AUDUMBLA

Real Name: Audumbla

Identity/Class: Associated with Asgardian deities and giants; suspected to be an aspect or a guise of Gaea

Occupation: Caretaker

Group Membership: Associated with Asgardian deities and giants

Affiliations: Ymir, Giants of Asgard, Buri

Enemies: None identified

Known Relatives: Suspected to be an aspect or possible a relation of Gaea

Aliases: Various alternate spellings in mythology, such as Audumla

Base of Operations: An icy realm (sometimes referred to as within Niffleheim and other times on a frozen landmass b/t Niffleheim and Muspelheim)

First Appearance: Prose Edda (1220); (Marvel appearance) Journey into Mystery#97 (October, 1963); (identified in Marvel) Mighty Thor Annual#5 (1976)

Powers/Abilities: Audumbla's abilities are not clearly defined, but she can survive for extended periods on ice alone. She can generate sufficient milk to sustain an indeterminate number of giants, even adult ones such as Ymir. She is larger and presumably stronger and more durable than a terrestrial cow. She was likely resistant to aging and conventional disease.

Height: Unrevealed (she was described as giant in at least one reference...perhaps 8' at the shoulder based on the partially emerged Buri figure, with Buri being 15')
Weight: Unrevealed (assuming 8' tall, she would be about 7450 lbs. at terrestrial cow density...perhaps bump her up to 11,000 lbs. due to her origins)
Eyes: Unrevealed (terrestrial cows generally have brown eyes)
Hair: Brown

History:
(Thor & Hercules: Encyclopaedia Mythologica: Asgardians: Bor entry / Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z Vol. 14) - Audumbla may have been the Elder Goddess / Earth Mother Gaea in one of her many guises.

(Journey into Mystery#97/2 / Mighty Thor Annual#5 / Doctor Strange: Sorcerer Supreme#35 / Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z Vol. 14 / Avengers Assemble: Ymir entry) - According to Norse legend, before the world existed, there was a massive void, the Ginnungagap, with a land of fire, Muspelheim, to the south, which teemed with rivers filled with strange poison which burned all it touched and glowed cherry red in the infinite dark; and a land of intense cold, Niffleheim, to the north, in whose center surged the primordial Well of Life, Hyergelmir, from which flowed twelve rivers of ice. Each land's rivers ran towards the other's, till they met halfway between in the cataclysmic grandeur, whereupon the northern ice covered and solidified the southern streams, so that their combined mass partially filled the abyss...for a time.

(Journey into Mystery#97/2 / Mighty Thor Annual#5 / Doctor Strange: Sorcerer Supreme#35 / Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z Vol. 14 / Avengers Assemble: Ymir entry) - The warm air blowing in from Muspelheim began to melt the all conquering ice of Niffleheim above the Well of Life, and from the half-frozen mixture which resulted stepped the first form of life, the great frost giant Ymir.

(Mighty Thor Annual#5) - When Ymir chanced to sleep, the warm winds melted him somewhat, and from his form was born the first of his many children (the giants (Etins)). See comments

(Journey into Mystery#97/2 / Mighty Thor Annual#5 / Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z Vol. 14 / Avengers Assemble: Ymir entry) - Seconds later, as the slumbering Ymir continued to melt slightly, the giant, enchanted, primeval cow Audumbla rose from the ice. Ymir subsisted on Audumbla’s milk, while she gained nourishment from the endless ice. For ages, Ymir and Audumbla roamed the frozen wastes alone. Audumbla served as the giants' wet-nurse. From that day forward, all giants quenched their thirst on the four streams of milk that they sucked from her udders, while Audumbla herself was content to find sustenance in licking the endless ice.

(Journey into Mystery#97/2 / Mighty Thor Annual#5 / Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z Vol. 14 / Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z Update#2: Tiwaz entry / Avengers Assemble: Ymir entry) - Over time, Audumbla wore down the salty ice in Niffleheim to find a male figure within it.  She licked at the ice block to free him. On the first day, her licking uncovered the figure’s hair, on the second day his head and on the third day Buri, first of the gods, was freed from the ice.

Comments: Believed to be part of Norse mythology, first recorded in written history by Snorri Sturluson;
    adapted by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and George Roussos.

    The word Ginnungagap was first used in the Marvel Universe to define the Yawning Void in Dr. Strange: Sorcerer Supreme #35. The exact details on the location of the Well of Life, and of where Ymir and Audumbla vary a bit between sources. Here's what I compiled (see below; the Ymir entry in Avengers Assemble tried to combine the information into one coherent whole).
    Notably:

  1. Sources seem to vary on whether the Well of Life was beneath both Niffleheim and Muspelheim or just beneath Niffleheim (or between the two realms)
  2. It's hard to tell whether Ymir (and thus Audumbla) originated in Niffleheim or on the mass of ice that formed b/t Niffleheim and Muspelheim.
  3. Some sources note Audumbla as appearing seconds after Ymir and the two wandering the wastes alone for a period of time, while Mighty Thor Annual#5, at least, made it clear Ymir's first children showed up before Audumbla. Perhaps seconds was a relative term, like the Earth being created in 6 days...
  4. It also seems inconsistent whether Audumbla arose from Ymir's melted ice or whether she just showed up after he did.
  5. Most unique is this reference: (Doctor Strange: Sorcerer Supreme#35 (fb) - BTS) - From Ymir was born Buri.
    Whether this means that the ice she licked had come from Ymir, or what it is supposed to mean, I'm not sure.

    Additionally...whatever happened to Audumbla? Does she still live in Jotunheim or somewhere, nourishing the young giants? Or did someone devour her?

(Journey into Mystery#97/2) - Beneath the land of fire in the south and the land of mist in the north was the magical Well of Life, from which all rivers flowed -- rivers that were turned into huge blocks of ice by the cruel northern wind.
(Mighty Thor Annual#5) - Once there was nothing, only the endless abyss; but, in time, two worlds arose: To the North was Niffleheim, a world of clouds and shadows in whose center surged the fountain Hyergelmir, from which flowed twelve rivers of ice; on the other side of the gulf, to the South, lay the land of fire, Muspelheim, it, too, teemed with rivers, but these were filled with strange poison which burned all it touched and glowed cherry red in the infinite dark. Each land's rivers ran towards the other's, till they met halfway between in the cataclysmic grandeur, whereupon the northern ice covered and solidified the southern streams, so that their combined mass partially filled the abyss...for a time.
(Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Deluxe Edition#15: Ymir entry) - It is said that millennia ago warm air from fiery realm Muspelheim crossed a dimensional barrier into the location of the magical Well of Life. Tons of ice from Niffleheim formed above the Well of Life.
(Doctor Strange: Sorcerer Supreme#35) - Warm winds to north from <Muspelheim> did blow and mighty glaciers did enwrap, caused melted ice from <Niffleheim> to flow, and fill the yawning Ginnungagap (see comments).
(Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z Vol. 14 / Avengers Assemble: Ymir entry) - According to Norse legend, before the world existed, there was a massive void, the Ginnungagap, with a land of fire, Muspelheim, to the south and a land of intense cold, Niffleheim, to the north.
(Thor: Asgard's Avenger: Asgard entry) - In the distant past, two worlds came into being on opposite sides of the Sea of Space: Muspelheim, the land of fire, and Niffleheim, the land of ice, separated from each other by Ginnungagap, the Yawning Void.

(Journey into Mystery#97/2) - Finally, after countless centuries, the tons of ice forming above the Well of Life changed their shape, turning into Ymir, greatest of the Frost Giants.
(Mighty Thor Annual#5) - Before long, the warm air blowing in from the south began to melt the all conquering ice, and from the half-frozen mixture which resulted stepped the first form of life, the frost giant Ymir.
(Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Deluxe Edition#15: Ymir entry) - In time, the warm air from Muspelheim caused the ice over the Well of Life to transform into the Frost Giant Ymir.
(Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z Vol. 14) - Beneath the realms of Muspelheim and Niffleheim lay the magical Well of Life,
Hyergelmir, from which flowed great rivers; when Muspelheim's heat met the ice of Niffleheim's frigid air above Hyergelmir, Ymir was born.
(Avengers Assemble: Ymir entry) -
Ymir, first of the Frost Giants, was allegedly born when the heat of Muspelheim met the ice of Niffleheim above the primordial Well of Life, Hyergelmir.
(Thor: Asgard's Avenger: Asgard entry) - Eventually, the warm air from Muspelheim affected Niffleheim, generating Ymir the frost giant.

(Mighty Thor Annual#5) - When Ymir chanced to sleep, the warm winds melted him somewhat, and from his form was born the first of his many children (the giants (Etins).
(Thor: Asgard's Avenger: Asgard entry) - Ymir fathered the race of giants.

(Journey into Mystery#97/2) - Seconds later, another form of life arose, a gigantic magic cow, whose milk provided nourishment for Ymir. For ages, Ymir and the cow roamed the frozen wastes.
(Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z Vol. 14) - Second later, the enchanted cow Audumbla
(Mighty Thor Annual#5) - As the slumbering Ymir continued to melt slightly, a cow was conceived: This was Audumbla, who served as the giants' wet-nurse. From that day forward, all giants quenched their thirst on the four streams of milk that they sucked from her udders, while Audumbla herself was content to find sustenance in licking the endless ice.
(Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Deluxe Edition#15: Ymir entry) - Another being appeared from the ice, the enchanted cow "Audumla," who fed on the ice itself, and Ymir subsisted on the milk Audumbla produced.
(Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z Vol. 14 / Avengers Assemble: Ymir entry) -
Seconds later, the enchanted cow Audumbla (believed by some to be an incarnation of the Elder Goddess Gaea) rose from the ice. Ymir subsisted on Audumbla’s milk, while she gained nourishment from the endless ice. For ages, Ymir and Audumbla roamed the frozen wastes alone.

(Journey into Mystery#97/2) - the cow found something stirring in the ice, and gradually, Buri, first of the gods, emerged from the ice.
(Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z Vol. 14 / Avengers Assemble: Ymir entry) -
Over time, Audumbla wore down the ice to reveal Buri, the first of the Asgardian gods.
(Mighty Thor Annual#5) - Over time, Audumbla wore down the ice, to reveal a new being called Buri, the first of the gods.
(Doctor Strange: Sorcerer Supreme#35 (fb) - BTS) - From Ymir was born Buri.
(Thor & Hercules: Encyclopaedia Mythologica: Asgardians: Bor entry) - Buri was created when the primeval cow Audumbla licked his form from a block of ice in the frozen realm Niffleheim.
(Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z Update#2: Tiwaz entry) -
Buri magically appeared in ancient times in a salty ice block within the icy wastes of Niffleheim. The magic cow Audumbla (who may have been the Earth Mother Gaea in one of her many guises) licked at the ice block to free him. On the first day, her licking uncovered Buri’s hair, on the second day his head and on the third day Buri was freed from the ice.
(Thor: Asgard's Avenger: Asgard entry) - The cow Audumbla licked from the ice the first Asgardian, Buri.

Profile by Snood.

CLARIFICATIONS:
No KNOWN connections to:


images: (without ads)
Mighty Thor Annual#5, story page 2, panel 4


Appearances:
Prose Edda (1220) - Snorri Sturluson
Journey into Mystery#97 (October, 1963) - Stan Lee (writer/editor), Jack Kirby (penciler), George Roussos (inker)
Mighty Thor Annual#5 (1976) - Steve Englehart (writer), John Buscema (penciler), Tony DeZuniga (inker), Archie Goodwin (editor)
Thor & Hercules: Encyclopaedia Mythologica (2009) - Anthony Flamini
Doctor Strange: Sorcerer Supreme#35


Last updated: 03/05/12

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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