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BALDER

Real Name: Balder (also spelled Baldr)

Occupation: Ruler of Asgard, God of light and prophecy

Identity: The general populace of Earth is unaware of the existence of Balder except as a figure in mythology.

Legal Status: Citizen of Asgard

Other Aliases: Balder the Brave, Baldur, Baaldur,

Place of Birth: Asgard

Marital Status: Widowed

Known Relatives: Odin (father), Frigga (mother), Hoder, Hermod (brothers), Thor, Bragi, Tyr, Vidar, Heimdall (half-brothers), Vali (half-brother, deceased), Loki (foster brother), Nanna (wife, deceased), Forseti (son, deceased), Bor (paternal grandfather, deceased), Fygorgyn (maternal grandfather), Bestla (paternal grandmother), Jord (maternal grandmother),

Group Affiliation: Gods of Asgard, ally of Thor and the Warriors Three

Base of Operations: Briedablik (Hall of Balder) in Asgard

First Appearance: Journey into Mystery I #85

History: Balder is the son of Odin, Ruler of the Asgardian Gods, and Frigga, goddess of marriage and Queen of Asgard. Due to his many heroic deeds over the ages, Balder became the noblest and most beloved god of Asgard and its greatest warrior next to the thunder god Thor, who has been Balder's closest friend since childhood. Balder has been unsuccessfully sought as a lover by the sorceress, Karnilla the Norn Queen.

Unlike the Gods of Olympus or Avalon, the Gods of Asgard became subject to several incarnations of Ragnarok, The Twilight of the Gods, and Balderís fate invariably became key to these cycles. In his youth, he had fearful dreams that seemed to foretell his death. None of the gods could explain these dreams and Odin called up called up the shade of the seer Vala to interpret them. Because of prophecies that Balder's death would help trigger the coming of Ragnarok, the destruction of Asgard and its inhabitants, Odin, ruler of Asgard, commanded his wife Frigga to make Balder invulnerable to harm. Frigga cast spells that would protect Balder from harm by any living or inanimate thing while he was in the Asgardian dimension. (The legends describe her as extracting promises from all of these things not to harm Balder, as if they were all sentient and capable of speech.) The sole exception was mistletoe. This omission is probably not due to forgetfulness on Frigga's part, since she has made him invulnerable to harm from mistletoe since his vulnerability to it became known. It is more likely that his vulnerability to mistletoe is a necessary side effect of the spells making him invulnerable to harm from other things. 

Loki, the god of mischief, learned of the prophecies tying Balder's death to the coming of Ragnarok, and also learned of Balder's vulnerability to mistletoe. Seeking to bring about Ragnarok, Loki tricked the blind god Hoder into firing an arrow tipped with mistletoe wood at Balder, fatally killing him as a result. Nanna, Balderís loving wife, fell grief-stricken and the gods placed her tenderly on the pyre next to her husband and set it aflame. Frigga meanwhile sent Hermod to visit Hela in Niffleheim to beg her to release Balder to the world of the living. She refused to allow him to return unless the whole world rained tears to represent his absence. Hermod spent some time with Balder and Nanna and they gave him many gifts to take back to Asgard. Hermod returned to Asgard with the gifts to prove he had seen Balder and revealed Helaís edict. Odin sent messengers at once to every corner of the earth with the message and all of Asgard was grieving for Balder except for the giantess Thokk who remained dry-eyed and hard of heart. It is believed that Thokk was actually Loki in disguise. 

Nevertheless, Hela looked out upon the sadness in the world, noticed Thokk and refused to release Balder from the underworld. Odinís youngest son, Vali, then slew Hoder to avenge Balder, and Odin himself exiled Loki for the role he played in Balderís death. Loki meanwhile returned leading the forces of darkness to destroy Asgard at Vigrith, the plane of battle, for Ragnarok. Fenris Wolf consumed Odin as had been prophesied and Jormungand killed Thor and then died as a result of his own injuries. Loki and Heimdall slew each other in battle and Frey met the fire-god Surtur and was slain by him. Vidar, Odinís bravest son, fought to the end ripping a jaw from Fenris to combat the forces of evil and lived to survive the battle. Balder meanwhile succeeded in escaping the underworld, leading Hoder to rebuild Asgard. Before his death, however, Odin had created certain spells to help them restore Asgard. Odinís brothers, Hoenir and Lodur, who had also survived Ragnarok used his spear to restore him to life. Odin then used his powers to restore the gods to life that had fallen. (According to one depiction, the brothers merged to become the new Odin.) 

In another depiction of these events, the Olympian hero, Hercules, in his travels north witnessed these events after experiencing Balderís dreams for himself. He realized that Loki was actually using spells from the Norns to actually write his future. Hercules used the same spells to rewrite the damage, which Loki had wrought and Balder was restored to life. It is unsure how much of this or the earlier history is accurate. Balder was one of the few gods who recalled Ragnarok and restored to life in this restored Asgard, but his son Forseti was one of a few who inexplicably were not restored to life while others such as Thor and Loki were presumably reborn again with no memories of their prior existences. Loki had no memories of his previous existence, but he subsequently learned later on that Hela was his daughter from his previous incarnation. As an adult, he once again tried to set into motion the sequences leading into Ragnarok. Balder was once more fatally wounded, but Odin's power prevented him from actually dying and instead kept him in a state resembling suspended animation. Nevertheless, Balder's spirit journeyed to Hel, one of the Asgardian realms of the dead.

Odin finally restored Balder fully to life, but Balder's hair turned white as a result of his experiences in Hel. His beloved, Nanna, sacrificed her life to save him from entrapment in marriage by Karnilla, who had long sought Balder as a lover, and Balder was so distraught that he has resolved never to speak of this incident or of her again. Anguished by Nanna's death, Balder forswore the life of a warrior, attempted unsuccessfully to forget his misery through eating, gaining considerable weight in the process, and finally rode out into the desert, hoping to die there. Instead, Balder encountered the Norns, the three goddesses who oversaw the working of destiny. The Norns gave Balder a vision that restored his faith in the value of life and in the need for him to continue living. Balder rode back to Asgard and was sent by Odin to Karnilla to seek her aid in the Asgardians' battle against Surtur and the legions of Muspelheim. Balder was successful in the mission, and his relationship appears to have changed in the process. Balder has, also returned to his normal weight through vigorous exercise.

Balderís brother, Thor, meanwhile, had began spending much of his life on Earth defending and protecting mortals. He had become a founding member of the Avengers and a companion of Hercules and was even exiled from Asgard as a result of neglecting his godly responsibilities. On Earth, Balder joined Thor on Earth in few adventures, once rallying with him to protect the Nordic home of the Icemaiden from Circe seeking to distract the Asgardians from her conquest of Olympus. Balder eventually became ruler of Asgard in Odinís absence following war with Surtur in Thorís stead, and defended Asgard as the Egyptian death god Seth tried to conquer Asgard. Odin, however, turned up alive as a prisoner of Seth. Sethís forces were re-routed and defeated as Odin resumed his role as Ruler of the Asgardian gods and Thor was welcomed back to Asgard. Thor was eventually lost in another dimension as Odin concealed Balder and the Asgardian gods in mortal roles to protect them from Seth once more trying to destroy the Asgardians. Balder was cast into the mortal identity of Professor Barry Landers of State University and Seth sent agents to hunt down and slay the concealed Asgardians. Odin had intended for Thor to be able to restore the scattered Asgardians, but with Odin himself now bereft of his power as a mortal and Thor trapped in another timeline, Balder and a few Asgardians teamed with former news cameraman Red Norvall to defeat Seth and regain their true identities. The experience left them greatly weakened for an attack from the Dark Gods, a race of immortals not connected to Earth. Balder was imprisoned with Asgard at the mercy of the Dark Gods, but Thor returned and teamed with Hercules and the Destroyer to defeat the Dark Gods, rescue Balder and Odin and restore Asgard to its full grandeur.

Odin was eventually killed in a renewed battle with Surtur, and Thor finally had to accept his legacy as leader of the Asgardians. However, he remained deeply connected to Earth and in a sequence of events to follow, he briefly moved Asgard into the Earthly dimension to protect it. once more to mortals to better protect it. Balder disapproved of Thorís decisions to take over the Earth and remake it into a New Asgard. Thor believed what he was doing was for the good of mortals. In one alternate future, Balder lead the last remaining heroes of Earth in an attempt to depose Thor and was killed as a result. Years afterward, the Thor of that future realized his error and the folly of his decision and and traveled back in time to prevent the destruction of Manhattan and prevent Balder's death. Balder remained alive in the altered timeline and Thor removed Asgard from Earth although there is sufficient belief to suggest that the New Asgard timeline might still exist in some other timeline.

As a side result of these events, Loki set the motions for a revised Ragnarok to occur. Thor realized that the mysterious Those Who Sit Above In Shadow were responsible for keeping Asgard in its repeating cycle of death and rebirth and gave his life to destroy them as yet another Twilight of the Gods claimed the Nine Worlds. Trying to defend Asgard from Loki's armies, Balder and the Asgardians lost their lives in battle as Ragnarok claimed Asgard.

Despite Asgard's destruction, Balder was soon restored to life shortly thereafter through the Odin-Force with the rest of the Asgardians. Thor meanwhile had Asgard rebuilt in the desert near Broxton, Oklahoma, but Balder and the Asgardians instead briefly stayed as guests of Latveria under Doctor Doom. Balder eventually regained what memories he had lost during the recent Ragnarok of himself being the son of Odin and brother of Thor, making him worthy of replace Thor on the throne of Asgard after Thor had killed Bor, the father of Odin. Thor was exiled for the murder, but since discovering evidence of Loki's duplicity in the murder, Balder revoked Thor's banishment in time to defend Asgard from the armies of Norman Osborn and the Dark Avengers.

Height: 6í 4"
Weight: 320 lbs.
Eyes: Blue
Hair: White, formerly Blonde (sometimes depicted as Brown)

Strength Level: Balder possesses superhuman strength and can lift (press) around 35 tons under optimal conditions. (The average Asgardian male can lift about 30 tons.)

Known Superhuman Powers: Balder possesses the conventional superhuman physical attributes of the Olympian Gods. Like all Asgardians, Balder is extremely long-lived (through not immortal like the Olympians), superhumanly strong, and immune to all diseases. He is immune to all known terrestrial diseases and is invulnerable to conventional injury. If wounded, his godly life force would enable him to recover with superhuman speed. It would take an injury of such magnitude that it dispersed a major portion of his bodily molecules to cause him a physical death. Even then, it might be possible for Odin or a number of gods of equal power working together to revive him. Balder does have some superhuman strength and his own Olympian metabolism gives him far greater than human endurance in all physical activities. (Asgardian flesh and bone is about three times as dense as similar human tissue, contributing to the superhuman strength and weight of the Asgardian gods.)

Balder has greater than normal strength, speed , stamina, reflexes and endurance than the average Asgardian god, with the obvious exception of gods like Odin, Thor and Tyr. His Asgardian metabolism gives him superhuman endurance in all physical activities.

Because of spells placed on him by Frigga, queen of Asgard, Balder cannot suffer injury by any living or non-living thing while he is in the Asgardian dimension. Any projectile hurled at Balder that is capable of killing or injuring an Asgardian will be magically deflected from its path before it can strike him. However, Balder can be injured or killed by weapons made of mistletoe wood. Presumably he can also be harmed by the power of Odin, and possibly by spells and magical energies used by others. Balder could also die in the Asgardian dimension through means that do not involve weaponry: for example, he could starve to death or be asphyxiated. Moreover, Frigga's spells do not protect Balder when he is in the Earth dimension. It is not known whether Balder also becomes vulnerable when he is in dimensions other than those of Asgard and Earth.

Balder also has certain undefined abilities mystical in nature that enable him to generate blinding light and to move across dimensional barriers, such as from Asgard to Earth. Backed by the Odin-Power, he is on par with powerful deities such as Zeus, Ammon-Ra and Manabozho and he can perceive events beyond his natural godly senses, augment objects with mystical potential and tap into infinite cosmic energies inherent in the universe.

Abilities: Balder is a brilliant warrior, greatly skilled in hand-to-hand combat, swordsmanship, and horsemanship. He is also soft-spoken, charismatic and a capable leader in times of Odinís absence.

Comments: This bio describes Balder as he has appeared in the Marvel Universe, DC Universe (War of the Gods #2) and the Legendary Journeys.

Balder was played by actor Rupert Cox in "Hercules: The Legendary Journeys" (Episode: "North By Norsewest") and by Adam Crossdel on "Supernatural" (Episode: "Hammer of the Gods").

Karnilla the Norn Queen is not a mythological character; she is a character from Marvel Comics.

Last updated: 08/04/2013

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