Friday, January 5, 2018

Domain Of The Dead!

As lauded as the barbarian known as Harokin was in his prior appearances in Mighty Thor, it comes as little surprise that he was chosen as leader of the Einherjar--those who have passed on to death and selected by the Valkyries to live on in eternal battle and glory in Valhalla (though in legend, they prepare for the day when they're called to participate in the carnage of Ragnarok). Readers of those stories that featured him would have to wait a decade to follow up on the character, though it would seem there's really little that would change for Harokin--the "afterlife" in Valhalla is the ultimate wish for every warrior who lived for battle, as Harokin did, and so that's where he'll always be and that's what he'll always be doing. However, thanks to Hela, the Goddess of Death, Valhalla is slowly being made over into her image--indeed, it's now being referred to as part of the Dimension of Death, where once it was intended to exist as something far different.

And it's to that domain that Thor must go, following an investigation into the disappearance of Odin and the discovery that after an exhaustive search, the All-Father cannot be found--that is, among the living. That leaves one very disturbing possibility that must be faced.

There is no turning Thor from his task--and so he makes the journey that no one living is meant to undertake. Naturally, once there, he hopes that the first sight he sees would be that of Odin--but it's the Einherjar who first greet him, though they mistake his sudden presence as proof that he joins their ranks as one of the fallen.

Unfortunately, for warriors who are enjoying an eternity of camaraderie and fulfillment...

...they're still a surly lot when you get right down to it.

Of course, being urged to accept death hasn't improved Thor's disposition, either.

On the one hand, it's probably only natural that Harokin and the rest of the Einherjar would engage in a new and challenging battle at the drop of a hat; but it seems quite another matter to actually seek to slay a warrior whose time of death hasn't yet been reached. Nor can we expect Harokin to be any more sensible, or be more of an ally to Thor, since the two never had much contact with each other to speak of while Harokin was alive. Here, Harokin's only interest is to forcibly pressure Thor into joining their ranks, whereas Thor has a mission to see to.

But in the midst of the battle, Thor falls victim to a distraction which can't help but divert his attention--a diversion that he can't afford when battling the Einherjar.

Despite the warrior's premature assessment of the fallen Thunder God's status, Thor is relieved to find upon waking that he still lives--and so Round Two begins, with Thor being fierce in his defiance as well as in his condemnation of the actions of the Einherjar.

Thor's mettle is not to be underestimated, and even Harokin's new "hordes" could be thinking that this battle may be one where even they might not prevail. But there is one thing likely to bring it to an abrupt halt for both sides: the sudden presence of Death itself, in the form of none other than Hela--once forbidden to venture into this land, but who now considers it her own. And with her arrival, Thor discovers to his sorrow that his quest has been a fruitless one.

(Which begs the question:  Why would the Valkyries choose Grombar and others like him to reside in Valhalla, if they no longer have the stamina or desire for combat? What glory do they hope to find on hilltops overlooking all that Valhalla stands for? Do they simply sift through their memories of past glories for all eternity?)

As for Thor, Hela surprisingly allows him to depart without conflict, despite Harokin's protests--but in keeping with her character, she assures Harokin that she's hardly doing the Thunder God any favors by being so "merciful."

Harokin would appear again with the Einherjar during Asgard's extended conflict with Surtur--and he would also be present when Thor is forced to engage Hela in order to free mortal souls that she had unduly captured. Harokin has no doubt learned a lot about brotherhood among the Einherjar, yet he learns even more when adding his right arm to the forces which oppose Surtur's demons--lessons not easy to assent to for one who had spent his life, and death, in the pursuit of battle.

Just whose Valhalla is it, anyway?


Anonymous said...

That Harokin is no slouch, if he can deck Thor like that. Of course, he is technically dead, and the dead do have eerie powers, according to Homer Simpson.
I've always dug the way all the goons in these deals have different armor and helmets, whether it's Kang's army or the hordes of Pluto. Express yourself, I say!
Looking forward to that new Thor movie, and I'm impressed by what I've seen on the U-tubes. I'm waiting till it shows up on HBO, so i can observe it in comfort. Hela looks pretty cool. Headgear and everything.
Hope you're doing okay, C.F. Heard the lizards were dropping out of the trees down there in Florida. Up here in South Dakota, we're coming out of a cold snap that would make Ymir gasp. Where are weather-controlling thunder gods when you need them?
Great post!


Comicsfan said...

Our iguana crisis was indeed startling, M.P., but as frigid as it's been here we Floridians often forget what you Dakotans (and certainly Canadians) face on a yearly basis. Of course the Asgardians have it worse than all of us, though Thor can just zip down to the Bahamas on Earth for the duration.

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