Real Name: Alberich

Identity/Class: Unrevealed (Uncertain connection to Asgardian cosmology; see comments)

Occupation: Unrevealed;
    former leader/enslaver of the Nibelung clan

Group Membership: Nibelung clan

Affiliations: Hagen, unidentified trolls and giants;
    Grimhilde (Hagen's mother; see comments);
    formerly enslaved the Nibelung (including Mime)

Enemies: Fafnir (as holder of the Ring of Power), Loki, Mime, Thor, Odin, Rhinemaidens (Flosshilda, Vellgunda, Voglinda);
    formerly enslaved the Nibelung

Known Relatives: Mime (brother, deceased), Hagen (son, presumed deceased)

Aliases: None

Base of Operations: Unrevealed;
    formerly Nibelheim (terrestrial subterranean caverns)

First Appearance: Nibelungenlied (circa 1200 AD; see comments);
    (Wagner's Alberich) Das Rhinegold (The Rhinegold), the first of four parts in the opera "Der Ring des Nibelung" (The Ring of the Nibelung) opera (September 22, 1869);
    (Marvel's Alberich) Thor I#294 (April, 1980)

Powers/Abilities: Alberich had no superhuman abilities of his own.

    He formerly held the Ring of Power, which granted unspecified but apparently extensive powers: "Power over Earth and the gods alike."

    He also formerly held the Tarnhelm, a helmet which granted him shape-changing and invisibility powers.

    Alberich invoked the invisibility spell with "Night and Darkness, Hide from me Now!"; he transformed into a dragon with "Giant reptile, with coils to crush!"; and into a toad with "Creeping toad, mottled and small."

    Alberich was at times allied with Asgardian giants and trolls, whose power rendered him a significantly more formidable opponent.

Height: Approximately 3' (he initially appeared to be more like 5'8"; see comments)
Weight: Approximately 100 lbs. (assuming human body density, see comments)
Eyes: Brown
Hair: Gray, including mustache (both black in youth)

(Thor I#294) - Alberich approached the river Rhine as the Rhinemaidens lounged near the Rhinegold (magic gold into which Mjolnir--the hammer of Thor from a previous Ragnarok--had been transformed when cast to Earth).

    Hailing them as fish-like maids (or, he wondered, was it the other way around?), he asked if he could join their watery frolic.

    Flosshilda feared that he might be the foe seeking to steal the Rhinegold of which Odin had warned them, but Alberich claimed he merely wished to know what was gleaming.

    As Flosshilda asked her sisters to watch her tease Alberich, she told him the Rhinegold was not for any mortal.

   When Alberich asked its secret, Vellgunda called him a fool as she ran her fingers through his hair and told him of its prophecies ("world-conquest will be the prize of one who forges a ring of that golden horde"), but that no one would do that.

   Alberich asked why, and Vellgunda told him how it required renouncing all forms of love, and asked who would be mad enough to renounce love, "which rules all that lives".

   Noting that he had never known love, Alberich leapt atop the shallow peak and grabbed the Rhinegold, tauntingly asking if the Rhinemaidens now knew fear, and then suggested they should tremble when he told them that he renounced love and he cursed it.

   Unable to leave the Rhine, the Rhinemaidens futilely told Alberich to stop, asking if he had no pity. As he leapt to the shore, Alberich noted, "One needs be capable of love to feel pity--and I have thus renounced both. Farewell, finny ones!"

(Thor I#295 (fb) - BTS) - The Rhinemaidens prayed daily that Odin would avenge their loss and return the Rhinegold to them.

(Thor I#295 (fb) - BTS) - Alberich forced his brother Mime to forge the Rhinegold into the Circlet of Power and create the helmet Tarnhelm. Alberich then enslaved the other gnomes of Nibelung; in the caverns beneath Nibelheim, he forced them--including his brother Mime--to mine for gold.

(Thor I#294 (fb) - BTS) - Loki manipulated Odin into promising the goddess Idunn to the giants Fafnir and Fasolt if they would forge Valhalla, assuring Odin he would find a way that they would not have to give Idunn to the giants.

(Thor I#295 (fb) - BTS) - Loki's earthly search for a ransom the giants might accept in place of Idunn took him to the river-abode of the Rhinemaidens. They avowed that the Rhinegold horde was just such a treasure, but they told Loki that it had been stolen by Alberich.

(Thor I#295 (fb) - BTS) - Loki relayed the information on Alberich and the Rhinegold to Odin in the presence of Fafnir and Fasolt, specifically noting how once Alberich had fashioned it into a ring that would grant its owner power over Earth and the gods alike, leading both Odin and the giants to desire it. The giants agreed to accept the Ring of the Nibelung in Idunn's place, but Odin denied them, and they departed with Idunn.

   After Loki reminded the others that it was Idunn's golden apples that granted them their immortality, Odin resolved to invade the realm of the Nibelung and to capture Alberich's ring to trade for Idunn; he took with him only Thor, for his good right arm, and Loki, for his devious mind.

(Thor I#295 (fb)) - As Mime pleaded with Alberich not to enslave him and their fellow gnomes, Alberich noted that power had no kith or kin, and that soon the men of Midgard would break their backs laboring for him as well. As Thor, Odin, and Loki broke into the caverns, Alberich used the Tarnhelm to turn invisible and assault/taunt Mime until discovering the three invaders. Though the trio claimed to be wanderers, Alberich recognized them and noted that even they couldn't overcome him while he held the Circlet of Power.

   After Loki mocked the Nibelung, Alberich announced that he could defeat them with the Tarnhelm alone, then transformed into a dragon and confronted Loki. Thor leapt to Loki's defense, and although Alberich smashed Thor to the ground and tried to crush him within coils of his tail, Thor eventually smashed the dragon into the cavern wall. Alberich reverted to his true form, claiming he wished only to show that he could not be defeated while wearing the Tarnhelm.

   Odin stopped Thor from entering a prolonged struggle, and Loki tricked Alberich by asking him if he could become small as well, "or is that quite beyond thy powers?". When Alberich transformed into a toad and prepared to hide among the rocks, Odin pinned him to the ground with his foot, forcing Alberich's surrender. Alberich reverted to normal, gave Odin the Tarnhelm, and asked to be let free. Telling Alberich the Tarnhelm was the price for his life, but that he must bargain for his freedom, Odin had Thor take Alberich, and they traveled atop Earth's tallest mountain (...with Alberich bound in a metal strait-jacket-like deal).

   Odin first demanded the golden horde Alberich had accumulated--which Alberich summoned via the Circlet--and the Ring/Circlet of Power itself. Forced to surrender the Ring (I'm not sure why he couldn't access its power...perhaps once Odin got the better of him, he magically prevented Alberich from using it against them), Alberich uttered the Nibelung curse: "No man or god shall rejoice in possessing the Ring--though all in Heaven or Earth shall lust for it"; the curse would stand until the Ring was back in his (Alberich's) hand. Decrying Alberich as a robber of mermaids, Odin pulled the Ring from Alberich's hand. Odin swiftly sent Alberich away, telling him to be seen no more where he (Odin) held sway. As he flew through the air, Alberich warned Odin that he would one day remember his words and curse himself for his impudent folly.

(Thor I#297 (fb) - BTS) - Thor delivered the golden horde, the Tarnhelm, and the Circlet of Power to Fafnir and Fasolt; the former slew the latter and departed with the prizes.

(Thor I#297 (fb) - BTS) - Mime came to raise Siegfried, a mortal incarnation of Thor, who sought to learn what fear was, as none could teach it to him.

(Thor I#297 (fb) - BTS) - Much later, Alberich hired some giants and trolls--part of Hela's horde--and went near Fafnir's Hate-Cavern, where they waited for a chance to reclaim the Ring of Power.

(Thor I#297 (fb)) - Odin approached Fafnir and his allies outside the Hate-Cavern, and when Alberich threatened how they would trample Asgard on Ragnarok, Odin fired an energy burst at Alberich's feet.

    The force of this blast awakened Fafnir, who burst through the walls of his Hate-Cavern, asking who roused him from his dreamless sleep. Alberich claimed to be Fafnir's friend, warning him that someone came to steal his golden horde, but Fafnir correctly suspected that this thief was Alberich. The gnome continued to insist he was Fafnir's friend and requested the ring, "the tiniest part of his treasure," to keep him safe, but Fafnir unleashed a burst of flame at Alberich as he insisted the ring was his and instructed Alberich to go and let him slumber again.

   As Alberich and his allies fled from Fafnir, Alberich rushed past the approaching Mime and Siegfried; Mime told Siegfried that this was fear, which Siegfried did not consider very appealing.

(Thor I#298 (fb)) - Alberich and his allies watched from the woods as Fafnir confronted Siegfried.

    After Siegfried slew Fafnir and claimed the Ring of Power, Alberich approached Mime outside Fafnir's cave as Mime plotted to eventually steal the Ring--having raised Siegfried, Mime claimed that he would convince the young warrior to turn it over to him. Alberich countered that he would rather the Ring went to a mangy dog than Mime, whom he said would never possess it. However, when Mime warned that if Alberich were to attempt theft, he would call to Siegfried, who would punish him. 

    Though calling Mime's threats empty, Alberich apparently fled with his Nibelung allies.

(Thor I#299 (fb) - BTS) - Via an unidentified woman of the Gibichungs clan (see comments), Alberich sired Hagen.

(Thor I#299 (fb)) - At the castle of the Gibichungs, Alberich startled his son Hagen, bidding him good tidings and noting that Hagen's plan to avenge Alberich's disgrace was going well. He continued that so powerful was his hate that cursed the Rhinegold ring that Odin himself believed that the downfall of Asgard was at hand because of it. Alberich also noted that Hagen's machinations looked to thwart Odin's plan to have Siegfried purge the Ring of Power of its curse.

   Hagen thanked his father, noting that when the gods perished, the dwarves would inherit the world, and the name of Alberich would be on every tongue.

Comments: Created by unidentified Norse persons in the Nibelungenlied (more on that below);
    adapted by Richard Wagner in his Ring of the Nibelung trilogy (more on that below);
    adapted to Marvel from Wagner's version by Roy Thomas, Keith Pollard, and Chic Stone.

  For this and all profiles related to the Ring of the Nibelung, you should open up another page in your browser and load Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyrie"
    Something like this (if/when this link becomes defective, just search for it)
    Yes, this is Elmer Fudd's "Kill the Wabbit" song...

    What are the Nibelung?

    These stories were among those told to Thor by the Eye of Odin, and the events therein, particularly the origins of the current Odin incarnation, have been called into question. 

The Ring of the Nibelung comes, in a very general way, from the old Norse/Germanic legend of the Nibelungenlied ("The Song of the Dwarves"). 

Coutesy of Wikipedia:

    In German heroic legend, Alberich is a dwarf. He features most prominently in the poems Nibelungenlied and Ortnit. He also features in the Old Norse collection of German legends called the Thidreksaga under the name Alfrikr. His name means "ruler of supernatural beings (elves)", and is equivalent to Old French Auberon (English Oberon; the king of fairies).

    Alberich plays a prominent role in the Nibelungenlied, where he is the guardian of the Nibelung's treasure and has the strength of twelve men. Siegfried overpowers him using his cloak of invisibility (Tarnkappe), after which the dwarf serves the hero. Siegfried later pulls his beard in mock combat when he arrives unannounced to claim the treasure.

    In the poem Ortnit, Alberich, here described as having the form of a small child and visible only to the possessor of a magical ring, seduces the queen of Lombardy and sires the hero Ortnit. When Ortnit later seeks to woo the daughter of the heathen king Machorel, Alberich reveals his paternity to Ortnit and aids him in his quest, playing tricks on the heathen king and even impersonating the heathen god Mahmet. When Ortnit sets out on his final fatal adventure against a plague of dragons, Alberich takes back the magic ring and warns Ortnit not to go on his quest.

    In the Thidrekssaga, Alfrikr makes the swords Eckisax and Nagelringr, giving this last sword to Thidrek.

    In Wagner's opera cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen, Alberich is the chief of the Nibelungen race of dwarfs and the main antagonist driving events. In Das Rheingold, the first opera in the cycle, he gains the power to forge the ring after renouncing love and stealing the gold of the river Rhein, of which the ring is made. His brother, the smith Mime, creates the Tarnhelm for Alberich. News of the gold robbery and ring of power incites gods and giants alike to action. The giants Fafner and Fasolt demand the ring in payment for building Valhalla, and carry off Freia as a hostage. In Götterdämmerung (the fourth opera in Wagner's cycle), Hagen, the murderer of the hero Siegfried, is the half-human half-dwarf son of Alberich by Grimhilde, a human woman.

    Hagen's (and Gunther's) mother was not identified in the Thor stories, but she was named in Wagner's Götterdämmerung; it is further noted that Alberich paid for Grimhilde's love with gold.

    Wagner's Alberich is a composite character, mostly based on Alberich from the Nibelungenlied, but also on Andvari from Norse mythology, as well as the Frankish sorcerer Alberich

    In Norse mythology, Andvari (Old Norse "careful one") is a dwarf who lives underneath a waterfall and has the power to change himself into a fish at will. Andvari had a magical ring Andvaranaut, which helped him become wealthy.

    Using a net provided by Ran, Loki catches him as a pike and forces him to give up his gold and Andvaranaut. Andvari cursed the stolen gold which would destroy anyone who possessed it. After the deaths of Brynhild and Sigurd, Gunnar left Andvari's gold in a cave. Years later, Andvari discovered the cave and his lost gold, although his ring was lost forever.

   During World War I, the German retreat to fortified positions in the Hindenburg Line (which was officially named after Siegfried, despite its common name) was called Operation Alberich.

New images by Ron Fredricks.

Profile by Snood.

Alberich should be distinguished from:

images: (without ads)
Thor I#295, p8, pan5 (main image - Alberich)
Thor I#298, p10, pan5 (headshot - Alberich)
Thor I#295, cover (Alberich holding Ring/Circlet of Power)
Thor I#295, p9, pan8 (Alberich as dragon)
Thor I#294, p13, pan3 (Alberich approaching Rhinemaidens)
Thor I#294, p13, pan5 (Vellgunda teasing Alberich)
Thor I#294, p13, pan6 (Alberich)
Thor I#294, p14, pan2 (Alberich claims Rhinegold)
Thor I#295, p10, pan4 (Alberich as dragon, vs Thor)
Thor I#295, p11, pan4 (Alberich as toad)
Thor I#297, p15, pan4 (Alberich challenges Odin)
Thor I#297, p15, pan5 (Alberich gets his feet blasted by Odin)
Thor I#298, p10, pan3 (Alberich confronts Mime)

Thor I#294-295 (April-May, 1980) - Roy Thomas (writer/editor), Keith Pollard (penciler), Chic Stone (inker), Jim Shooter (consulting editor)
Thor I#297 (July, 1980) - Roy Thomas (writer/editor), Keith Pollard (penciler), Chic Stone (inker), Mark Gruenwald (assistant editor)
Thor I#298 (August, 1980) - Ralph Macchio (writer), Keith Pollard (penciler), Chic Stone (inker), Jim Salicrup (editor)
Thor I#299 (September, 1980) - Mark Gruenwald (writer), Keith Pollard (penciler), Chic Stone (inker), Jim Salicrup (editor)

First posted: 06/10/2018
Last updated: 04/28/2024

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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