Monday, December 18, 2017

Sisters In Seduction

Before writer/artist Walt Simonson changed the Asgardian landscape in Mighty Thor and began introducing many more characters of the realm that interacted with the principals, the self-serving sorceress known as the Enchantress appeared to have no known ties to anyone (apart from her partner in crime, the Executioner). But Simonson changed that almost immediately when he began his distinguished run as the book's regular writer, and presented the Enchantress' younger sister, Lorelei--a first appearance which makes it clear that, when it comes to a talent for manipulation and betrayal, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

Loki's plan for Lorelei involved using her talents to seduce Thor in order to keep him occupied while Loki schemed for power--which is exactly why he sought out the Enchantress nearly twenty years earlier (our time, that is--for a race of immortals, two decades could amount to last June).

Both the Enchantress and Lorelei would pursue the Thunder God, though the Enchantress is more drawn to Thor as a long-term prospect whereas Lorelei acts at Loki's behest and eventually tends to lose interest once her schemes have run their course. That's not to say that the Enchantress hasn't treated her men like crap, tools to exploit as a means to an end (e.g., the Black Knight, Power Man, Arkon, et al.)--on the contrary, she's been shown to be quite callous, indulging in cat-and-mouse diversions with men as a form of momentary amusement, to her victims' eternal regret.

Take, for instance, an obsessed young warrior who has fought his way to her side, only to receive a cruel reward for his devotion.

Six years later, writer Tom DeFalco, who created that scene for the Enchantress in 1981, recycles it for Lorelei:

Yet DeFalco provides an added twist, when the pot arrives to call the kettle black.

Imagine a scolding from the Enchantress, of all people, on the pitfalls of indifference and cruelty and the value of love. There's no doubt that the Enchantress knows whereof she speaks, as trapped in a prison of her own making as she sounds here. Will Lorelei heed her advice? Unfortunately, it's apparent that what thought she does give to the matter is perfunctory, if that--and it seems her petrified suitor will be decorating her terrace indefinitely.

During the time Lorelei was succeeding with Thor--around the time Beta Ray Bill had first clashed with the Thunder God in a contest arranged by Odin--you'd think the lady Sif would have something to say about their affair. Sif had let her fists do the talking after finding Lorelei and Thor in a clearing--but while Bill is recuperating, Sif and Lorelei continue to jab at one another, while Odin appears to summarize the situation adequately.

Lorelei was also present when Loki attained his goal of overthrowing Odin and Thor and becoming the ruler of Asgard--and while it's true that the victor collects the spoils, Lorelei reminds the new lord of Asgard that others expect to collect their share of them, as well.

But Lorelei's, ah, talents would not always serve her in times of war. When Seth, the Egyptian god of death, on the threshold of victory over Asgard's forces, fights a battle to the death with Balder the Brave, who sits in Odin's stead, Lorelei hurls herself into the line of fire when hidden assassins take aim at the unsuspecting Balder.

Lorelei perishes under the watch of the grieving Enchantress, who is there to see Hela, the Goddess of Death, claim her prize. The realm is no stranger to tragic death during Seth's onslaught, however, as Balder is slain by Seth soon after Lorelei's sacrifice.

Yet when Seth resurrects Lorelei during the time following Ragnarok (well, one Ragnarok, anyway) and the gods were scattered in mortal form, the Enchantress finds that her sisterly bond with Lorelei is no longer present, with Lorelei having the upper hand against her sibling and meaning to take advantage of it.

Lorelei would return again, first to do Pluto's bidding and, later, becoming involved with Loki once more. But she arguably had already had her day, as Odin put it, during Simonson's run, and thereafter making some notable appearances during DeFalco's. The last I remember seeing her was in an Agents Of SHIELD episode--small wonder that she tagged along in Marvel's move to other media, no doubt sensing new opportunities and, needless to say, fresh game.

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