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Marvel Universe 

Giants of Jotunheim


Marvel Universe

First Appearance
(Storm Giants) Journey Into Mystery #100, (Ice Giants, Rime Giants) Journey Into Mystery #101, (Frost Giants) Balder the Brave #1, (Mountain Giants) Thor #175

Home World
Jotunheim, one of the Nine Worlds of Asgardian cosmology.


Physical Description
The Giants are basically humanoid in appearance and color, although they tend toward the neanderthalic in body an bone structure.

The Giants of Jotunheim, also known as the Etins, are enormous superhuman beings, most of whom dwell in the other dimensional realm of Jotunheim, one of the Nine Worlds of Asgardian cosmology. They are the traditional enemies of the gods of Asgard, with whom they have gone to war numerous times over the millennia. Jotunheim is a flat ring-shaped realm with high mountains along its inner edge. It is apparently on its own separate dimensional plane, distinct from Asgard's or Earth's. However, there are interdimensional portals between the mountains of Jotunheim and those of Asgard, permitting easy passage from one realm to the other.

The Giants are basically humanoid in appearance and color, although they tend toward the Neanderthalic in body and bone structure. Their most distinguishing feature is their height. The average Giant is twenty feet tall, although some reach up to thirty feet. On occasion, Giants will produce offspring who resemble the Asgardians in height. for example, Skurge, the original Executioner, was the son of a Giant. Giants can even interbreed with Asgardians. Odin himself, the monarch of Asgard, is the son of an Asgardian father, Borr, and a Giantess. Loki, the Asgardian god of mischief and evil, is the son of the deceased Giant king Laufey; since Loki shows none of the physical attributes of Giants, it may be assumed that his mother was a goddess, not a giantess.

Giants tend to lead a simple existence as hunters and gatherers. However, they have a warlike culture, and their envy of the Asgardians has caused them to go to war with Asgard repeatedly over the millennia. With some exceptions, like the swordsman Hagen, Giants are not highly skilled in the arts of combat, but their sheer size and strength make them formidable opponents even for the Asgardian gods. Giants possess superhuman strength and resistance to physical injury. (The flesh and bone of the Giants of Jotunheim are about three times denser than similar human tissue, contributing to their superhuman strength and weight.) They are extremely long-lived, but their life spans are not as long as those of the Asgardian gods, who have been able to extend their lives through consumption of the enchanted apples of Idunn.

The first of the Giants was the Ice Giant Ymir, one of the oldest living beings in the Nine Worlds. Many different races of Giants arose in Jotunheim, including the Ice Giants, Mountain Giants, and Rime Giants. The Storm Giants, who dwell in the more temperate mountain regions of Jotunheim have frequently battled the Asgardians through their history. However, of all the races of Giants, the foremost enemies of the Asgardian gods are the Frost Giants, whose monarch is Utgard-Loki. The direct descendants of the first Giant, Ymir, the Frost Giants live in the area of Jotunheim whose climate resembles that of Earth's polar regions. Temperatures in this area never rise above the freezing point of water. The Frost Giants can exist comfortably at frigid temperatures but are highly vulnerable to heat. Although they can withstand the normal temperatures to be found in Asgard and in the temperate regions of Earth, intense heat causes them to shrink in size rapidly, as if melting. Long exposure to cold will eventually cause them to grow back to their previous size. The Frost Giants' powers are strongest in their own realm of Jotunheim, presumably due at least in part to the frigid climate of much of the realm.

At least some Frost Giants have the power to create magical illusions. Utgard-Loki is a master of the sorcery of the Frost Giants. His powers to create illusions are greater than those of other know Frost Giants. He can cause the weather of Jotunheim to grow even more frigid. He once transformed Karnilla the Norn Queen into a bird. Utgard-Loki first encountered the Asgardian gods Thor and Loki many centuries ago when the two gods came to his castle. Utgard-Loki demanded that they perform a series of what appeared to be simple feats, which in actuality proved immensely difficult. Using his magical powers of illusion, Utgard-Loki had disguised the objects of the feats that he had Thor and Loki to perform. Hence, in lifting appeared to be a cat's paw, Thor actually was lifting the immense bulk of Jormungand, the Midgard Serpent. Thor and Loki fared impressively in coping with these challenges, despite Utgard-Loki's deceptions.

In recent times, Odin disappeared from Asgard while battling the demonic Surtur. Learning of Odin's absence, Utgard-Loki decided the time had come to destroy Asgard. Planning first to eliminate potential opposition from the allies of Asgard, Utgard-Loki and his forces invaded Nornheim, the realm of the Norn Queen Karnilla. Utgard-Loki took Karnilla prisoner and used his enchanted dust to turn the inhabitants of Nornheim to stone. He and his Frost Giants then returned to his palace of ice in the frigid tundra of Jotunheim, where they force Karnilla to toil as their slave. Karnilla's lover, the Asgardian god Balder, followed her to the palace, where he was forced to do combat with Hagen of Trondgarrd, a highly accomplished Giant swordsman. Balder defeated Hagen, and later confronted Utgard-Loki, who hurled his enchanted dust at the god. Using his newly emerged power to generate heat and light, Balder created enough heat to ignite every particle of the dust before it could reach him. The tremendous heat destroyed the palace, which was made of ice, and reduced Utgard-Loki and the other Frost Giants within it to heights of less than one foot. Balder could have destroyed them entirely through continuing to generate heat, but chose not to do so. Having rendered the Frost Giants helpless, he and the rescued Karnilla returned to Nornheim.

Drawing on the power of the human mutant Iceman, Loki restored the size and power of a group of Frost Giants. These Giants, led by Grundroth, attempted to kill Loki, who was saved through the intervention of the thunder god Thor. In retaliation, Grundroth led the others to Earth where they contacted Jormungand, the Midgard Serpent and induce him to battle their enemy Thor for them. Thor slew the Serpent in a tremendous battle in which the Asgardian himself was reduced to a mass of pulped flesh, which was still alive due to a curse put on Thor by the goddess Hela that made him incapable of dying. Grundroth planned to take Thor's body back to Jotunheim and claim ruler-ship of the Frost Giants as his reward for besting the thunder god. Loki then tricked one of Grundroth's Giants, Siggorth, into infusing his life force into the virtually invincible Destroyer, which then slew Grundroth and the rest of the Giant band. Meanwhile, In Jotunheim, Utgard-Loki and the other Frost Giants had regained most of their former size and power. Learning that the Asgardians had fallen victim to a strange plague that paralyzed them, Utgard-Loki led an army of Frost Giants loyal to him in an invasion of Asgard. Balder, Volstagg, and Kurse, and a number of Asgardian children who had not fallen victim to the plague fought the Giants until Thor, who had been freed from the curse and restored to full health by Hela, arrived and overpowered Utgard-Loki. Thor and Balder allowed the defeated Utgard-Loki and his forces to leave Asgard in return for his pledge to try to find a cure for the magic that had paralyzed the Asgardians. Utgard-Loki did indeed find a cure for the Asgardian's plague and by some undisclosed means; the inhabitants of Nornheim were freed from the spell of Utgard-Lokis enchanted dust.

Since then, the Frost Giants have refrained from attacking Asgard. In fact, the Giants of Jotunheim allied themselves with the Asgardians recently in battling the forces of the death god Seth. However, the enmity of the Giants of Jotunheim toward the Asgardians remains undiminished, and it is virtually inevitable that the Giants will menace Asgard again.

Besides Utgard-Loki, other Giants of importance in the history of Asgard include Laufey, a monarch of the Giants who died in battle against the Asgardians. In tribute to the courage of his fallen foe, Odin adopted Laufey's infant son Loki. Two other Giants of note are Fafnir and Fasolt, who built Odin's palace in Valhalla in exchange for his pledge to give them the goddess Freia in payment. Odin only made such an agreement on the advice of Loki, who contended he would find a way to satisfy the two Giants without turning Freia over to them. Following Loki's plan, Odin, Thor, and Loki captured the dwarf Alberich and compelled him to turn over to them his large quantities o gold, the mystical Tarnhelm which was a helmet enabling its wearer to change his shape, and the immensely powerful Ring of the Nibelung, created from the enchanted Rhinegold, all of which they then gave to the two Giants. Seized with greed, Fafnir murdered Fasolt and took all the treasures for himself, Fafnir used the Tarnhelm to turn himself into a dragon, in which form he was finally slain by Thor in his human guise of Siegfried. (Note: This Fafnir is not to be confused with the monarch Fafnir of Nastrond, whom Odin transformed into a dragon.)

Contributors: Ohitsme