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Who Is Lorelei? A Brief History of (Marvel's) Asgard

Ross Lincoln | 11 Mar 2014 12:00
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Loki Avengers

In Which Loki Really Screws Up For The Last Time

Loki won't be appearing on tonight's episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but his story is too weird and awesome to pass up the opportunity to talk about it now. On the pages of Marvel comics, Loki is the god of evil and a constant thorn in the side of the Asgardians. He's the reason The Avengers originally assemble, and on film he not only invited an alien invasion, he also helped make the great Tom Hiddleston a star. But good lord, Marvel's version is positively ordinary compared to the Norse myth.

Like his comic book equivalent, Loki is the son of Frost Giants. But in the original myths he was actually Odin's blood brother. A trickster archetype, he was as likely to help the Norse gods as cause them problems and he tended to love nothing more than sowing discord, particularly while the gods were drinking. Ho-hum, pretty standard so far. Fine, haters, try this: he fathered the wolf Narfi, took the form of everything from salmon to a mare in heat, and at one point convinced Thor to cross-dress with him (no, seriously). Oh, and remember how he turned into a mare? Yeah, so that resulted in him becoming the mother of Sleipnir, Odin's eight-legged horse. Yes, you read that right, he was the mother. You may now squick out.

Eventually, Loki went too far and engineered the death of Baldur. For this he was subjected to one of the most gruesome punishments ever devised: The Aesir killed his son Nari and bound Loki to an underground rock using said son's entrails. A venomous snake was then positioned above Loki so that its venom dripped onto Loki's face. Loki's wife, Sigyn, would collect the poison in a bowl, but whenever the bowl would fill up she would have to dump it out, at which point the poison would get into his eyes, causing him to writhe in pain, thus giving us the Norse mythology explanation for earthquakes.

Obviously, this fate probably isn't looming for Tom Hiddleston. But I can't help but hope we get a joke about a horse with eight legs, someday.

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