The Asgardian thunder god Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir, has a rather unusual set of abilities. By a determination of magic by his father Odin, only someone worthy can pick it up, not necessarily Thor himself. Back in the days when Thor could transform into the human Doctor Donald Blake and thanks his birth that the writer Stan Lee didn’t called him Bob Blake or some other name that rhymed, this did make me wonder about his gnarled stick. After all, it was still his hammer, albeit disguised, and shared none of its powers so anyone could pick it up without being worthy. Blake would have had to have transformed back into Thor to acquire its power. Could anyone else do the same thing? Was Thor’s essence in Donald Blake or in the stick-cum-hammer?
Does that also imply that anyone knowing what the stick was could simply have stolen it and deprived Blake not only of his hammer but the only means to transform into Thor? If Loki, the Enchantress, Executioner or any nefarious Asgardian knowing this back then were really smart then they could have beaten the thunder god in a trice. As witnessed by Thor’s first encounter with the Grey Gargoyle in Journey Into Mystery # 107, it was only his transformation back into Blake and a rearrangement of his atomic structure that spared him from being petrified for an hour. This also highlighted an interesting point to me when young that although the Asgardians took the name of gods and Viking attire and customs, in many respects they were an inter-dimensional species who had a direct link to Earth and its people.
As this article is actually supposed to be focusing on this mystical hammer also called Mjolnir, let’s examine some of its other properties. When thrown, it will always return to its master. Although this speed is never actually determined, it does raise another point about its limitation as deprived of his hammer for a minute, Thor would transform back into Blake. It is good, therefore, that he never had to throw it too far to suffer his father’s enchantment. Mind you, if he did, could Blake grab the returning hammer without pulling his arm off and/or transform back into Thor without hammering it on the floor? There is also a secondary problem in that as his hammer returns, what happens to any obstacle or person in its path? You can imagine New York having hammer-shaped holes in its various buildings if Thor had moved from his original throwing point as it sought where he was. There is also the possibility that Mjolnir would transform back into a stick on the way back and without its enchantment, fall to Earth and be lost forever.
Using Mjolnir as a means of flight transport, one also has to wonder that although he is in effect riding on his own throw, shouldn’t the hammer want to return to the point from where it was thrown from rather than its master? After all, that is part of its enchantment. That would really mess up the 60 second limitation. The return to its master probably supersedes this although one has to wonder what happens if Thor drops it in mid-flight if attacked. Does the hammer continue on its path, locate its master or return to the original throwing point? Is Mjolnir intelligent enough to make that kind of choice? As I’m only familiar with the Thor incarnation up to the early 90s, I have no idea what happened after that but I doubt if this has ever been explored.
Hitting Mjolnir on the ground causes several effects. A single stamp originally transforms Thor back into Blake. Whether this is by the handle or head is debatable but bearing in mind how strong the thunder god is, you could spot where it happens by the impact on the ground. One has to wonder at the beating his surgery floor must have taken when he transformed there. Taking that aside, hammering twice on the ground allows Thor to manipulate the weather, OK, so how long between strikes does it take for anything to happen? Imagine the scenario. In battle, Thor strikes his hammer on the ground, he transforms into Blake and the second strike transfers back and creates a thunderstorm. As that doesn’t happen, one has to wonder what creates the trigger? Certainly not the thunder god himself as he has no control over the enchantment.
In many respects, a lot of the abilities attributed to Mjolnir signifies it to be an energy manipulating device than a mythological weapon. Indeed, it raises Clarke’s Law in a big way. Just because something appears to be magic doesn’t mean it isn’t just advanced science and the Asgardians and, indeed, probably all the Marvel pantheons should be regarded as inter-dimensional aliens that the likes of Doctor Stephen Strange encounters on his travels, like the Faltine, Vishanti, Elder Gods and other beings and races. Interestingly, Strange can call all these beings for their energy and yet the main ‘god’ pantheons seem insular in comparison and offer nothing.
Probably the biggest common denominator is that they are energy beings with physical manifestation which might account for some pantheons long life or immortality. Why so many centralise on Earth has never been stated although it has been considered a nexus point into what we deem our physical reality. Quite why certain pantheons have fallen in love with certain periods of time and then left is never going to be known. Certainly, these beings thrived on the love that was given by prayer to them before moving on, although there is little to suggest that they give anything back. None of them seem that bothered that stopped or even wanting to come back to Earth. It’s only in recent times that they returned to Midgard with Odin seeing it as a suitable place to dump his wayward son. Quite why he never gave a similar punishment to his step-son, Loki, who has done far worse than Thor only you can speculate.
That’s material for another time, the material we want to look at this time relates to Mjolnir. It is known to be essentially a metal called uru that was moulded by the dwarves on behalf of Odin who then endowed it with the various enchantments that responded to his son’s commands. One can only imagine that the uru metal itself, we’ll forget what the strapping is made of, attracts lightning or ionized energy to Earth and reflects it where needed. Presumably, Thor is suitably grounded or he’d be in serious trouble if Mjolnir didn’t literally absorb all ionizing radiation. Then again, if he was really an energy being originally then probably not. The enchantments could, for all intents and purposes, could just be a matter of programming. How? Who knows? It’s advanced science so it looks like magic but is probably akin to memory plastic only far more advanced coding.
The fact that the all-father Odin couldn’t manufacture the hammer or indeed other Asgardian products does suggest that even he has his limitations. If all the Asgardians are truly energy beings then creating something physical might just have some level of limitation. Maybe Odin’s limit was creating the Asgard realm and might explain his ‘Odinsleep’ to restore his energy. This does have some bearing on all these beings. If anything, the biggest query is why they all aren’t equal which does tend suggest that there is something higher. Where the Marvel Universe is concerned should I just say: Eternity!
As he isn’t available for comment or interview and Thor doesn’t necessarily have to transform into Donald Blake anymore, much of this article has become academic. If that ever changes again and with the Marvel Universe continually on the re-set button these days, let’s hope someone gives some thought to how many times Thor has to thump his hammer on the ground to do anything.
© GF Willmetts 2013
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