is a Franco-Belgian comic series written by Van Hamme and illustrated by Rosinski, started in 1977 and was originally published in serial form by the magazine Tintin
and from 1980 on in hardcover volumes by Le Lombard
The series, which combines the classic Heroic Fantasy
with elements of Science Fiction
follows the adventures of the eponymous hero Thorgal, "The Child of the Stars", an orphan discovered by Vikings in a space capsule during a tempest and raised among them.
In the first album of the series (The Sorceress Betrayed
), Thorgal is banished and sentenced to death by Gandalf-the-Mad (no, not that Gandalf
), king of the Vikings of the North, who despises him as a "bastard", and opposes the love between his daughter Aaricia and Thorgal. Rescued by a mysterious woman called Slive, he must accept to serve her for one year. It is later revealed (in The Island Of Frozen Seas
) that she is a survivor of a race of Ancient Astronauts
(actually Atlants who fled from Earth by the times of the cataclysm) whose ship crashed in the North Pole several years ago. Thorgal is revealed to be the last descendant of the "People of the Stars".
Although Thorgal's only wish
is to settle and live peacefully
with his wife, Aaricia, he is constantly faced with natural or supernatural foes from ruthless adventurers to monsters of Norse Mythology
who threaten his family and friends
The albums are as follow:
- 1. The Betrayed Sorceress (incl. another story: "Almost Paradise")
- 2. The Island of Frozen Seas
- 3. Three Ancients of the Realm of Aran
- 4. The Black Galley (start of the Brek Zarith story arc)
- 5. Beyond the Shadows
- 6. The Fall of Brek Zarith (end of the Brek Zarith story arc)
- 7. Child of the Stars (3 short stories from Thorgal's youth)
- 8. AlinoŽ
- 9. The Archers (start of the Qa story arc)
- 10. The Land of Qa
- 11. The Eyes of Tanatloc
- 12. City of the Lost God
- 13. Between Earth and Light (end of the Qa story arc)
- 14. Aaricia (4 short stories from Aaricia's youth)
- 15. Lord of the Mountains
- 16. She-Wolf
- 17. The Guardian of the Keys
- 18. The Sun-sword
- 19. The Invisible Fortress (start of the Shaigan story arc)
- 20. The Mark of Exiles
- 21. The Crown of OgotaÔ
- 22. Giants
- 23. The Cage (end of the Shaigan story arc)
- 24. Arachnea
- 25. The Blue Plague
- 26. The Kingdom under the Sands
- 27. The Barbarian
- 28. Kriss of Valnor
- 29. Sacrifice
- 30. I, Jolan
- 31. Shield of Thor
- 32. The Battle of Asgard
- 33. The Swordboat
- 34. Kah-Aniel
There are now a few Spin-Offs: Under the name of "The world of Thorgal"
- The world of Thorgal - Kriss of Valnor
- 1. I wont forget anything
- 2. The punishment of the Valkyries
- 3. Worthy of a Queen
- 4. Alliances
- 5. Red like the Raheborg
- The world of Thorgal - Louve
- 1. RaÔssa
- 2. The severed hand of the god Tyr
- 3. The kingdom of chaos
- 4. Crow
- 5. Skald
- The World of Thorgal - Thorlgal's youth
- 1. The three Sisters MinkelsŲnn
- 2. The eye of Odin
The series provides examples of the following tropes:
- Abdicate the Throne: One of the early stories has Thorgal helping a kid reclaim the throne (rightful heir, Evil Uncle killed his brother to get the throne, enlist help of Viking army in exchange for treasure, yadda yadda yadda). After much fighting, they finally make it to the throne room... where the Evil Uncle abdicates in favor of his nephew, wishing him good luck with the intrigues and backstabbing that comes with it. The story would end there, except Uncle intends to leave with Thorgal's wife in his luggage... Asskicking ensues.
- Actually, they don't meet in the throne room, but in the treasury vault and they don't even realize Shardar (the evil uncle) was in there with them until he activated a mechanism that caused the treasury's floor to open up and cause its entire contents (and the leader of the Viking army) to disappear into a deep chasm underneath it, effectively leaving the new ruler with a bankrupt kingdom.
- Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder: Aaricia sleeps with her suitor (and maybe starts a relationship with) after the latter tricked her to believe that Thorgal died.
- Adrenaline Make Over : Aaricia's transformation at the beginning of the OgotaÔ Arc has to be seen to be believed.
- Alas, Poor Villain: When he is shot in the back by Kriss and dying, Ogotay (by now thoroughly Axe Crazy) regains a shred of sanity and recognizes Thorgal, whom he was about to kill, as his son, lost and presumed dead several decades ago. From his expression, he briefly regrets a great many things before he passes on.
- Anachronism Stew: The setting is supposedely Europe circa A.C. 1000. Yet it features armor and weapons from the 13th or even 15th century, like crossbows. Also, spaceships.
- And Mayan zeppelins.
- The Byzantine Empire is shown to exist in Thorgal's setting. However, it has more of a resemblance to the empire in the 5th and 6th centuries (or even earlier) rather than the medieval empire during the Viking Age. Also, an alternate version of Christianity apparently exists in the form of Yahvus, the Emperor Magnus' god.
- ...And That Little Girl Was Me: Three times.
- In Child of the Stars, a 12-year-old Thorgal met an elder god who told him about how the Atlantes came to Earth. The "god" is revealed to be Xargos, Thorgal's grandfather.
- In The Invisible Fortress, an elder woman Alayin tells the story about the invisible fortress that Odin built and kept guarded by the walkyrie Taymir. In the end, Alayin is revealed to be Taymir herself.
- In Arachnea, in the underworld, Louve is rescued by an old lady who later tells her the story of the princess Serenia who was turned into Arachnea, a giant spider, by the gods for her father's crimes. Louve correctly guess that the old woman is Arachnea in human form.
- Annoying Arrows: Averted. Arrows are dangerous for the characters and downright deadly for mooks. Arghun shows a full assortment of different arrows, including armor-piercing and whistilng arrows to scare enemies.
- Ancient Astronauts
- Aristocrats Are Evil: The initial king of Brek Zarith, among others. In fact, the overwhelming majority of the aristocrats in the story are corrupt.
- The prince of Brek Zarith Thorgal helps to reclaim the throne is an exception, being shown as well-intentioned but powerless to end the corruption in his own court.
- Artifact of Doom: Jolan's bracelet in AlinoŽ. Once Thorgal removes it
- Awesome Mc Cool Name: Thorgal Aegirsson: Gift of the Thundergod, Son of the Sea-Giant. Jorund-the-Bull is also rather appropriately named...
- Thorgal's daughter is named Louve, which means She-Wolf.
- Back from the Dead: Thorgal, though it was for a short time. As of the latest album, it seems even Kriss gets a chance to return to the land of the living. (or maybe "forced" is just as appropriate)
- Badass Normal: Xargos inhibited Thorgal's Psychic Power in the hope that he could have a normal life. Therefore, Thorgal is the only descendant of the People of the Stars to not have any special powers, contrary to his children Jolan and She-Wolf.
- Balancing Death's Books: In Beyond the Shadows.
- Blasting It out of Their Hands: Jolan's signature method of dealing with armed enemies is using his psychic powers to disintegrate or melt their weapons. The targets are shown in pain as if they burned their hands, but are otherwise unharmed.
- Boisterous Bruiser: All Vikings, though Jorund stands out.
- Bow and Sword, in Accord
- Bury Your Gays: Brunhild's entourage doesn't tolerate her attraction to women. She dies later in Kriss' arms.
- Butterfly of Death and Rebirth: They feature prominently—and are a plot point—in "Beyond the Shadows".
- Cats Have Nine Lives: In Children of the Stars, Thorgal is helped by two talking winged cats. One of them dies in a pursuit. Thorgal says to the surviving one that he is sorry for its death, but the other cat shows up fine, asking him "Don't you know cats have nine lives?".
- Characterization Marches On: In The Betrayed Sorceress, Thorgal is a hot-tempered vengeful warrior and is a quiet misogynist (he hesitated becoming the slave of a woman which may hurt his pride) and swears. It's far from the wise Badass Pacifist he appears as later. This can also be seen as Character Development because at the end of the first album, he claims to be sick of violence and spares Gandalf's life (though since later stories taking place before The Betrayed Sorceress also portray him as a pacifist, it's most likely indeed an example of the writers refining the character over time).
- One also has to consider that time passes in the Thorgal books - unlike most other comic books. In The Betrayed Sorceress both Thorgal and Aaricia are in their late teens, while in the later albums they're the parents of a teenaged son and two younger children. It's clear that Thorgal has gotten older and wiser over the years. And even then, he still makes mistakes, with some of them having dreadful consequences (Such as the events leading up to the Shaigan story arc).
- Aaricia in early albums was a Satellite Love Interest and a Brainless Beauty. The issues of Three Ancients of the Realm of Aran happened after she took a massive Idiot Ball. She gained depth with The Fall of Brek Zarith.
- Clap Your Hands If You Believe: What happens when you mix a mysterious artifact, Psychic Powers and Imaginary Friend?
- It is revealed in the later albums that the Norse Gods are subject to this as well. If the people of Midgard were to stop believing in them (due to, say, the conquests of a Christian emperor who demands all those he conquers to convert to his religion), they'd simply stop existing. This is the reason Manthor sends Jolan and his fellow-initiates out to oppose Emperor Magnus.
- Combat Pragmatist: Aplenty, especially if the opponent is a Giant Mook.
- Continuity Porn: The Invisible Fortress is made of this.
- Contrived Clumsiness: The drink-spill variant gets pulled by some random Viking, to humiliate Thorgal, who is a beggar at that time (due to Angst Coma after he thinks his wife and child have died) and can't defend himself.
- Creepy Child: AlinoŽ.
- Criminal Amnesiac: During the Shaigan story arc, albeit a remorseful one.
- Crippling the Competition: Thorgal and his friends, excellent bowmen taking part in an archery competition, are jumped by a group of thugs led by their competitor, who says that there's no need to kill them... just break their wrists.
- Crystal Dragon Jesus: Yahvus, the Emperor Magnus' god.
- Dark Action Girl: Kriss of Valnor.
- Departure Means Death: The three sisters live in a secret valley inside a glacier. The valley is a time anomaly that has allowed them to live for centuries but they cannot leave for fear of time "catching up to them".
- Despair Event Horizon: Ogotay watched his friends, family and wife die as they struggled to survive on a hostile Earth after their spaceship crashed in the Arctic. Also, their expedition was of vital importance to his civilization, and its failure most likely meant its utter extinction. And since he was the ranking officer among the initial survivors, he held himself responsible for it all. Eventually, it drew him crazy.
- He was pretty much at fault, since his greed and lust for power led him to overthrow the expedition's original ranking officer in a coup when they were still in space. With said ranking officer being Xargos, his own father-in-law, to boot. After that, it was all downhill...
- Disney Villain Death: Plenty
- Double Standard: Rape, Female on Female: A particular egregious example occurs in the third album about Kriss. She had been raped by men at least twice (in The Archers and The punishment of the Valkyries) and it has been implied that she had been sexually abused by her step-father. Each time, she killed them mercilessly as vengeance. In this album, when she find out her female fellower Brunhild drugged her and had sex with her, she was just slightly annoyed. The scene is played for fanservice. Apart from this, Brunhild is portrayed as a nice girl...
- Dying Moment of Awesome: Kriss. It even gets her into Valhalla.
- Note that getting into Valhalla isn't exactly difficult (at least not in the way say, getting into the Christian Heaven or escaping Samsara is said to be). If you die in battle, you have a strict 50/50 chance of ending up there, no matter how much of a cunt you have been in life. The other possible result is to land in Freya's realm, which isn't so bad either. To the Norse, the big sin was to die of natural causes (or, according to some traditions, without a sword in your hand - hence dying men requesting their weapons). Vikings were pretty metal, if you weren't aware of that :) It may not stick though.
- Early Installment Weirdness: The two first albums have a narrator (and not a very useful one) which disappears quickly after. Nearly all the backstory of the Atlantes introduced in the second album have been retconned.
- Also, the first album features a Thorgal who is much more aggressive and vengeful than he is in later stories. It's not Character Development since later stories that take place in his childhood also depict him as a pacifist who won't fight or kill unless absolutely necessary.
- Fate Worse Than Death: Volsung, eventually.
- Faux Action Girl: According to Word of God, Aaricia has fighting abilities...which she never shows apart from stabbing a man in the back once.
- Femme Fatale: Kriss of Valnor.
- First Episode Spoiler: or Second Album spoiler Thorgal is the last descendant of the People of the Stars). It's pretty hard to describe the series without mention it.
- From Bad to Worse: In AlinoŽ it starts with a Not-So-Imaginary Friend, and ends up with Thorgal's house getting burned to the ground, Aaricia attacked by multiple copies of AlinoŽ and Jolan almost drowning.
- Future Badass: Jolan in The Crown of Ogotai ends up becoming a huge bearded Viking (except he doesn't- it's complicated).
- Giant Spider: Shows up in Arachnea.
- Girl-on-Girl Is Hot: Kriss of Valnor offers to sleep with Aaricia at one point. She refuses and goes to bed with a knife.
- A God Am I: OgotaÔ combines God Guise with megalomania into this trope.
- Godiva Hair: The Key Guardian.
- Good Scars, Evil Scars: Thorgal keeps a scar on his cheek from the very beginning of the series where Gandalf gashed it.
- Heroic BSOD: When Thorgal thinks his wife has died.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Kriss. Also, Thorgal numerous times, and eventually Jolan.
- Horny Vikings: In all their glory.
- Human Aliens: The People of the Stars are originally from Earth.
- Improbable Aiming Skills
- Killer Rabbit: The guardian of the land of the giants in Giants first appears as a group of cute, fluffy puppy-like creatures. Those are actually merely its heads situated on long stalks and their underbellies are one big mouth filled with rows of sharp teeth.
- In the second Louve album, Louve's wild half and her companion run into a creature that looks like a cute squirrel. It turns out to have many razor-sharp teeth when it opens its mouth and it comes in LARGE groups.
- Knights and Knaves: This riddle is used in Sacrifice.
- Large Ham: Jorund the Bull.
- Last of His Kind: Averted, turns out that he's not.
- Late-Arrival Spoiler: In new editions, the back of each albums features Thorgal, Aaricia and their two children.
- The cover of City of the Lost God pictures Tjall dying in Thorgal's arms.
- Low Culture, High Tech
- Luke, I Am Your Father: Inverted, OgotaÔ is Thorgal's father but it's Thorgal who finds out first.
- Manipulative Bastard: Or rather, manipulative bitch is the best way to describe Kriss of Valnor. The only person in the world she was shown truly caring for was her friend (and teacher) Sigwald. Whenever she works alongside other people, she's always using them for her own benefit or plans to betray them later. Despite Kriss having a crush on him, Thorgal is no exception to this rule (and in fact, a reluctant tool on more than one occasion).
- Mayincatec: The Land of Q‚.
- Mind over Matter: Arlac, one of Jolan's fellow-initiates seems to have the gift of telekinesis.
- Mind Screw: Lord of the Mountains. Try to find out what happened, and in which timeline. How did Torric die twice?
- Mistaken for Afterlife: Thorgal in the beginning of the story "Almost Paradise".
- The Multiverse
- Noble Wolf: She-Wolf was born as Aaricia was protected by wolves, and she has a special relation with them.
- Not-So-Imaginary Friend: AlinoŽ, to Jolan.
- Only The Chosen May Ride: Thorgal's horse, Fural. In the first volume, after getting rid of Thorgal, Gandalf holds a contest for who can keep himself on the horse's back for at least a few seconds, and of course all challengers end up tossed off immediately. Then Thorgal himself (in disguise) participates in the contest, and Fural becomes calm. Since Thorgal specifically wishes to lose, he stealthily wounds Fural with a sharp flint stone to get the horse agitated.
- Only You Can Repopulate My Race: Slive's original plan.
- Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Averted; dwarves are close to the original Norse creatures, but smaller. They look more like gnomes, in fact.
- Our Giants Are Bigger: In Giants.
- Ouroboros: In "The Lord of the Mountains", a ring that allows time travel takes the form of an Ouroboros.
- Plot Tailored to the Party: "Shield of Thor", it turns out Manthor need Jolan and his companions abilities to open the gate of Asgard.
- Psychic Powers: Thorgal's people were stated to have these, though only Ogotai and Tanatloc are shown actually using them. Jolan inherited them and uses them frequently, though the only power he can actually reliably control is the power to disintegrate objects.
- Psychopomp Death is a long-haired dessicated humanoid of indiscriminate gender. Its servants meanwhile are angel-like creatures, eyeless and with scythe blades for wings, flying through a void filled with people's life threads.
- Rage Against the Heavens: Menthor is assembling an army against Asgard.
- Later averted. He hated Asgard because the Gods cast out his mother, but when they welcome her back and restore her immortality, he puts aside his grudge or at least realizes acting on it would be counter-productive since his mother is part of Asgard now.
- Rape as Backstory: Kriss.
- Rapid Aging: several nightmare-inducing examples.
- Reality Warping Is Not a Toy
- Redemption Equals Death: Shaniah. And Kriss of Valnor, as well as Tjall.
- Religion of Evil: Ogotay, in his madness, institutes one among his Mayincatec followers, dedicated to himself and his late wife. It includes regular human sacrifice.
- In The Island of the Frozen Seas, the Atlant colony is supposed to be 120 years old. By Child of the Stars it is just one generation. Or perhaps they didn't know any better yet.
- In The Betrayed Sorceress, Aaricia's mother is said to have died while giving birth to her. In Aaricia's self-titled album, her mother died when she was a little girl.
- Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: In Shield of Thor, the red wizards cut off the tongue of the old woman who delivered Aniel to them.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Kriss, against the village where she was raised, along with Kill 'em All and Kill It with Fire.
- Sacrificial Revival Spell: Thorgal is in a place with bright glowing strings all around him representing human lives. He will only get his life back if he cuts a single one, killing the person. He refuses, but Shaniah cuts it herself. Thorgal returns to life, but as they leave, she fades away, as it was her own lifeline she'd cut.
- Samus is a Girl: The Three Eagle Lord is Slive's daughter in The Island of Frozen Seas.
- The first Saxegard in the Lord of the Mountains is one
- Senseless Sacrifice: In The Invisible Fortress, Thorgal accepts to have all his memories erased in order to have the gods "forget" him, and leave him and his family in peace; Kriss of Valnor uses his amnesia to persuade him to adventure with her as a pirate lord.
- Significant Anagram: Jolan Thorgalson hides himself under the identity of Taljar Sologhonn as a warrior king.
- Speaks Fluent Animal: She-Wolf can communicate with animals.
- Spider Swarm: Thorgal once runs into a woman whose true form is a Giant Spider due to a curse, who can control her tens of thousands of children.
- Time Travel: Three Ancients of the Realm of Aran, The Lord of the Mountains, The Crown of OgotaÔ.
- Took a Level in Badass : Aaricia is a textbook example. Since the series started so long ago she was initially set up as a classic Damsel in Distress, complete with some very stupid decisions when the plot required it. She then had her own album, focusing on her childhood, to give her character development and highlight her very strategical spirit. When the OgotaÔ Arc began she upgraded to Action Girl. Also, Jolan starts as a spoiled brattish child before he takes a level in badass. Then eventually he takes another one by bringing his future self in to help him.
- Trick Arrow: Treefoot made arrows of all kinds, including sickle-heads to cut ropes, blunt ones to knock people out and whistling ones to scare people.
- Unobtainium: The "metal which doesn't exist". It does exist anyway; it refers to a metal from another world.
- The Virus: The titular disease in The Blue Plague.
- Walking Shirtless Scene: Thorgal seems to spend more time in just a loincloth than in actual clothing.
- Warrior Poet: One that would rather be poet than warrior. Thorgal was a Skald (Scandinavian Bard) in his youth, courtesy of his tribe's king Gandalf-the-Mad as an attempt to keep him isolated from the rest.
- Weirdness Magnet: The fact that Thorgal does not belong to this world wreaks havoc on his destiny.
- What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: The powers are spread fairly unevenly among Manthor's pupils. Ingvild's sole "power" is good agility and a superhuman sense of balance and Draye possesses the not extremely impressive power of levitation. On the other end of the spectrum is Arlac, whose telekinesis is strong enough to hurl heavy candelabras across the room or pin a grown man in his chair. But even his power seems weak compared to Jolan, who can melt people's weapons, heal others and desintegrate/reconstruct objects and who, as shown in the Qa and Shaigan arcs, also seems to have telepathic abilities and the ability to use his powers over a distance.
- Woman Scorned: Galathorn's sister does not take well to Thorgal not sleeping with her.
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair: AlinoŽ is green-haired, that's why Aaricia treats him as Jolan's Imaginary Friend when he tells her about him at first.
- Zeppelins from Another World: And they are Mayincatec Zeppelins.