War of the Realms: The Ten Realms of the Marvel Universe
There's a war coming across every realm -- get to know about all of them before the battle begins!
This spring, the Marvel Universe will never be the same after the massive WAR OF THE REALMS event from writer Jason Aaron, artist Russell Dauterman, and colorist Matthew Wilson.
Malekith the Dark Elf is hopping from one of the Ten Realms to the next, sowing destruction wherever he lands. Finally, the repercussions of this warmongering will hit Earth – also known as Midgard – causing all kinds of terrible beasts and monsters to come sliding into our reality.
All these planes of being were created when two forces collided in the “Yawning Void” at the beginning of time. From this collision, elves, giants, angels, giants, goblins, and men were born. Eventually, someone got the bright idea to set up the Congress of Worlds, a sort of United Nations for the Ten Realms.
Before WAR OF THE REALMS #1 arrives on Wednesday, April 3, here is a crash course on all ten of the realms of the Marvel Universe.
ASGARD: Realm of the Asgardians
One of the most (if not the most) important seat of power within the universe, Asgard is the native home of the Asgardian people, a race of aliens so technologically advanced that the Norse people (i.e. Vikings) gave them the status of all-powerful gods centuries ago.
More importantly, Asgard is the native home of their legendary leaders, both good and bad: Odin (the All-Father), Thor (the god of thunder), Loki (the god of mischief), Hela (the goddess of death), and Frigga (Odin’s wife, the All-Mother). Frigga is made up of three parts: Frigga, Gaea, and Idunn.
Malekith wants to do away with these old rulers and usher in a new age of gods.
Asgard is also the origin of the Bifrost, a rainbow-like bridge that can transport anyone to any realm in the universe. The great Heimdall, whose eyes can see all across the cosmos, is the keeper of the bridge.
If rainbow bridges aren’t your thing, you may want to check out Yggdrasil, the World Tree, a botanical wonder that is filled with ancient magic tying together all the Ten Realms. If one were to gaze into the tree’s sap, they’d see all kinds of crazy visions. In fact, it’s so magical that Doctor Strange once snuck into Asgard just to get a refill on his powers. Just make sure you’re worthy before you attempt such a foolhardy thing, please.
MIDGARD: Realm of the Earthlings
As it was mentioned above, Midgard is our reality, Earth. Not so exciting, right? WRONG! For some reason, plenty of trouble is always happening upon our “puny” little dimension, which helped Thor become the hero he is today.
After displaying unbelievable arrogance, the Asgardian prince was stripped of his hammer and powers by Odin and exiled on Midgard, where he was to learn a little humility. On Earth, Thor took up the alter ego of Donald Blake. Odin later came to regret this decision, describing humans as “the most arrogant fleas to ever infect the cosmos.”
Midgard is where Thor met Jane Foster, a human woman, who would later go on to take up the mantle of the god of thunder herself. Earth was also where the Avengers were founded. Their first-ever enemy? Loki.
While Malekith finds the place “tawdry,” Midgard is not as puny as it seems at first glance.
ALFHEIM: Realm of the Elves
Alfheim is like something out of a fairy tale, complete with enchanted forests, champagne springs, mermaid lagoons, candy farms, and flourishing gardens. The entire realm’s population is made up of different kinds of elves: spice elves, ice elves, air elves, and sea elves. Together, all of these elves make up the “Light Elves” or “Bright Elves” (aka “Ljós-Alfa”), a general term for the peoples of Alfheim.
A beautiful and color-filled realm of whimsy and near-endless happiness and bliss, Alfheim was devastated by Malekith who murdered men, women, and children without discretion or remorse.
VANAHEIM: Realm of the Vanir
Home of the “Old Gods,” Vanaheim is a realm of lush forests, crumbling ruins, deep valleys, and spire-like landmasses. The people of Vanaheim, the Vanir, warred with the Aesir (who considered themselves superior) millennia ago, a conflict that was revolved when Odin married Frigga. Before a peace was reached, Frigga’s father Freyr struck a deal with Surtur that would get the demon to inspire the Vanir to rise up against the Aesir.
Vanaheim is famous for producing Frigga and Heimdall.
JOTUNHEIM: Realm of the Giants
The birthplace of Loki, Jotunheim is the land of giants. Like the elves of Alfheim, the giants also have several different varieties: Ice, Mountain, Frost, Storm, and more.
Loki’s biological father was the Frost Giant King Laufey, who was slain by Odin. (It should be noted that Laufey was not originally a Frost Giant when he first debuted in 1965, but a regular, run-of-the-mill giant warrior.) The All-Father took pity on the giant’s now-abandoned child and took him to Asgard, raising the boy as his own. The god of mischief’s penchant for treachery against his family is not unusual as the giants of Jotunheim often attempt to undermine Asgard.
Jotunheim is also the realm in which Skadi discovered the winged horse known as Aaragorn.
NIDAVELLIR (THE DARK FIELDS): The Realm of the Dwarves
Nidavellir, home of the Dwarves, is known as the greatest weapons forge in the universe. Throughout history, the great dwarven blacksmiths created iconic tools like Thor’s hammer, Mjölnir, and his axe, Stormbreaker.
Ruled by King Eitri, the realm has an eons-old treaty with Alfheim and even took in elven refugees after an attack from Malekith. Even during such a trying time, the dwarves were hard at work in the forges, preparing for an upcoming war up until Muspelheim attacked.
Thousands of years before, the warlord Ulik tried to take over when he united all the Rock Troll clans. While he didn’t care all that much for the Dwarves, Odin and his forces protected Nidavellir because the All-Father knew that its forges were of great importance to the Ten Realms.
To show their gratitude, the Dwarves gifted Odin with a fragment of Uru, an extremely rare, unbreakable, and unsmeltable metal mined from beneath the mountains of Nidavellir. Odin wasn’t impressed until he trapped a planet-destroying storm inside of it. Bringing it back to the Dwarves, he asked them to forge it. They weren’t able to melt the Uru until they hooked a star and used its great heat to melt the metal and turn it into Mjölnir.
SVARTALFHEIM (THE DARK WORLD): The Dark Faerie Realm
Home world of the Dark Elves, Svartalfheim is a place of haunted forests, black bogs, black mountains, and dark caves. In essence, it is the exact opposite of Alfheim and is ruled by Malekith the Accursed, a dreaded master of sorcery and sworn enemy of Asgard and the other realms.
While Malekith was sentenced to eternity in Nastrond Prison by Odin himself, he broke free and returned home to find that his people had “lost their way” and allied themselves with Asgard. To punish them their insolence, he murdered an entire village and threatened to kill any dark elf he found hiding among the other realms.
NIFFLEHEIM (MIST-HOME): Realm of the Dead
Niffleheim is to Norse culture what the Underworld/Hades was for Ancient Greeks. Described as the Land of the Dead or Hel, Niffleheim is Queen Hela’s domain, a frozen place where she rules over the deceased. Exerting a large amount of control over this world, Hela can shift Hel’s reality to whatever she wishes it to be: a place of trials, a bottomless pit of despair, or a royal palace. It is also separated into different sections of punishment, reward, or humdrum routine depending on how an individual lived their life.
Despite a nasty reputation, Hela can be forgiving at times and once let Thor and Sif walk away scot free after the god of thunder offered to sacrifice himself in Sif’s place.
Niffleheim is the place where the first Frost Giant, Ymir, originated. After centuries, the water flowing into the Well of Life froze into the form of Ymir, the dreaded Frost Giant! Gaining sustenance from a magical cow, Ymir witnessed the arrival of Odin’s father, Buri, and would eventually be defeated by his three sons: Odin, Ville, and Ve.
Hel may be the Norse version of Judeo-Christian Hell, but Muspelheim is what most of us think of when we think of the underworld: all fire and brimstone. A literal land of flames, this realm is the birthplace of fire itself. It is ruled by Sindr (aka the Queen of Cinders), the daughter of the late fire giant, Surtur.
Surtur gave each one of his children a test after they turned three years old. They’d be starved for 13 days and then brought into Inferno Hall before being given the choice between a large pile of food or a cauldron of flames and screaming souls. Sindr was the first in thousands of children to pick the fire.
Once she was grown, Sindr order an attack on Hel and also set Nidavellir ablaze—this was mainly done of the orders of Malekith, who eventually forgot his place in front of the fiery queen, prompting her to state that “the other realms have been quaking in fear at the mention of Muspelheim since before you dark elves ever crawled from your swamps.” The hot folks in this realm are constantly praying for Ragnarok and the chance to burn the gods into a powdery ash.
HEVEN: The Tenth Realm
In a great war millennia ago, Odin and Frigga defended Asgard from an army of beings known as Angels. Their queen murdered the Asgardian heir, Aldrif, who was just an infant. The terrible loss allowed Odin’s powers to surge forth and wipe the Angels out. With powerful anger, Odin also cut off Heven from the nine other realms, tearing it away from the World Tree and hid it so well in another dimension that it would not even be part of Asgard’s legends.
Aldrif, as it turned out, was not murdered, but saved by one of the queen’s handmaidens and raised to believe that she was an angel named Angela. When Thor and Loki learned about the existence of their long lost sister, Heven was returned to our dimension, but Angela as cast out of the Tenth Realm. To add insult to injury, she then wanted nothing to do with Asgard.
WAR OF THE REALMS #1, written by Jason Aaron with art by Russell Dauterman and colors by Matt Wilson, goes on sale everywhere Wednesday, April 3. Pre-order your copy today online or at your local comic shop!
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