Dec 14, 2015

Karnilla: Where's Balder?

Karnilla, The Norn Queen: An Irrational Love Story
Part 4 – Where’s Balder?
Ben Smith


1964, a landmark year in American history.  The 24th amendment was passed.  “Meet the Beatles!” was released.  The Winter Olympics are held in Innsbruck, Austria.  But most importantly, Karnilla the Norn Queen made her debut in the pages of Journey Into Mystery #107.  The world would never be the same.  Never before, or since, has a character been so evil and yet so hot at the same time.  At least, not until the Baroness spent an entire episode of G.I. Joe in a bikini.  But I digress.

Its part four, you know the deal.

THOR #199
Scripter: Gerry Conway; Artist: John Buscema; Inker: Vince Colletta; Lettering: Sam Rosen; Editor: Stan Lee

While Hela battles Pluto (a fantastic idea, by the way) Thor leads the Asgardian heroes against Pluto’s legion of warriors.

When Balder is mortally wounded in battle, Karnilla appears to magically restore him to life. They argue a bit about Balder ignoring his pledge to serve only her, before he returns to battle.

THOR #201
Scripter: Gerry Conway; Layouts: John Buscema; Finished Art: Jim Mooney; Lettering: Artie Simek; Editor: Stan Lee

Karnilla pleads with the Vizier to help Thor prevent Pluto from stealing Odin’s sacred soul.
Hela appears before them, and in an effort to see that Odin does not fall, returns all of the power she had previously taken from him (I assume that’s what she did, like I said before, I’m really only following the Karnilla parts).


On a side note, I have a great deal of affection for Hela too.  All the women in the Thor comics are pretty great.

THOR #202
Scripter: Gerry Conway; Artist: John Buscema; Inker: Vince Colletta; Lettering: Artie Simek; Editor: Stan Lee

It seems that Odin and Karnilla have reached a mutual non-aggression pact.  Karnilla is now able to be in Asgard without incident.  Karnilla asks the Vizier to give her the current status on Balder.



The Vizier tells her that Balder is fighting alongside Thor on Midgard, against a creature known as Ego-Prime, and that they are destined to lose.

THOR #203
Scripter: Gerry Conway; Artist: John Buscema; Inker: Vince Colletta; Lettering: John Costanza; Editor: Roy Thomas

This marks the official end of Stan Lee’s tenure on the Thor books.  Even though I doubt he was doing much editing over the previous stretch of comics, it’s still a pretty significant transition point in the history of Marvel.

Karnilla bursts into Odin’s chambers, demanding to know what he has done to Balder.
Give him hell, Karnilla!

After her anger subsides, and swayed by her genuine emotion, Odin agrees to show her Balder’s current whereabouts, still in battle against Ego-Prime.

Uh oh, I’m beginning to sense a recurring theme for our favorite witch here.

THOR #204
Scripter: Gerry Conway; Artist: John Buscema; Inker: Jim Mooney; Lettering: Shelly Leferman; Editor: Roy Thomas

Based purely on how long he remained on the books, I’m guessing Stan Lee’s favorites were Thor, Fantastic Four, and Spider-Man.  Conway succeeded him as writer on Thor and Spider-Man.  Maybe Fantastic Four too, I’m not going to look it up.  Regardless, I find that interesting.

Karnilla is once again pestering Odin over the status of Balder.  Odin, rightfully, kicks everyone out of his chambers.


After a great stretch of comics last week, she’s beginning to repeat the same thing issue to issue this week.  Seeing as how she found Balder pretty easily on her own in #199, I don’t know why she needs to constantly harass everyone around her to give her an update on where he is.  Even I’m getting annoyed by her, and I adore her.

THOR #206
Scripter: Gerry Conway; Artist: John Buscema; Inker: Vince Colletta; Lettering: John Costanza; Editor: Roy Thomas

The Vizier and Karnilla continue to wonder about the Asgardian heroes exiled on Midgard. Odin has become increasingly more erratic, issuing royal edicts against even mentioning the names of Thor or the Warriors Three.



From time to time Odin gets a bug up his ass and denounces his son and his friends for some perceived slight.  Odin is a bit of an ass.

THOR #207
Scripter: Gerry Conway; Artist: John Buscema; Inker: Vince Colletta; Good Works: Marie Severin; Editor: Roy Thomas

DC Comics heroes Batman and Superman make a covert appearance as part of a Halloween parade.


Karnilla finds Sif on Midgard, and offers to help Thor defeat Loki in exchange for her help in finding Balder.  Sif declines, believing Thor is better off left to his own devices.


But when it looks like Loki might actually win, Sif changes her mind and agrees to Karnilla’s bargain.  Karnilla summons a furious thunderstorm, which tilts the odds back in Thor’s favor.


That’s my girl, taking matters into her own hands.  Sure, she’s doing so in an effort to find Balder, the world’s most formidable clown, but let’s not split hairs.  She’s doing stuff.

THOR #208
Scripter: Gerry Conway; Artist: John Buscema; Inker: Vince Colletta; Editor: Roy Thomas

Thor reflects/recaps the recent events of the series, including how Sif agreed to leave Thor’s side and assist Karnilla in her search for Balder, in exchange for helping Thor in his fight against Loki.

For those interested in the overall storyline of the book in recent issues, feel free to read this panel in full.
Or go buy the comics for yourself.


THOR #209
Scripter: Gerry Conway; Artist: John Buscema; Inker: Vince Colletta; Editor: Roy Thomas

Karnilla only appears in a recap of events from the previous issues.  Disappointing.


THOR #214
Scripter: Gerry Conway; Artist: Sal Buscema; Inker: Jim Mooney; Editor: Roy Thomas

Thor, Odin, and the Warriors Three fight against the Fourth Dimensional Man and his loyal warriors.  At the end of the issue, they are shocked to discover that Sif and Karnilla are captives, held motionless in a crimson crystal.


THOR #215
Scripter: Gerry Conway; Artist: John Buscema; Inker: Jim Mooney; Editor: Roy Thomas

Sif and Karnilla learn that the crystal they are now trapped in is alive, and was once a planet.  The God-Jewel plans to drain their life energy, so that it can be restored to its former glory.


Thor eventually is in a position to smash the crystal and free his beloved Sif, but he is too late.  They have merged with his crystalline flesh, and to kill him would kill her as well.

THOR #216
Scripter: Gerry Conway; Artist: John Buscema; Inker: Jim Mooney; Editor: Roy Thomas

Long story short, Thor and the 4-D Man find a way to successful remove Sif and Karnilla from the God-Crystal without killing them.  Mercifully, the story is over.


With that, Karnilla would not appear again for over 30 issues.  After a very promising stretch of comics last week, Karnilla fell into some annoying patterns over the course of this week’s comics.  Despite being very capable of finding Balder herself, she was stuck in Asgard, harassing anyone and everyone about where he might be.  It’s the Asgardian equivalent of waiting by the window for Spider-Man to return.  Smoking cigarettes, and making out with that blonde-headed dude.  Things started to pick up in the middle, with her taking an active role in the fight between Thor and Loki.  Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see any of her teaming up with Sif (which sounds like the greatest buddy comedy ever conceived).  Instead, they show up trapped inside a crystal in a story so dumb, it made me mad just having to skim it.  So far, the odd numbered parts to this retrospective have had the best collection of stories.  Hopefully that pattern holds and next week isn’t quite as dismal.  Only one way to find out.

Next week, yep, more Karnilla!

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