Death as a Beginning.
Both Ragnarök and Final Crisis begin with the unthinkable: the death of a god. For Ragnarök, it is the death of Baldr that signifies that something is very wrong in the world and that a great change is about to take place, as LoCicero says, “[t]he tragic death of Baldr was the single event that set the wheels of the Norse Apocalypse into motion” (LoCicero 142). O’Donoghue agrees, taking not also of the narrative shift that occurs in the story:[t]he death of Baldr is recounted just as the volva moves from recollection to prophetic vision, and his killing is presented as a decisive event in the inexorable progress to Ragnarök (O’Donoghue “What“ 87). For Final Crisis it is the death of Orion in the first chapter that portends the great disasters about to happen.
The deaths of both Baldr and Orion take place at the hands of family. Baldr was killed unwittingly by his blind brother Hod. For some time, Baldr had been having dreams about his impending death. Baldr’s mother Frigg petitions all things on earth to keep Baldr from harm, all things that is save for mistletoe, which she did not see as a threat. To celebrate his invulnerability, all of the Gods attempt to hurt Baldr with anything they can find. Hod, Baldr’s brother does not take part in the festivities because he is blind. Loki, the Norse trickster god and agent of chaos chides Hod for not participating and then gives him a spear of mistletoe and guides his aim. Baldr is struck by the mistletoe and immediately falls dead. The gods then go to Hel, the goddess of the underworld and the dead and ask her to return Baldr to life. Hel says that she will do so only if everyone on earth sheds tears for Baldr. The gods send messengers all over the world and ask everyone to weep for Baldr and all do except for Loki in the guise of a giantess and so Baldr must remain dead. Ultimately, Baldr is reborn after the events of Ragnarök and he reconciles with his brother Hod and they become gods of the new world (Sturluson 65-68, 77).
Because one of the main points of Final Crisis is that time and space have become distorted and are gradually breaking apart, the death of Orion is fragmented. Orion is shown dying in chapter one, where he warns detective Turpin that Darkseid and the other evil New Gods are hiding on earth. The moment when the bullet strikes Orion is shown in chapter three and Darkseid is seen firing the bullet in chapter ten. Incidentally, because of the time distortions, when Darkseid fires the bullet he is on the verge of death from being shot earlier by Batman in chapter nine with the very same bullet. Like Baldr, Orion dies at the hand of family, in this case, his father the tyrant god Darkseid. But unlike Baldr whose brother Hod unwittingly kills him, Orion’s murder is deliberate. Orion is killed by his father, presumably because Darkseid saw his son as being the only one who could stop him. After all, when addressing the other members of the Justice League in chapter one, Superman speaks of the power wielded by the New Gods with a kind of awe, saying that they are “capable of cracking the planet in half” (Morrison Chapter 1).
Each death in its own way contributes to the destruction that follows. Although Baldr is killed by his brother, the murder is Continue reading Twilight of the New Gods
Death as a Beginning.