild the fallen home of Thor and Co. Using state-of-the-art Stark repulsor technology, elements of ancient Asgardian magic, and a bunch of science minds, Asgardia was born.
This new city was put in the same place where Asgard had sat before it was blown up – floating above American soil. One way in which Asgardia did differ from Asgard, however, was that it housed people from the entire Nine Realms rather than just being home to Asgardians.
Shortly after floating in US skies, the All-Mother decided to relocate Asgardia a little further up into the skies. In fact, Asgardia was taken to space and placed near the Moon.
Sources: en.wikipedia.org; norse-mythology.org
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