In Five Favorite, we ask Marvel creators to nominate their top picks from a chosen theme. This time around, we spoke with LOKI: AGENT OF ASGARD writer Al Ewing about Marvel gods and deities.
First Appearance: AVENGERS ACADEMY #35 (2012)
Created by Christos Gage and Andrea Di Vito
The Tiger God exists as a primal and fearsome god whose power fuels the hero White Tiger, a member of the Mighty Avengers. White Tiger’s power comes from the Jade Tiger amulet inherited from her late brother Hector Ayala, the first White Tiger.
Al Ewing: “No, he doesn’t have a ‘name.’ ‘Names’ are for prey.
“I’m enjoying writing the Tiger God [in MIGHTY AVENGERS] as some kind of primeval representation of ‘The Beast outside the Cave.’ If you wanted to fit it into Marvel cosmology, it’s some kind of antisocial relative of the Panther God. The Chosen One of the Panther God leads the world’s undisputed technological elites in a hyper-advanced civilization that’s the envy of the entire planet; meanwhile, the Chosen One of the Tiger God has no followers and mostly kicks people in the face in the dead of night. They want different things, is what I’m saying.
“They were probably more closely allied at one point in history, which is why traditionally the Black Panther’s feared enforcers are ‘White Tigers’. It all works out! I should do something with that...”
First Appearance: ETERNALS #2 (1976)
Created by Jack Kirby
Towering space gods, each Celestial possesses formidable power, each able to shape or end entire civilizations. Perhaps the greatest of them: Arishem the Judge. He leads the Celestial Host, and by his judgment worlds stand or fall. Arishem serves a vigil over Earth; the planet has 50 years to prove itself worthy of continued existence.
Al Ewing: “Engraved on his thumb is the formula for world destruction! If Earth fails – Earth dies!
“Probably the easiest on the list to boil down to a single panel. He works on a number of metaphorical levels: as a stand-in for the atomic bomb, environmental catastrophe, or a more religious version of ‘The Potential End.’ And there’s something deliciously audacious about introducing a threat that won’t be resolved for 50 years.”
First Appearance: JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #102 (1962)
Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, based on the Norse goddess Hel
The daughter of a Jotun giantess and an incarnation of the wicked god Loki, Hela rules as the Norse goddess of death. One of several dark underworld gods in the Marvel Universe, she takes her job very seriously; her role as mistress over death often places her in conflict with Earth’s champions, most notably the thunder god Thor.
Al Ewing: “Is it the headgear? It might be the headgear...
“Anyway, she’s great at straddling the line between villain and force of nature, unlike, say, Pluto or Mephisto, who fulfil similar roles in the great cosmic scheme of things; she’s never to my knowledge been portrayed as evil or cowardly, even when she’s actively allying with the villains.—or at least, I don’t remember instances where she has been, which probably says a lot. Neither does she ever ask the reader to pity her; even Galactus moans about his terrible hunger occasionally, but I honestly have no memory of Hela ever complaining about being the Asgardian concept of death. She just is what she is, and does what she does.
“In a cool hat.”
First Appearance: JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY ANNUAL #1 (1965)
Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, based on the Greek demi-god Heracles
The fun-loving, fight-loving, beer-loving divine champion of the Greek gods, Hercules has been both a friend and a rival to the Norse god Thor. He followed in Thor’s footsteps as a super hero on Earth and a sometime Avenger, and most recently enjoyed the spotlight in Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente’s INCREDIBLE HERCULES.
Al Ewing: “Everyone loves Hercules! He beat Volstagg in the ‘loveable hedonist’ category. Sorry, Volstagg fans.
“But is it any wonder? Herc is truly the choice of a new generation, thanks mainly to the work of Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente, who gave us the modern-era version that launched a thousand memes. HERC was pure fun comics, with some fascinating mythological—and occasionally mathematic—tidbits thrown in. Not to mention that in a world where heroes are often tiresomely infallible, the big beery bear had some refreshing feet of clay, which only made his rise to glory all the sweeter. Herc was the ‘God Who Could Be You.’”
First Appearance: JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #85 (1962)
Created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby, based on the Norse god Loki
Half-brother and nemesis of Thor, the Norse God of Mischief inadvertently helped to form the Avengers. For years he sought power and control, but in recent times he may have changed. Reborn as a boy, and now a young man, he hopes to reinvent himself in service to the All-Mother in LOKI: AGENT OF ASGARD. But appearances can be deceiving.
Al Ewing: “Well, of course number one was going to be Loki. Come on, I put the Tiger God on there; I’m clearly being a massive nepotist today.
“I like him best ‘cos I like writing him best, and I like writing him best ‘cos he’s such a multi-faceted character at the moment. I’m a big fan of organic growth and forward movement in super hero comics; I think the biggest weakness of the super hero is the ‘status quo’ mentality, the idea that there’s an optimum state that must always eventually be returned to. So the recent transformation of Loki into a fuller, more rounded character is something I’m very much behind, and I’m really looking forward to moving the character forward in turn.
“Or maybe I’m lying and we’re going back to the old status quo after all! Ha ha! No, I wouldn’t do that – would I?”
Pick up LOKI: AGENT OF ASGARD #1, available now!