Essential Thor

Essential Thor: Asgard

Beef up on your Asgardian history in this week's Essential Thor!

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With the release of "Thor" on May 6, 2011 and "Captain America: The First Avenger" on July 22, 2011, Marvel.com presents the Essentials, a series of articles showcasing each character's expansive history and mythology  in the Marvel comics.

From character retrospectives to a look at memorable storylines and interviews with key creators, the Essentials will act as the perfect guide for fans both old and new! Look for new Cap Essentials every Monday and Thor Essentials every Thursday as we head toward the release of each film!

 

By Jim Beard


Asgard from above

Above and apart from our waking world, the fabled realm of Asgard exists not only as the home of the Norse gods but also as the birthplace of the mighty Thor. An often-turbulent kingdom, beset by creatures and conquerors alike, it nevertheless stands in glory and grandeur in the corner of the eye of mortal man.

Come with us now on a brief yet illuminating tour of this mythological land and learn of its history, its people and its falls from grace. Look upon Asgard, and ye shall see why Thor, beloved son of Odin, doth cherish it above all else...

Ancient History

The Aesir vs. the Frost Giants
Legend tells of the beautiful Aesir, the first gods, who slew the frost giant Ymir and from his bones crafted Midgard, that which we call the Earth. Looking upon their work, the Aesir, led by Odin, then created Asgard as their home and stretched a rainbow bridge between it and Midgard so that they might always be in contact with those there who worshipped them as gods. In time, nine worlds came into existence yet Asgard towered above them all as the most fantastic and grandiose among them.

Asgard became the seat of power for the Norse gods, wherein Odin sat upon his throne as the King of the Gods.

A map of the Nine Worlds
The Asgardians eventually fell out of favor on Midgard but their realm continued its existence as the center of the Nine Worlds. Asgard's legend grew though the threat of its eventual destruction by one of its own hung over its lordly people.

It came to pass the Thor, son of Odin, met banishment from Asgard and went to live on Midgard; stripped of his memory as the Thunder God, Odin decreed that he would tarry there in the guise of a mortal doctor and learn humility away from glorious Asgard.

The history of Asgard first unfolded in the "Tales of Asgard" series beginning in JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #97, reprinted in THOR: TALES OF ASGARD as well as ESSENTIAL THOR VOL. 1-3.

Silver Age

A map of Asgard
After a time on Earth, Thor regained his memories and powers and returned to his home in Asgard. Reunited with not only his father Odin but his evil trickster half-brother Loki, Thor reveled once again in the stunning beauty of his home and vowed to protect it, as well as Earth, for the rest of his days.

The following years rolled out as exciting yet challenging ones, as Thor struggled to balance his duties to Asgard with those of his life as a super hero on Midgard. Time and again, the fabled realm demanded his attentions as it weathered innumerable invasions and dangerous debacles - from within and without.

Alas, all good things must come to an end and despite the protection and championing of the mighty Thunder God and the rest of the warrior Asgardians, the mythological home of the gods did fall.

Asgard first appeared in modern times in JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #85, which may be found collected in MIGHTY THOR MASTERWORKS VOL. 1 as well as ESSENTIAL THOR VOL. 1. Another exciting tale of Thor's early days can be found in THOR: BLOOD OATH #1-6, collected in the graphic novel of the same name.

Ragnarok

Asgard in ruins during Ragnarok
The prophecy of the doom of the gods, the final conflict that would bring down Asgard and its inhabitants, became known as Ragnarok. Loki, malicious and mischievous son of Odin, would lead the charge against his adopted home, so said the prophecy, and fabled Asgard would fall.

Having gained the secret of the mystical properties of Uru, the metal of Thor's mighty hammer, Loki spread his evil across his armies and brought about Ragnarok, the final battle. The Asgardians, mightily though they fought, could not withstand the blunt of destiny and once the signs came the home of the gods knew its doom stood waiting.

Asgard fell and seemingly all the Nine Worlds with it save Midgard. Thor and his brethren vanished from existence along with the seat of Odin's power, perhaps gone forever.

The brutal battle of Ragnarok played out in the legendary THOR Vol. 2 #80-85, and collected in AVENGERS DISASSEMBLED: THOR.

Vicious Circle

Thor rebuilds Asgard on Earth
The hammer of Thor fell to Earth after the events of Ragnarok and a man named Donald Blake found it and within it the seed of Thor's return. Once again established on Midgard, Thor turned to the task of seeking out the souls of his fellow Asgardians and rebuilding his legendary home.

The Thunder God placed the new Asgard over a piece of land in Oklahoma and went about restoring his people. Unfortunately, this period of time also saw the rise of Norman Osborn, the former Green Goblin, to power in the United States and eventually the duplicitous man set his sights on Asgard as a means to further cement his authority over the land.

Asgard's outpost atop Avengers Tower
Declaring Asgard as a foreign body on US soil, he ordered its invasion and once again the home of the gods crumbled beneath a cataclysmic assault from the outside.

Currently, the Asgardians wish to once again rebuild their kingdom and have established closer ties with the people of Earth through Thor's connection with the Avengers. A kind of Asgardian outpost now rests atop Stark Tower as a sign of Asgard's renewed faith in mankind and a sign of its eventual return to glory.

THOR Vol. 3 #1-6, collected in THOR BY J. MICHAEL STRACZYNSKI VOL. 1, saw the reconstruction of Asgard. The invasion of Asgard, its second destruction and the first glimmers of its hope for the future may be seen in SIEGE #1-4, collected in the hardcover of the same name. Further reconstruction continues in the ongoing THOR series, issue #616 on sale October 13.

 

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