Thunder... thunder... Thunder god, ho!Valhalla
is a Danish comic series by Henning Kure (script) and Peter Madsen (script and artwork) that chronicles the stories of the Norse gods
in a mostly lighthearted and humorous way. It started out as a newspaper comic
, the first story, Cry Wolf,
being printed as a serial strip in the Danish newspaper Politiken
in 1978 and then the following year being collected and reprinted in album format.
From 1979 to 2009, fifteen albums (and one animated feature
) were produced, during which all the major and most of the minor known myths are covered in one way or the other.
The albums are, as follow:1. Ulven er Løs
("Cry Wolf") 2. Thors Brudefærd
("Thor's Wedding") 3. Odins Væddemål
("Odin's Wager") 4. Historien om Quark
("The Story of Quark") 5. Rejsen Til Udgårdsloke
("The Journey to Utgards-Loki") 6. De Gyldne Æbler
("The Golden Apples") 7. Ormen i Dybet
("The Serpent in the Abyss") 8. Frejas Smykke
("Freya's Necklace") 9. Den Store Udfordring
("The Big Challenge") 10. Gudernes Gaver
("The Gifts for the Gods") 11. Mysteriet om Digtermjøden
("The Magic Mead") 12. Gennem Ild og Vand
("Through Fire and Water") 13. Balladen om Balder
("The Ballad of Balder") 14. Muren
("The Wall") 15. Vølvens syner
("The Sibyl's Visions")
Provides Examples Of:
- Abusive Parent: Tyr's father.
- Adaptational Villainy: Vili and Ve, Odin's two brothers, though to be fair, the actual myths give them little to no characterisation at all. Likewise, Hoenir in the eleventh album is made into an evil mastermind who is behind Mimir and Gilling's murders and is given a complete personality reversal from the myths going from a quiet Extreme Doormat to a Jerk Ass Control Freak.
- Adaptation Expansion: Lots of extra plot threads and characterizations are added to the original myths.
- The Movie was adapted into the fourth and fifth album, which greatly expands on its story, adding many new scenes and more properly explains things that might seem a little nonsensical in the movie itself.
- Affably Evil: Several of the jotunns have traces of this, but Utgards-Loki, one of the few jotunn characters who's actually portrayed as intelligent, is the clearest example.
- Alternate Character Interpretation: Of the Gods in original stories of the Norse mythology. Mostly of the humorous kind, as several of the gods are (mostly sympathetic) caricatures.
- Anachronism Stew: Odin and Mimir are often seen playing chess. Other modern-time references usually fall under Rule of Funny.
- Annoying Younger Sibling: Roskva to Tjalfe. This is especially clear in the first album, though both children go through a lot of Character Development over the series, and Roskva proves to be the more levelheaded of the two.
- Art Evolution: Naturally, given that the last album was published thirty years after the first one. Even so, the style stays remarkably consistent from the fourth album and onward.
- Ascended Extra: Thor's servants, Tjalfe and Roskva, are very minor characters in the original myths (Tjalfe only appears in a couple of stories, Roskva only in one), but have been given major roles in this series, serving as viewpoint characters for several stories.
- Also, Utgards-Loki only appears in one original myth (coincidentally the same one that introduces Tjalfe and Roskva), but is a recurring villain in the comic and possibly the closest the series has to a Big Bad. While not actually a threat to the gods for the most part, he does pull off quite a few Batman Gambits in the hope of humiliating or harming them. He's pretty much the only major villain in the series who is not killed.
- Utgards-Loki actually is not a case, except by Common Knowledge. Many of the myths associated where Loki is depicted as being evil are actually Utgards-Loki. How many is disputed, but Snorri's interpretation of the mythology, while the most widespread, contains many confirmed inaccuracies. For example, the binding of Loki is actually Utgards-Loki and pre-dates Loki's involvement with the death of Baldur (Hod killed Baldur due to jealousy, and Loki wasn't even mentioned, in the original myth). Pretty much any myth depicting Loki as flat out evil, is probably either false or a myth about Utgards-Loki.
- Attractive Bent-Gender: Subverted with Thor, who does not make for an attractive woman.
- Both played straight and subverted with Loki: When he dressed up as Freya's handmaiden, he thinks he's incredibly sexy but is the only one who thinks so. However, when he's disguised as a mare in order to distract the jotunn horse Svadilfare, the horse finds him irresistible.
- Badass Boast: Thor, Heimdall and Loki are all extremely fond of this, but only Thor can regularly back it up.
- Berserk Button: When Odin sees the Jotunn torment Angar as entertainment.
- Freya does not take it well when the male gods try to sell her off to Thrym in return for Mjollnir.
- She's even more upset when, once the guys have persuaded her, they decide to dress up Thor instead and ditch her.
- Blatant Lies: Loki (naturally) is prone to this. He denies being the father of Sleipner, but all evidence points to him having given birth to the horse. In an ealier comic he tries to explain Fenrir's appearece the same way thus impling that he is the father of the wolf as well. He also denies being Hel's father to her face, but as far as we know this is a lie as well. He also claims to have no sexuality but keeps a lock of Freyja's hair and had the hots for Idun.
- Brilliant but Lazy: Loki. When Tjalfe tells Roskva that Odin doesn't do any work because he's a king, Roskva asks if Loki's a king, too. Right before Loki, true to form, gets the kids to do his work for him.
- Canon Foreigner: Quark, the ill-tempered Jotunn kid, does not appear in any of the original myths but was invented for the series. He appears in The Movie and the two albums based on it, as well as some background appearances in other albums. For a while was considered the Breakout Character, starring his own animated TV series and newspaper comic, but he avoids becoming The Scrappy largely because his actual appearances in Valhalla are so sparse.
- A somewhat amusing development. In the second album the author plays around with Jotunn names along the lines of "H[insert dairy product]". The reason for this is the existence in the myths of the jotunn "Hymir", in modern danish "Hymer". Ymer is a dairy product ... alright stay with me fellows ... so Madsen inserts a series of names based on soured milk and the like. These include a single background gag involving a misbehaved jotunn brat someone calles Hquark ... Dang, a joke just isn't much fun when you explain it is it? ... Anyway this kid seems to have lodged himself in Madsen's brain, springing to life in the aforementioned albums etc.
- Character Development: Heimdall undergoes this in Freya's Necklace. Previous volumes cast him as a pompous, cowardly fool, but Freya's charms cause a more sensitive, chivalric, and even thoughtful side of his character to come to the surface. Not to mention the fact that when he realizes the extent of Loki's mischief he goes on a rampage, finally proving that the titles he keeps harping on about(The All-Seeing Aesir, The All-Hearing Aesir) aren't just for show.
- Tjalfe and Roskva also go through noticable Character Development over the course of the series; Tjalfe gradually becomes less foolish and insensitive, and more inclined to think before he acts, while Roskva goes from a naive little child to a far more insightful and intelligent young lady.
- Chased Off into the Sunset: One of the albums ends this way. Earlier in the story, Loki lures a giant's horse away to make sure the giant can't complete a bet. He does this by disguising himself as a mare - and months later, comes back with a gift for Odin, the eight-legged steed Sleipnir. Loki runs into the male horse again at the end of the story and promptly flees for his life with the horse in pursuit.
- Chaste Hero: Balder. A lot of women are interested in him, but he's saving himself for the right one. This leads to the comic's huge Crack Pairing, namely Balder/Hel.
- The Chessmaster: Odin, in addition to have a fondness for the actual game, is portrayed as such in several of the stories (though not in the ones where he's the main character).
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Of a slightly darker variety. Tyr's mother, in 'The Serpent in the Abyss', comments on how "nice" their family life used to be before Tyr ran away from home. Said family life having included regular verbal abuse from Tyr's cranky, many-headed grandmother, as well as physical abuse from his father Hymir.
- Cock-a-Doodle Dawn: A Running Joke is Thor throwing Mjölnir at a crowing rooster to shut it up. This only inconveniences roosters when he's staying somewhere on an adventure, though; the Valhalla rooster has learnt to dodge.
- Companion Cube: Thor has a tendency to treat Mjölnir as a pet in addition to a weapon — most notably in the second album, where it's stolen by Thrym and Thor panics because the hammer "isn't used to being alone." May be slightly justified in that Mjölnir is a magical hammer and on one or two occasions (mostly for brief gags) has shown some semblance of sentience.
- Composite Character: In The Wall, Frey's messenger and servant Skirnir is in fact Tjalfe, operating under an assumed name.
- Freyja and Sol are the same combinded into a single godess and Frigg and Jord have the same treatment. But this also reflects some actual theories about these godesses.
- Röskva is revealed to be the same as the titular völva of Völuspa.
- Courtly Love: Heimdall spends most of "Freya's Necklace" having a 'romantic ideal' type of crush on Freya and is actually offended when she propositions him. Subverted in the ending.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Heimdall is for the most part portrayed as a self-important, blustering fool with a huge cowardly streak... but as Loki finds out, if you actually get him riled enough, he becomes dangerous.
- Hoedir might also count; he's not the parodic figure that Heimdall is, but for the majority of the series he's more or less the harmless blind background character that hardly anyone notices. When he gets his Day in the Limelight, though, he thoroughly demonstrates why underestimating the blind guy is not a good idea.
- Day in the Limelight: Many, including Tyr's in 'The Serpent in the Abyss', Heimdall's in 'Freya's Necklace' and Hoedir's in The Ballad of Balder.
- Deadpan Snarker: Several of the gods have their moments, but Loki (not surprisingly) has the most.
- Dirty Coward: Loki may talk big, but ask him to actually face real danger and he'll grab any excuse to not have to.
- Dirty Old Man: Odin has definite shades of this.
- Disneyfication: Mostly subverted. While the comic is definitely Lighter and Softer than the original myths, and the cartoony drawings and slapstick sequences can make it seem like it's aimed at a younger audience, there are a lot of mature themes in the stories, and quite a bit of blood, nudity and sexual references.
- The Ditz: Idunn. Balder, on occasion.
- Dumb Blonde: Played fairly straight with Idunn, but completely averted with Freya, who may occasionally be giggly and flirty but is consistently portrayed as one of the smartest and most skillful of all the gods.
- Dumb Muscle: Thor is definitely viewed as this by several of the other gods (especially Loki), though in reality he's generally thoughtless rather than stupid. When he actually bothers to use his brain, he can be quite cunning.
- Ethical Slut: Freya swings between being this and an Innocent Fanservice Girl, often within the same story. She is quite open about her sexuality and often hits on the male gods, but in the end she is more concerned about love than sex. The prospect of being forced into a loveless marriage disgusts her, and it's also notable that she never hits on any of the married men.
- Fiery Redhead: Thor.
- Good Is Not Nice: Again, many of the gods have definite touches of this, displaying some extremely morally questionable behavior, though in most cases it's used for comic effect. Odin is probably the clearest example of the trope; he usually doesn't bother to get involved in anything unless there's something in it for him personally — and when there is, he'll lie, cheat, steal and sleep around to get what he wants — but he does have his own moral code that he follows very strictly, and when it comes down to it he does ultimately have everyone's best interests at heart.
- Heroic BSOD: Tyr undergoes one when he's forced to confront his parentage in The Serpent in the Abyss.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Odin pulls on in the last issue to reverse Ragnarök, but if Röskva's vision is anything to go by he will rise again.
- Honorary Uncle: Loki (somewhat unwillingly) to Thor's children — when they are old enough to talk, they even call him "Uncle Loki."
- Hotter and Sexier: The comic never shied away from sexual references and nudity, but the eighth album, "Freya's Necklace" — hoo boy.
- Informed Flaw: In "Thor's Wedding" and "Through Fire and Water", it's implied that Thor is pretty much a helpless weakling without his hammer. In contrast, most of the other stories portray him as the strongest and most invincible being in existence, with or without his hammer.
- "Through Fire and Water" spends pretty much the entire story subverting this notion. After being insulted by Frey as Dumb Muscle who can't do anything without his hammer, Thor decides he's going to help Loki free Odin using nothing but his wits... And succeeds. Also subverted in that he went along fully armoured and gauntleted under his winter clothes, allowing him to do a Bullet Catch in the climax. "Without his hammer" does not mean "unarmed".
- Jerkass: Loki, though unlike in the myths not a malicious one (usually).
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Thor is temperamental, thoughtless, insensitive and with a big selfish streak, but he's also genuinely kind and honorable.
- Especially evident in 'The Serpent in the Abyss'. Thor is probably the Aesir who most hates Jotunns, and certainly the one who enjoys beating them up the most; however, when he discovers the truth about Tyr's father, he defends him against Heimdall's accusations and states, in his own way, that he respects Tyr as a warrior and commander, in spite of the intense rivalry between them, and that he considers Tyr's parentage inconsequential.
- Kid Sidekick: Tjalfe, to Thor.
- Never Say "Die": Averted, and hilariously played with in the thirteenth album, when Loki upon finding himself in the underworld tries to ask Hel if he's really dead or not. He uses every every possible euphemism for "death," only to have her completely misunderstand them all, until he breaks down and screams the real word. Translated and paraphrased:
Loki: What brings me here... to the kingdom of the dead... ulp! Does this mean I have... passed away?
Hel: Away? You're right here.
Loki: Have I found my peace?
Hel: You don't look very peaceful.
Loki: Ceased to breathe?
Hel: Doesn't sound like it.
Loki: Kicked the bucket?
Hel: What bucket?
Loki: Danced the last dance... perished... pushing up the daisies... snuffed out... croaked... Am I DEAD, damn it?!
- He isn't, he's just dreaming.
- Nice Guy: Balder, which should come as no surprise to anyone.
- Non-Malicious Monster: The huge wolf Fenris (who was the most dangerous monster in Norse mythology) turns out to only be a over-sized dog, who was controlled and abused by the evil giant Surtr.
- Omnicidal Maniac: Surtr, like in the original myth.
- Pet the Dog: Loki gets a few in the first volume, Cry Wolf. He pleads with the Aesir to allow the Fenris wolf to roam free (note however that in that volume Fenris has the temperament of a loveable pooch who just happens to be oversized, even if being chained up is his Berserk Button.) Also near the end of the volume when he tells Roskva she can take Fenris out for walks as long as she isn't seen. Makes sense if you know that Fenris is Loki's son.
- Polly Wants a Microphone: Huginn and Muninn, Odin's ravens, are full-fledged Talking Animals who spend their appearances in roughly equal parts giving cryptic advice and making bad jokes.
- In The Movie, the "Cryptic advice" part is emphasized to the point where the other characters seldom understand what in the world the two ravens are even talking about.
- Pragmatic Adaptation: Since there are so many versions of the legends, this becomes a necessity... but it's pulled off well, often paying homage to even the versions that turn out incompatible with the comic's continuity. Most importantly, the Jerkass tendencies of the gods are toned down (though by no means done away with altogether) in order to keep them from becoming too unsympathetic.
- Really Gets Around: Freya certainly has this reputation, though it's probably exaggerated. Odin, on the other hand...
- Running Gag: One that runs through several albums is that of a crowing rooster getting hit by Thor's thrown hammer.
- Self-Serving Memory: Both Thor, Sif and Loki display this in the Whole Episode Flashback album 10, Gifts for the Gods. All three of them are telling the children a story from their youth, and all three of them remember events slightly differently.
- Single-Minded Twins: It's never said whether they actually are twins or not, but Odin's brothers, Vili and Ve, play this trope completely straight.
- Same with the two dwarf brothers, Fjalar and Gjalar. Two other dwarf brothers, Eitri and Brokk, act like this in their first appearance in Cry Wolf, but not in their second appearance in Gifts for the Gods, where Brokk gets far more screen-time and attention.
- Shout-Out: Several, often to myths that for reasons of characterization and continuity are not part of the comic.
- The third album also includes a notable Shout-Out to the Marvel Comics, when Odin meets Balder, Thor and Loki disguised as three mortal warriors named Fander, Hogur and Voldsdag — Lawyer Friendly Cameos of Fandral, Hogun and Volstagg.
- Not sure if it was an intentional Shout-Out or not, but you can definitely see some traces of Marvel's Thor in Tjalfe's dream sequence in the ninth album, where Thor passes Mjölnir on to him and tells him that from now on he is to be the "new Thor." In this sequence, Tjalfe is wearing a winged helmet and a red cape (and of course he's already blonde and beardless), making the parallels noticable.
- Also in the third album, a mortal woman named Thora, who is said to be "the fairest of them all" looks almost exactly like Disney's Snow White.
- In the second album, the band that plays at Thrym's wedding looks suspiciously like The Electric Mayhem.
- When asked to come up with a way to capture Fenris in the first album, Loki exclaims "I've got a plan!", to which Heimdall timidly asks "Is it dangerous?" - similar to an oft repeated exchange between criminal mastermind Egon Olsen and his cowardly henchman Kjeld in the long-running Danish crime-comedy film series Olsen-banden.
- In the third album a beserker is seen brandishing a sawn-off sword and shouting "Does he want somehing from the sawn-off", a Catch Phrase from the classic Danish comic Pirelli and Firestone by Claus Deleuran.
- Smart People Play Chess: Odin and Mimir play chess all the time. Mimir always wins.
- Spared by the Adaptation: Several characters who die in the original myths live in the comic.
- Loki deserves special mention. In the original myths, after killing Balder and taunting the gods, he is bound and imprisoned in an underground cave with a snake dripping poison in his face, and does not get free until Ragnarok, when he leads the attack on Asgard and is killed by Heimdall. In the comic, where Loki is far less malicious, these things are all alluded to and given Shout Outs, but do not actually happen.
- Suspect Is Hatless: Subverted in "Odin's Wager", when Thor tries to describe his encounter with a mysterious stranger. Loki asks "How many eyes did he have?", and it occurs to Thor that the stranger was, in fact, one-eyed, which means it was probably Odin (who has been missing for a while).
- Tagalong Kid: Roskva starts off as a pure example of this. Tjalfe, to a lesser degree. They both come into their own over the course of the stories.
- Traumatic Haircut: On two separate occasions, both of which bring notable plot developments. The straightest example (and the only one that's actually mentioned in the original myths) is Sif's haircut by Loki, but on a separate occasion Tyr also gets one after an argument with his hairdresser — it's played more humorously, but when his new short hair reveals that he has the ears of a jotunn and a scar on his forehead because he was the son of a jotunn who abused him as a child, it's suddenly not as funny anymore.
- Subverted at one point with Tjalfe, who acts as if he's getting a Traumatic Haircut, but the only result is a slightly different hairstyle.
- Tyrant Takes the Helm: Part of the plot of Odin's Wager involves Odin's two decidedly less talented brothers taking over leadership of Asgard in his absence. A case of Adaptational Villainy, as in the story this idea came from Vili and Ve immediately handed Asgard back to Odin when he returned.
- Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Loki. Odin in Odin's Wager.
- Whole Episode Flashback: Both the tenth and eleventh album count as this, the former being Thor, Sif and Loki telling the kids about how Sif got her golden hair and Thor his hammer (this is also an example of Self-Serving Memory, as all three gods remember the events slightly differently), and the latter being Odin narrating a story from his younger days, in an over-the-top Film Noir detective parody.
- There are many shorter flashback sequences in the comic as well, especially in the later albums.
- Women Are Wiser: Frigg and Sif are definitively more grounded than their husbands. In Frigg's case this was pretty much her role in the original myths as well, and is carried over.