Nov 30, 2015

Karnilla: An Irrational Love Story, Part 2

Karnilla: An Irrational Love Story
Part 2 – Karnilla Le Pew
Ben Smith


I’ve written many things, about many different characters. Most of them sucked, some were entertaining. I don’t think anyone can deny my passion for the comics that I love, and all I can do is try and share with you that passion, maybe even inspire a few of you to purchase these comics for yourselves. (I’m like the James Halliday of comics, only without the billions of dollars, or cool video game contest.) If not for yourself, then for the children. Won’t someone think of the children? Seriously, go find a kid and shove some comics into his or her backpack. Don’t be so selfish.

My latest display of shameless irrational love, is for Karnilla the Norn Queen. Karnilla is the powerful (and sexy) ruler of Nornheim, a realm adjacent to Asgard. Her interests include, magic, scheming with Loki, and romancing Balder. The more aggressive she gets towards Balder, the faster he runs, like a grade school boy running away from icky girls during recess. He’s the noble, incorruptible, brave warrior. In other words, he’s a major bummer, and she makes him so miserable. I love her so much.

Let’s continue exploring why.

THOR #154
Writer/Editor: Stan Lee; Penciler: Jack Kirby; Inked By: Vince Colletta; Lettering: Artie Simek

Balder is adamant about leaving Nornheim and returning to help his friends, despite Karnilla’s advances.

Karnilla is not used to being rejected, and her lust quickly turns to rage. She unveils a group of Asgardians, immobilized by her magic for daring to incur her wrath. Balder recognizes them as the long-disappeared Legion of the Lost.

Balder is given a simple choice. Accept her hand, or suffer the same fate. (“Thou art brave, noble Balder! But the power is mine!” That’s her basically saying, you’re cute and all, but I will break you if I have to. You can break me, Karnilla. Please break me. I’ve been so good and noble.)


THOR #155
Writer/Editor: Stan Lee; Penciler: Jack Kirby; Inked By: Vince Colletta; Lettering: Artie Simek

Balder continues to spurn Karnilla’s love, because he’s a moron. True to her warning, she uses her magic powers to set the Legion of the Lost upon Balder in deadly combat.

Is it too much to hope that they succeed?
THOR #156
Writer/Editor: Stan Lee; Penciler: Jack Kirby; Inked By: Vince Colletta; Lettering: Sam Rosen

Balder continues his furious battle against the Legion of the Lost, while Karnilla continues to demand he submit to her will, or die.



(Two weeks ago I suggested that letterers don’t matter, because they would eventually be replaced by computers. This week I’d like to apologize. Not to letterers, but for failing to mention that we will all eventually be replaced by computers. Don’t feel bad, people that legibly write letters forming sentences, in service of a story. We will all fall under artificial rule. My only hope is that they allow access to sex bots for anyone supportive of their domination of the human race. It’s possible I’ve been too revealing this week.)

THOR #157
Writer/Editor: Stan Lee; Penciler: Jack Kirby; Inked By: Vince Colletta; Lettering: Sam Rosen

Balder continues to fight, until his sheer bravery (groan, sigh) frees the Legion of the Lost from Karnilla’s spell. Defeated and dejected, Karnilla sends the warriors back to Asgard. Alone, she bares her true feelings for the noble idiot. She really does love that simpleton.

I suspect Stan and Jack either didn’t know what to do with Balder, or wanted to keep him out of the larger action. So far in this run of comics they’ve been milking this same confrontation, with most of the dialogue being basically the same.

THOR #165
Writer/Editor: Stan Lee; Penciler: Jack Kirby; Inked By: Vince Colletta; Lettering: Artie Simek

Karnilla is still burned up over Balder rejecting her love. She calls upon loyal Haag the Seeress.


 Together, they will use the “space pool” to pluck Balder from wherever he may be, when the time is right.


On Midgard, Thor and Balder try to rescue Sif from Adam Warlock, who has decided to take her as his mate. (Adam shows up and just decides Sif is going to be his woman. It’s one of the more memorable storylines for me from the Stan and Jack era. Along with Thor’s fight with Hercules a while back. Look, their whole run is great, you should really rush out and buy it. After you finish reading this, of course.)

During a critical moment, Haag tries to snatch Balder away, but Thor fights her off, allowing Adam Warlock to disappear with Sif.


THOR #166
Writer/Editor: Stan Lee; Penciler: Jack Kirby; Inked By: Vince Colletta; Lettering: Sam Rosen

Karnilla and Haag continue their schemes on how to kidnap Balder, and make him her manservant. Karnilla’s looking ever more attractive as we go. Comic book attractive, that is. Don’t worry, I’m not one of those weirdos that gets overly attached to fictional women. Not since I got this new medication.


Haag begins molding a clay doll of Balder, that they can use to magically control the real thing. (Even an inanimate clay doll of Balder is more interesting than the real Balder.)

THOR #167
Writer/Editor: Stan Lee; Penciler: Jack Kirby; Inked By: Vince Colletta; Lettering: Artie Simek

A visiting Loki suggests that Karnilla forget about her pursuit of Balder, and get with him instead. She’s not interested, and vows to either claim Balder as her own, or kill him.


When Haag presents the finished clay doll, Loki snatches it away. Loki figures that if he can use the doll to injure Balder, Thor will abandon Odin’s important mission (which is later revealed to be a confrontation with Galactus) and return to Midgard, where Loki will then seize Thor’s hammer, and his power.


THOR #170
Writer/Editor: Stan Lee; Penciler: Jack Kirby; Inked By: Bill Everett; Lettering: Artie Simek

Balder and the Warriors Three are wounded and at the mercy of the deadly Thermal Man. Not wanting to see her love slain, Karnilla uses her powers to bring them all to Nornheim, against the protests of Loki. Karnilla has taken a step back in appearance, with her features rendered very sharp and stereotypically witch-like. Not the kind of features traditionally coveted by the superficial male. I blame Everett.


Loki is none too happy about this, and storms off in anger.

THOR #172
Writer/Editor: Stan Lee; Penciler: Jack Kirby; Inked By: Bill Everett; Lettering: Artie Simek

Odin looks in on Balder, still recovering from his injuries under the watch of Karnilla in her dark realm.


THOR #175
Writer/Editor: Stan Lee; Penciler: Jack Kirby; Inked By: Bill Everett; Lettering: Artie Simek

Balder and the Warriors Three have recovered, and prepare to depart the Norns. Karnilla pretends not to care. She’s so over it (but not really).


Balder questions why Asgard and the Norns must be at odds, and Karnilla responds with "alas, 'tis so ordained." Maybe the first hint that Balder isn’t completely oblivious to the beautiful woman throwing herself at him. What an idiot. Balder is the worst.

Haag oversteps her bounds and offers her opinion on Karnilla’s love for a hated Asgardian. Karnilla responds by sending the haggard witch scurrying off. When your name is Haag, I have to believe that your future is pretty much already determined.


This would mark the end of Jack Kirby’s version of Karnilla (soon followed by the end of his run on the Thor comics altogether) so it’s as good a place to stop as any. So far, the Norn Queen’s evolved from a minor villain, used as an ally of Loki in his schemes against Thor. She mostly only appeared for a panel or two, popping up to use her vast magical powers against the heroes of Asgard. The character would evolve from there into a slightly more prominent role, gaining a name, as well as a burning obsession with Balder. The stretch of appearances covered this week focused solely on her continuing quest to seize his heart, by force or by magic, if need be. Her physical appearance and facial features would vary greatly under Kirby’s pencil, as well as her patented headdress and overall design. She rarely ever looked the same from issue to issue. I’m guessing Kirby didn’t keep a lot of reference for Karnilla on hand.

John Buscema would take over as penciler of the Thor comics, and I look forward to seeing his rendition of Karnilla as we continue. Buscema is not nearly as dynamic and engaging a storyteller as Kirby (nobody is) but it could be argued that his draftsmanship of the characters themselves was more pleasing to the eye. Beauty, as they say, is in the eye of the beholder, so let the debate between Kirby and Buscema begin.

Next week, Buscema wins!


1 comment:

logical atomist said...

Great stuff. These posts are really reminding me of why I loved that old Lee & Kirby Thor when I first found out about it and read it. It was even a better fit for their respective personalities than the FF.

Plus, you are so right about the Karnilla in #170:
"Karnilla has taken a step back in appearance, with her features rendered very sharp and stereotypically witch-like." She looks just like Klarion in drag.

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