Feb 22, 2016

Karnilla: The Final Chapter

Karnilla The Norn Queen: An Irrational Love Story
Part 12 – The Final Chapter
Ben Smith

Three months is a long time, even when it comes to sharing your irrational love for a fictional character. I’ve chronicled nearly every single appearance (more on this later) of minor Thor supporting character, and sometimes villain, Karnilla the Norn Queen. The journey has been enlightening and enjoyable, filled with the highs of Walt Simonson, and the lows of random pointless cameos. Now, we’ve come to the end of that journey, almost.

There’s nothing left but the crying.

Writer: Peter Milligan; Artist: Cary Nord; Color Artist: Christina Strain; Editor: Warren Simons

There have been some brutal murders around Asgard, and all signs point to Thor. Faced with the overwhelming evidence, Odin sends Balder to arrest Thor for trial.

Thor does not go easily. Karnilla is there to determine if there any spells that might be controlling Thor, but there are none she can detect.

This was a nice little one-off tale. My heart is still broken over U-Go Girl, Milligan.

Writer: Matt Fraction; Artist: Pasqual Ferry; Color Art: Frank D’Armata; Editors: Ralph Macchio, Lauren Sankovitch

(Following the events of the godawful event Fear Itself, Thor died defeating the Serpent. Odin took the body of the Serpent to Asgardian space and sealed it behind him, leaving all Asgardians stranded. Now, a new place named Asgardia is under construction, and ruled by the All-Mother Freyja, Gaea, and Idunn.)

With Odin gone, and Thor dead and forgotten (through a sequence of events not worth covering) the under-realms gather against Agardia, led by King Geirrodur of the trolls, and Karnilla.

Karnilla has also been undermining Asgardia in the guise of the Old Crone of the Weird Sisters, while Ulik the troll has taken the place of Thor in the memories of Asgardians as the hero Tanarus.

(I remember liking Fraction’s Thor for the most part, but Fear Itself was terrible. Thor dying didn’t even have any impact because, spoiler alert, he comes back before the end of this story arc. I love Pasqual Ferry’s art, and I wish he would do more monthly work. Read his adaptation of Ender’s Game. Hell, read Ender’s Game. While you’re at it, read Ready Player One and Armada. Real books, people!)

Writer: Matt Fraction; Artists: Pasqual Ferry and Pepe Larraz; Editor: Lauren Sankovitch

Geirrodur and Karnilla send some Frost Giants to assassinate the All-Mother, but they are defeated easily by the Avengers.

Their defeat was expected, but Karnilla wishes to seed even more dissent in Asgardia.

Fellow Weird Sister, the zombie Kelda, nearly catches Karnilla plotting with her evil allies while disguised as the Old Crone, but she is able to talk her way out of it.

I believe Kelda was killed, I think by Dr. Doom. So either she’s some kind of undead zombie, or she wasn’t fully dead. I know he was dissecting Asgardians, so maybe they sewed her back together and she got better. Regardless, I don’t care enough to look it up, but that Dr. Doom arc was fun.

Writer: Matt Fraction; Artist: Pepe Larraz; Color Art: Frank D’Armata; Editor: Lauren Sankovitch

Heimdall questions Tanarus why he can’t see him, and the two fight, with Heimdall getting severely injured in the process. Now that Heimdall’s out of the equation, Geirrodur and Karnilla celebrate the furthering of their plans. But, Kelda once again hears her talking to them in her disguise as the Old Crone, and bragging about how she manipulated the other Weird Sisters.

Writer: Matt Fraction; Artists: Pasqual Ferry with Pepe Larraz; Editor: Lauren Sankovitch

Kelda confronts Karnilla, still disguised as the Old Crone, about what she overheard. Karnilla proceeds to brutally slaughter Kelda and the other Weird Sister, and with her cover blown, she commands the Troll Legion to launch their attack. The Silver Surfer (who had been hanging around since fighting with Thor in the first storyarc of this series) and Loki catch Karnilla/the Old Crone in the act.

(Karnilla is much more brutal than she’s even been depicted before in this scene. I like it.)

With her deception fully discovered, Karnilla’s disguise is no longer necessary.

(I like when Karnilla decides to help Asgard, but I think I like it when she goes full villain just a little bit more. Honestly, I like her any way, hot or cold, but there’s just something hot about her being scary and evil. In other news, I may not be normal.)

Writer: Matt Fraction; Breakdowns: Giuseppe Camuncoli; Finishes: Klaus Janson; Editor: Lauren Sankovitch

The Troll Legion have launched their attack, but Thor has since returned from his supposed death. Karnilla enters the battlefield.

And faces off against Freyja.

There is a spectacular, if short, battle royale between the two powerful ladies.

But in the end, Freyja puts her axe through Karnilla’s stomach.

And stands triumphant before her enemies.

Asgardia has won, and Freyja imprisons Geirrodur and Karnilla in a “prison they could never escape.” (Except that she clearly did, somehow, in between now and the next time she shows up.)

Incidentally, Kelda finally gets her happy ending with the mortal Bill, in the halls of Valhalla.

It’s a shame Ferry or Larraz couldn’t finish this storyline. It’s always a disappointment when a storyarc has such a consistent artistic look for all of the initial chapters, but another artist steps in for the finale. The first time I read this, I knew the art style in this issue looked familiar, but I didn’t think much of it until I wrote down the credits just now and saw it was Camuncoli. I know Camuncoli as my least favorite of the rotating Spider-Man artists since the launch of Slott’s Big Time. Not that Camuncoli is bad, I think he’s gotten a lot better, or at least grown on me, but it’s hard to compete with guys like Humberto Ramos.

THOR (Volume 4) #7
Writer: Jason Aaron; Artist: Russell Dauterman; Color Artist: Matthew Wilson; Editor: Wil Moss

A recently returned Odin was being a real punk about the mysterious woman that has taken on the mantle of Thor. Since she refuses to return Mjolnir to him, he sends the Destroyer after her. Things are not going well for Thor, when reinforcements arrive in the form of the Odinson and a legion of female heroes, and Karnilla.

Jason Aaron’s run as Thor writer has already earned the distinction of third best all time, for me. Behind Walt Simonson, and Stan and Jack. He deserves it for the God Butcher story alone, but the book has been consistently good to great ever since he took over.

THOR (Volume 4) #8
Writer: Jason Aaron; Artist: Russell Dauterman; Color Artist: Matthew Wilson; Editor: Wil Moss

This impressive collection of heroes launches their attack against the Destroyer.

Karnilla nonchalantly lets fly some magic bolts, but she’s mostly there to see the new Thor.

This might be my favorite rendition of Karnilla from her entire history. She looks absolutely fantastic here. I love it. It’s so good that I looked into buying the original, but Dauterman works digital. The whole world is against me.

Odin is forced to call off the Destroyer before it kills his wife, Freyja. With the battle ended, Thor owes a great debt to all that fought on her behalf, a debt that Karnilla may soon come collect. (Oh please, let her come collect. I need more Dauterman Karnilla.)

Hopefully Aaron has a Karnilla story in his plans. Like I said before, I’ve loved most of what he’s done as the Thor writer, including the introduction of (spoiler deleted) as the new Thor. I’ve enjoyed her a lot, and even though I know everything in superhero comics must eventually revert back to the original status quo, I hope she gets a chance to stick around. Just like Beta Ray Bill. She’s much more interesting than old horse-face anyway, no disrespect to the God, Walt Simonson.

Writer: Al Ewing; Artist: Lee Garbett; Color Artist: Antonio Fabela; Editor: Wil Moss

The destruction of the multiverse is looming, thanks to Secret Wars. King Loki, a much more evil version of the trickster god from a now defunct future, makes his final assault on the younger and kinder version of himself. All of Asgard and its allies, and even its enemies, come to fight at young Loki’s side (including Karnilla).

The villainous King Loki flees at the sight of this impressive collection of heroes, and villains.

I really enjoyed the beginning of this Loki series, but I felt like its momentum got seriously derailed by tying in to too many other storylines and events. I really liked Garbett’s work on the Stephanie Brown Batgirl, and this series made me an even bigger fan of his work. I got a chance to meet him at a convention and he was really nice too. I really hope Verity Willis sticks around in some capacity somewhere after this.

And with that, we have arrived at the end of this journey. I did it, every single appearance of Karnilla the Norn Queen from her intro in Journey Into Mystery #107 all the way back in that year of our Lord, 1964, to the modern day. It took a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, but finally my quest has ended. For those of you that have stuck with me for all 12 parts over these last 3 months, I salute you. Thank you for your support. Hopefully, I helped infect you with the same irrational love for Karnilla that I have. How could you resist? For those of you that quit on me, may the Norn Queen turn you into lizards.

However, I’m not quite done yet. See, there are some comics that I skipped along the way, either because I didn’t have them, or I just flat out missed them.

So join me next week, one more time, for Karnilla: The Lost Files.

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