The Midgard Serpent
WorldSerpent.jpg
Thor and the Midgard Serpent battle on the cover of Thor #380 (June 1987).
Art by Walt Simonson.
Publication information
PublisherMarvel Comics
First appearanceMarvel Tales #105 (Feb. 1952)
In-story information
Full nameJormungand
Place of originEarth
Notable aliasesThe World Serpent, Fin Fang Foom
AbilitiesExtreme strength and stamina
Fire and venom generation
Illusion projection

Jormungand, also known as the Midgard Serpent and the World Serpent, is a fictional character that appears in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character, based on the serpent Jörmungandr from Norse mythology, first appears in Marvel Tales #105 (Feb. 1952), in the period between the Golden Age of Comic Books and the Silver Age of Comic Books.

Publication history

The Midgard Serpent debuted in Marvel Tales #105 (Feb. 1952) and was later tied firmly to Marvel continuity in the Silver Age of Comic Books in Thor #127 (April 1966). As in Norse mythology, the Marvel version of the Midgard Serpent is the nemesis of the Thunder God, who has two encounters with the creature – the events based directly on mythology – in Thor #272-273 (June-July 1978).

An attempt to cheat the fatal prophecy made regarding a final battle between Thor and the Serpent occurred in Thor #274-278 (July-Dec. 1978), although the creature returned in Thor #325 (Nov. 1982-Jan. 1983). A "larger than life" battle between Thor and the Serpent was depicted in Thor #379-380 (May-June 1987), with writer-artist Walter Simonson using a splash page to depict the creature's size, and then full pages to demonstrate the battle between the pair.

Although killed, the Serpent was resurrected in Thor #486-488 (May-July 1995), and featured in The Avengers vol. 3 #1 (Feb. 1998) before reappearing in Thor vol. 2 #80 (Aug. 2004).

Fictional character biography

The Midgard Serpent first appears when a scientist draws what he believes to be venom from a statue of the creature, the liquid becoming a deadly solvent.[1]

In the realm of Asgard, the seer Volla makes a prophecy that the Thunder God Thor will battle the Midgard Serpent during Ragnarök after it surfaces from the ocean and does terrible damage. Although the god will successfully kill the creature, he will only walk nine steps before dying from wounds carrying its deadly venom.[2]

Thor has two encounters with the creature that reflect the Norse myths. The first is a visit to the castle of the Storm Giant Utgard-Loki, who excels in the use of illusions. Challenging Thor to lift his pet "cat", who in reality is the Midgard Serpent, the Storm Giant is terrified when the Thunder God lifts all but one of the cat's feet off the ground.[3] The second encounter occurs when Thor decides to cheat fate and kill the creature. Taking a fishing boat with the Giant Hymir, Thor uses the head of an ox on a chain to draw the Midgard Serpent to the surface of the ocean. Although the creature takes the bait, Thor is unable to deliver the killing blow as Hymir, fearing for his life, cuts the chain.[4]

Being aware of the prophecy regarding his son's death, Odin (the king of the Norse gods) cheats fate during a false Ragnarok by replacing Thor with a surrogate known as Red Norvell, who, after gaining the power of Thor and his hammer, dies battling the Midgard Serpent after it dives into the ocean. The prophecy fulfilled, Thor drives off the creature.[5] The Midgard Serpent reappears briefly when a group of Odin's enemies feed the Golden Apples of Idunn, intended for the Norse Gods, to the creature, intending to weaken the gods before an attack. It is used as a bridge by Tyr and Loki's army. Thor imprisons the creature and forces it to return the apples.[6]

The character appears on Earth disguised as the monster Fin Fang Foom after some Giants summon him using one of them as bait on a giant fishing rod, and after the deception is revealed battles Thor to the death. He attacks Thor in a park still disguised as Fin Fang Foom, but does not recognize Thor who is wearing his Asgardian armor. After apologizing and talking to Thor, Fin Fang Foom says if Thor can lift his big toe, he will battle the "super hero" (Thor) away from the city. Thor is able to lift his big toe and rides him away from the city. When he realizes he does not know his foe's name, Thor tells him. The presence of the Midgard Serpent on Earth causes time to stop for everything except the two opponents and other mythic creatures. Although Thor finally kills the creature, his body is pulped, suffering from the Curse of Hela: his bones become as brittle as glass, but he is unable to heal or die[7](Thor "resurrects" himself by taking mental control of the Destroyer and forcing Hela to recreate his body and free him from her curse).[8]

The Midgard Serpent is released from Hel (the Norse land of the dead) by the Asgardian warrior Kurse to use against Thor, who is swallowed by the creature. Together with ally Beta Ray Bill, Thor blasts free of the creature's stomach and kills it a second time.[9]

The Midgard Serpent is apparently resurrected by sorceress Morgan le Fay, who summons the creature to Earth to distract the superhero team the Avengers while she abducts the Scarlet Witch.[10] The Midgard Serpent briefly reappears when the true Ragnarok occurs.[11]

During the "Last Days" part of the Secret Wars storyline, King Loki (a more evil version of Loki from an alternate future) frees the Midgard Serpent from Hel and rides on its back as part of a plot to attack Asgard.[12]

Powers and abilities

The Midgard Serpent normally exists in ethereal form around Earth. A huge serpent, the character has immense strength and stamina, can generate both lethal fire and venom, and project powerful illusions. He can cause earthquakes by flexing his coils around Earth.

In other media

Television

Film

Video games

Footnotes

  1. ^ Marvel Tales #105 (Feb. 1952)
  2. ^ Thor #127 (April 1955), 200 (June 1972) and 294 (April 1980)
  3. ^ Thor #272 (June 1978)
  4. ^ Thor #273 (July 1978)
  5. ^ Thor #274-278 (July-Dec. 1978)
  6. ^ Thor #325 (Nov. 1982-Jan. 1983)
  7. ^ Thor #379-380 (May-June 1987)
  8. ^ Thor #381 (Jul. 1987)
  9. ^ Thor #486-488 (May-July 1995)
  10. ^ The Avengers vol. 3 #1 (Feb. 1998)
  11. ^ Thor vol. 2 #80 (Aug. 2004)
  12. ^ Loki: Agent of Asgard #14
  13. ^ "Marvel Pinball: Vengeance and Virtue pack gets Thor". www.destructoid.com. Retrieved 2014-02-15.