With the Thor movie out now (I hope to get a chance to see it in the theaters…), I am reminded of my own brief comic book craze, principally in the early to mid 1980s. My brother & I probably spent 90% of our paper route money on comics, and the comic book store in town had a huge collection of back issues. Although this was right around the time people started thinking comic books would all be collector’s items, the local shop had lots of back issues in fair condition that you could buy reasonably cheaply ($.50-1.50 mostly). Around that time the “Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe” was coming out in a comic book format, which was like a Monster Manual of heroes and villains. In there we discovered a lot of Marvel characters, and sought them out in the listing of appearances that accompanied each entry. (I don’t think we ever got the whole set of handbooks although I know that since then they’ve been reissued and rewritten many times.)

Anyway one of my favorite characters was Thor, largely because I’d already become a Norse mythology nerd via the D’Aulaires books on viking mythology and trolls. I was delighted to discover that the comic book Thor also fought trolls, and that the trolls had a champion just as strong and tough as Thor himself — Ulik.

His brass knuckles are made out the same stuff as Mjonlir! But he doesn’t always have them.

I was able to collect all of his appearances (I think including a few outside of the Thor comics — maybe the Avengers?) Ulik was always trying to invade “Midgard” with an army of trolls, and always getting foiled, but he never gave up or doubted his own abilities, despite the sound defeats he always had. In fact, once he was able to defeat Thor and take his hammer, but of course Thor ultimately triumphed.

Here’s Ulik’s first appearance:

Somehow the small collection of comic books my brother & I amassed has disappeared. I don’t think it was worth all that much, although I did manage to collect a pretty decent run of the X-men and Thor, and he had all the Secret Wars, many Avengers and Hercules comics, and the first years of Alpha Flight, among others.  We both fell for the 4-issue “limited series” thing a lot and also bought up a goodly number of first and/or final issues of various comics because we thought they’d be worth something some day (Doctor Who issues 1-4, various Dark Horse and other indie comics, etc.). Oh well.

Long after I’d stopped buying and reading comic books, I saw Thor issue #414, where Ulik appears to be killed by fall from a high building. WTF!?! He can take repeated hits from Mjolnir and a fall kills him?!?

But this just a comic book death, and he later would reappear, having only been KO’d by the fall. Wikipedia mentions that, even later, “during the World War Hulks storyline, Ulik resurfaces and is shown to have gone on a multi-state drinking binge.” Awesome.

So I guess Ulik is a permanent fixture in the Marvel Universe, and although he dies in Ragnarok like all the Asgardians, he also “reforms” after each cataclysm, just like the gods.

Published in: on May 10, 2011 at 9:06 am  Comments (2)  
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  1. Always loved Ulik. Ulik existing and being awesome was one of the first things I knew about Thor’s rogues gallery. Although my take on him has been forever altered thanks to Kurt Busiek pointing out that “Ulik the Troll” sounds like an Asgardian kids game.

    “I tripleth yon dare of dogs!”

  2. I did a little searching on Trolls in Marvel, I might be wrong but I think there is overlap with Trolls and dwarves. Come to think of it I don’t think their are dwarves in marvel. Under one of the Ulik threads it said that the trolls forged many weapons for Odin.

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