Jan 4, 2016

Karnilla: Like a Boss

Karnilla The Norn Queen: An Irrational Love Story
Part 5 – Like a Boss
Ben Smith

Last time, Karnilla fell into a bit of a rut, spending all of her time wondering where Balder is. This is not a good look, because, nobody should ever be wondering where Balder is. If anything, people should be worried when Balder is around, because that means nobody can have any fun anymore. Balder, the physical manifestation of “last call.” When Poochie is not around, nobody should be wondering, where's Poochie?

Anyway, I have faith that Karnilla can bounce back.

THOR #249
Writer/Editor: Len Wein; Illustrator: John Buscema; Embellisher: Tony DeZuniga

Thor has returned to Asgard amid news that Odin has gone mad. Unfortunately, a mystic barrier prevents anyone from entering Odin’s palace.

Thor, Balder, and the Vizier travel to Nornheim, with the goal of convincing Karnilla to help them.



Karnilla is not interested in helping, and has grown cold toward Balder’s continued rejections of her. (I like it. I’d much prefer she have an edge to her, instead of the whimpering love-struck cliché she had become previously.)

Balder tries to appeal to her emotions, and gets bitch-slapped for the effort.
Yes! I might get this entire panel tattooed upon my body, so that I may enjoy it on a daily basis.
With the satisfaction of slapping Balder like the little bitch he is calming her down, the Vizier is able to convince her that helping them is in her best interests. Later, in Asgard, Karnilla tries and is unable to pierce the mystic barrier. However, with her and Thor making a combined effort, Thor, and only Thor, is able to slip through the field.


Thor finds out that it is not Odin that sits upon the throne, but Mangog in disguise. If that sentence doesn’t make you happy, you need to read more Thor comics. Just reconsider your choices in life altogether, your judgment is in question.

THOR #250
Writer/Editor: Len Wein; Illustrator: John Buscema; Embellisher: Tony DeZuniga

Thor is defeated by the now all-powerful Mangog/Odin.

Sif, Balder, the Warriors Three, and the Vizier rally the Asgardian people to join them in the battle against the imposter king.

During the conflict, Balder is changed into a dog (and a funny looking dog wearing Balder clothes at that).

Volstagg is turned into, of course, a pig

Thor eventually breaks loose and puts a beatdown on Mangog, as per usual.

(Mangog is one of those weird villains that looks too ridiculous to be cool if you’re not familiar with the Thor comics, but is always a good absurd time when he does show up.)

THOR #251
Writer/Editor: Len Wein; Illustrator: John Buscema; Embellisher: Tony DeZuniga

Thor’s quest to find the real Odin takes him to Valhalla. In Asgard, Karnilla and Balder share a quiet moment together, where he admits that he doesn’t want her to leave.

Please don’t let this be a sign of things to come.


THOR #252
Writer/Editor: Len Wein; Illustrator: John Buscema; Embellisher: Tony DeZuniga

Karnilla (along with those other chumps) stands by as the Vizier conjures a spell to locate the missing Odin.

The trail leads to an open crater, leading down into a mysterious realm below. Karnilla is there along with the other usual crowd to see Thor off, as he climbs down into the depths.

THOR #255
Writer/Editor: Len Wein; Illustrator: John Buscema; Embellisher: Tony DeZuniga

Thor returns from a mission given to him by Mimir, a trial to prove his worth and earn information on his still missing father. Balder offers to join Thor on this latest lead, but Thor and Karnilla both convince him to stay and guard the throne of Asgard.

(I think my main problem with Balder is that he’s redundant. Thor and the Warriors Three cover every aspect of his worth as a character, and they do it better. Plus, his personality is that he has no personality. It’s good that he be left behind. Give him something else to do.)

THOR #256
Writer/Editor: Len Wein; Illustrator: John Buscema; Embellisher: Tony DeZuniga

Karnilla attempts to convince Balder that if he must guard the throne, he should sit in it, not at its feet. (Karnilla is angling to become Queen of more than Nornheim, I suspect.) Suddenly, a mortally wounded warrior named Brokar comes bursting into the chamber, with dire news of a deadly enemy coming to Asgard. With his dying words, he whispers the names to Balder, and his reaction is not good.



THOR #257
Writer/Editor: Len Wein; Illustrator: John Buscema; Embellisher: Tony DeZuniga

Balder and Karnilla look out across the plain, and see a large army amassing in the distance.

THOR #258
Writer/Editor: Len Wein; Illustrator: John Buscema; Embellisher: Tony DeZuniga

Karnilla waits outside, as Balder continues to convene with the Council of War. She thinks he takes to ruling rather well, and plans to see Balder sit upon the throne himself when it’s all said and done.

A fearsome pounding on the front gates of the city brings Balder and Karnilla running. They arrive just in time to see the Enchantress and the Executioner bust through, making their long-awaited return to Asgard.



(The prospect of Karnilla fighting the Enchantress fills me with much glee. The kind of glee usually reserved for massive endorphin release.)

THOR #259
Writer/Editor: Len Wein; Illustrator: John Buscema; Embellisher: Tony DeZuniga

The Executioner gives Balder a choice. Surrender the city to them, or they shall unleash their silent army upon them and take it by force. Balder refuses to give up the throne freely.
The Executioner and Enchantress leave, while making bold promises and threats.

THOR #260
Writer/Editor: Len Wein; Illustrator: Walt Simonson; Embellisher: Tony DeZuniga

Walt Simonson makes his Thor debut! Simonson on Thor is one of those rare cases in comics, where a creator working on a certain character inspires so much anticipation and excitement. Chris Claremont with the X-Men is another, though maybe not so much anymore. Frank Miller on Batman. JMS on Spider-Man. Okay, not that last one.

Balder disguises himself, so that he can spy on the enemy and ascertain their strength.
Shockingly, he discovers that the army gathered before the city is nothing but empty armors. As he smashes them to pieces, he’s ambushed from behind.



Balder tries to fight off the Executioner and Enchantress on his own, but is failing. Karnilla arrives to even the odds. (See, Walt gets involved with the book and it instantly becomes way more interesting. This is all I’ve ever wanted from Karnilla, to actually do something. She’s far too powerful to be left on the sidelines crying over a clown like Balder.)


Then something beautiful happens, Karnilla faces off against the Enchantress. (I’ve got goosebumps. Again, leave it to Simonson to give me the fight I’ve been waiting for since I started reading Thor.)


The battle is even, until Karnilla nails her with a rock shard, ending the conflict. (Well, that was short, but all too sweet. Like how I imagine a threesome would be.) Just when they think they have won, Thor arrives to yell at them for whatever reason. I’m not really paying attention, still riding the high of Karnilla versus the Enchantress.


THOR #261
Writer/Editor: Len Wein; Illustrator: Walt Simonson; Embellisher: Ernie Chan

A mysterious robed individual (that is clearly Loki) watches over what transpires on the outskirts of Asgard. The imposter Thor tries to convince Balder and Karnilla that they were fighting mere apparitions, and that the true threat lies inside the city. Karnilla is not so easily convinced, but she keeps her suspicions quiet for now.


THOR #262
Writer/Editor: Len Wein; Illustrator: Walt Simonson; Embellisher: Tony DeZuniga

Once inside, the false Thor sucker punches Balder from behind, incurring the wrath of Karnilla. But it seems not even she might be a match for this mysterious opponent. (Is it Loki? I’m betting its Loki.)



THOR #264
Writer/Editor: Len Wein; Illustrator: Walt Simonson; Embellisher: Tony DeZuniga

It seems that, once again, Loki has used the absence of Odin and Thor to seize control of Asagard’s throne. Thor and crew travel to see Karnilla, who returned to Nornheim after Loki took over, to inquire about the whereabouts of Balder. She tells them that she tried to convince him to come with her, but he insisted on staying. Apparently, Balder is missing.



THOR #265
Writer/Editor: Len Wein; Illustrator: Walt Simonson; Embellisher: Joe Sinnott

As Thor battles the Destroyer inside the royal palace, outside Karnilla and Sif, astride giant beasts, order the gate guards to let them inside.


They refuse, so Karnilla turns them into toads for their trouble.

Once inside, they find Thor nearly felled by the Destroyer. Both attack, but Karnilla pulls back, when she makes a shocking discovery.

The spirit of Balder is what now animates the unstoppable Destroyer.

THOR #266
Writer/Editor: Len Wein; Illustrator: Walt Simonson; Embellisher: Tony DeZuniga

Karnilla, unable to fight the Destroyer for fear of harming Balder, takes the fight directly to Loki instead.


Karnilla mystically battles Loki to a standstill, until she makes a bold move and destroys his circle of oblivion. (First we get Karnilla against Enchantress, and now she’s one-on-one against Loki. It only took 5 weeks and I don’t know how many issues, but she’s finally being a badass. This is all I could ever hope for from Karnilla appearances.)



She uses the ensuing confusion to escape with Balder’s body, bringing it to the Destroyer. Before she can return his spirit, Loki catches up and attacks her from behind.



The small part of Balder that is still himself inside the Destroyer, turns upon Loki for attacking Karnilla. Loki is forced to restore Balder to save himself, but Thor touches the empty Destroyer and takes control, setting sights once again on Loki.

Before things get too out of control, Odin finally returns to Asgard, and sets everything straight.

THOR #267
Writer/Editor: Len Wein; Illustrator: Walt Simonson; Embellisher: Tony DeZuniga

With Odin having returned, Asgard begins the process of returning to normal.Balder and Karnilla say their goodbyes yet again, neither being bold enough to break the cycle of their relationship.


This is the Karnilla I’ve been waiting for. After a poor performance last week, Karnilla came out swinging this time out. (Literally, she swung her hand directly into Balder’s face.) I know that Karnilla is one of the more minor supporting characters in the Thor cast, and a borderline villain at that, so she’s not often going to get great opportunities to shine. But she got that and more this week. Her going toe-to-toe with the Enchantress or Loki is all I could have ever asked for, and she winded up facing both. I don’t know how much influence the legendary Walt Simonson had over the plot, but it seems like it would be quite the coincidence if the comics were this good and he had zero input. I love everything Walt does, or has done, but there’s something extra special about anytime he’s working on Thor. This isn’t any kind of revelation to anyone that knows comics, but sometimes certain things need to be periodically acknowledged. Walt Simonson is the greatest. Karnilla the Norn Queen is the greatest. Magic, no pun intended, is bound to happen when you combine the two.

This week was so good that I’m almost dreading what comes next. Hopefully the hits keep on coming. Join me next week and we can find out together.


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