Who in Hel is Hela?
There’s just something special about Hela. In the whole mythology-inspired corner of the Marvel universe, no other character is as lavishly designed as the queen of the underworld herself. Yes, we’d even go so far as to say that her character design is better than Loki’s, who is arguably the lord of thunder’s arch-nemesis, or even Thor himself. With Hela we are able to see Kirby at his finest when it comes to fusing the grandiose, otherworldliness of fantasy with the sleekness of science fiction. As a result, Hela is a perfect combination of the themes that make Kirby the definitive artist of the Marvel Age: she is a character that is both supernatural and cosmic, in that when you look at her, you immediately know she’s a big deal. As a result, looking at Hela means looking at this looming figure that possesses an undeniable quality that, simply put, is probably what humans think of gods on very fundamental level. And that says a lot about how Jack Kirby is able to channel being human and put it on page.
As powerful and imposing as she is, we honestly think Hela has not been getting what is due her for a long time now. Yes, it is understandable that it is rather difficult to tell stories about a character that is the literal monarch of the Nordic underworld: she’s just the kind of character that is too powerful for almost any other character within the Marvel universe. But, come on, we’re dealing with fellow gods here; surely, there’s a way that they can give Hela more exposure. To be completely fair, though, we think it’s just a matter of time before the comics put her in the forefront, what with the third Thor movie, Thor: Ragnarok, coming out later this year. And as is Marvel tradition, or any good company at all, you got to generate some buzz to sell more.
So, who or what exactly is Hela? Let’s start with the character’s first appearance, shall we? As with most of the characters in Marvel’s Thor line, Hela is Earth-616’s adaptation of the mythological goddess of the underworld. Except, you know, this time her back story, powers, and stories follow Marvel rules (that whole gods aren’t really gods, they’re inter-dimensional beings deal). She first appeared on the pages of Journey Into Mystery #102, which was published in 1964 and created by Kirby and Lee.
In the comics, she’s actually Loki’s kid from a previous incarnation of Valhalla. We say “previous” because the mythic city and its whole host of gods exists in a cycle of death and rebirth, hence Ragnarok. Now, we can’t really say that Hela belongs to a single role in the Marvel universe: she is very malleable that way in a sense that she’s a constant presence in that whole section of the Marvel U despite not getting a lot of major appearances. What got us wondering is how the Thor: Ragnarok is planning on portraying Hela. Will she be just a plot device or will she play a larger role? We just hope it’s the latter.