Location/Base of Operations: Nibelheim, subterranean caverns apparently on Earth (as seen in the image to the right);
presumably the fifth century AD (see comments)
Known Members: Alberich, Hagen (Nibelung-human hybrid), Mime;
formerly Gunther, Gutruna, and the Gibichung clan (although he was aiding them toward his own ends);
Enemies: Brunnhilde the Valkyrie, Loki Laufeyson, Odin Borson, Rhinemaidens, Siegfried, Thor Odinson
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: The Nibelung are experienced miners, smiths, and builders.
See individual profiles for their abilities
Traits: Nibelung value gold and other forms of wealth;
Alberich's family, at least were jealous, power-hungry, and spiteful
Type: Bilaterally symmetric humanoid bipeds
Eyes: Two (on head; colors vary, likely with human norm)
Fingers: Four (plus opposing thumb)
Skin color: Pink ("Caucasian")
Average height: Approximately 3' (varies somewhat between stories)
I#294) - Taunted by the Rhinemaidens, Alberich stole the Rhingeold (magic gold into which Mjolnir -- the hammer
of Thor from a previous Ragnarok -- had been transformed when cast to
I#295 (fb) - BTS) - Alberich forced his brother, Mime, to forge the
Rhinegold into the Circlet of Power (aka Ring of the Nibelung) and create the helmet Tarnhelm,
Alberich enslaved the other gnomes of the Nibelung. In the caverns
beneath Nibelheim, he forced them, including Mime, to
mine for gold.
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.
I#295 (fb)) - Loki subsequently guided Odin and Thor to steal
the Ring of the Nibelung -- which they accomplished via Loki's tricking
Alberich -- as well as the golden horde and the Tarnhelm and trade that
to Fafnir and Fasolt to recover Idunn; Alberich cursed the ring as he
gave it up
(Thor I#299 (fb) - BTS) - Via an unidentified woman of the Gibichungs clan (see comments), Alberich sired Hagen.
I#297 (fb)) - Mime came to raise Siegfried, a mortal incarnation of Thor,
who sought to learn what was fear, as none could teach it to him. Mime led Siegfried to battle the Fafnir, mutated by the Ring's power into a monstrous dragon form.
- After Siegfried slew Fafnir and claimed the Ring of Power, Alberich
approached Mime and argued that the Ring was his by right. Having raised Sigfried, Mime claimed that he would
convince the young warrior to turn over to him. Fearful of Siegfried, Alberich fled.
the Tarnhelm, Siegfried was warned of Mime's planned treachery, and he
instead killed Mime when his adopted father tried to poison him.
- Seeking to arrange Siegfried's death to recover his father's Ring of Power, Hagen manipulated
his half-brother, Gunther, leader of the Gibichung clan into a plot to
obtain a wife for Gunther and a husband for their sister, Gutruna.
Via a magic, memory erasing and will-enslaving
potion, Hagen manipulated Siegfried into bringing Brunnhilda to them to
serve as Gutruna's husband and Gunther's wife, respectively.
When Brunnhilda revealed her previous
relationship with Siegfried, violence erupted at the dual wedding,
during which the distraught Brunnhilda unwittingly admitted that he was indeed charmed, impervious
to all harm provided he never turned his back on his foe; Hagen overheard this revelation.
Realizing he was
risking losing all of his men, Gunther halted his forces, and allowed Siegfried to depart forever with Gutruna.
- When Gunther tried to make amends with Siegfried for his sister's
sake, Hagen fatally shoved his spear through Siegfried's back.
Returning to his castle, Gunther denounced Hagen as Siegfried's murderer, but Hagen swiftly killed him.
When Hagen attempted to
claim the Rhinegold ring, however, Siegfried's lifeless fist suddenly clenched the ring
defiantly, preventing Hagen from getting it.
Hagen was taken away by the guards.
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: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XRU1AJsXN1g (if/when this link becomes
defective, just search for it)
Yes, this is Elmer Fudd's "Kill the Wabbit" song...
The Nibelung are based on the character from Richard Wagner's Das
Rheingold (The Rhinegold), the first of four parts in the opera "Der
Ring Des Nibelung" (The Ring of the Nibelung) opera. You can Google it for more information.
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").
What are the Nibelung?
Courtesy of Wikipedia:
- In Thor I#294, Alberich looked like a normal-height, but kyphotic human, and he was referred to as a mortal by the Rhinemaidens.
- He calls himself a gnome of the Nibelung clan. If you just read this story, you might think he was using the term "gnome" in the sense that meant
"small, ugly person."
Thor I#295 forward, however, he looked like a dwarf, and he and other
members of the Nibelung were made to seem like a race of dwarves.
art team was the same throughout, but I wonder if there was a
communication breakdown in the drawing of #294, which was corrected for
the subsequent issues.
- The narrative by the Eye of Odin said they were called gnomes by men (as if they were not human) and Nibelungs by the gods.
- In Thor I#297, Alberich says, "Over the years, I may have changed my very shape."
know he changed forms while he held the Tarnhelm, but the "over the
years" thing makes it seem as if he might be trying to explain why he
looks different than he did in #294. Or not.
Alberich was just a mortal, I'm not sure how or why he ended up allied
with "Hela's hordes," including a group of giants and trolls (Asgardian
- I don't think
it's even been defined exactly how the Nibelung fit into the Asgardian
cosmology, but Nibelheim seems to be a subterranean cavernous realm on
- When Thor, Odin, and
Loki depart Nibelheim with Alberich, they seem travel from underground
to a mountain a short distance away. When they leave the mountain and
travel to Asgard, they are clearly seen leaving Earth and traveling
through space to the realm of Asgard.
assessment, which may change as I continue to re-read all of these
issue ad insanium, is that they were related to the Asgardian Dwarves
of Nidavellir...perhaps they were half-breeds from a mortal woman or
something...the world may never know.
- In the original stories they were Dwarves (or elves in some accounts).
- The term Nibelung (German) or Niflung (Old Norse)
is a personal or clan name with several competing and contradictory
uses in Germanic heroic legend. It has an unclear etymology, but is
often connected to the root nebel, meaning mist. The term in its various meanings gives its name to the Middle High German heroic epic the Nibelungenlied.
- The Nibelungenlied (Middle High German: Der Nibelunge liet or Der Nibelunge nôt), translated as The Song of the Nibelungs, is an epic poem written around 1200 in Middle High German. Its anonymous poet was likely from the region of Passau. The Nibelungenlied
is based on an oral tradition that has some of its origin in historic
events and individuals of the 5th and 6th centuries and that spread
throughout almost all of Germanic-speaking Europe. Parallels to the German poem from Scandinavia are found especially in the heroic lays of the Poetic Edda and in the Völsunga saga.
- The most wide-spread use of Nibelung is used to denote the Burgundian royal house, also known as the Gibichungs (German) or Gjúkings (Old Norse). A group of royal brothers led by king Gunther or Gunnar, the Gibichungs are responsible for the death of the hero Siegfried or Sigurd and are later destroyed at the court of Attila the Hun (called Etzel in German and Atli in Old Norse). This is the only use of the term attested in the Old Norse legends.
- In medieval German, several other uses of the term Nibelung are
documented besides the reference to the Gibichungs: it refers to the
king and inhabitants of a mythical land inhabited by dwarfs and giants in the first half of the Nibelungenlied,
as well as to the father and one of two brothers fighting over a
divided inheritance. This land and its inhabitants give their name to
the "hoard of the Nibelungs" (Middle High German der Nibelunge hort). In the late medieval Lied vom Hürnen Seyfrid, the name, in the form Nybling or Nibling, is given to a dwarf who again gives his name to the treasure.
- In a later poem Das Lied vom Hürnen Seyfrid
('The Song of Horny-skinned Siegfried'), known only from 16th century
printed versions, the original owner of the hoard is a dwarf named
Nibeling (or Nyblung). Siegfried happened to find it one day and bore
it away. At Worms Siegfried met King Gybich, his three sons Gunther,
Hagen, and Gyrnot, and his daughter Kriemhild. When Kriemhild was
abducted by a dragon, Siegfried rescued her and was given her hand in
- This variant usage of Niblung may arise from the identification
of the hoard of the Burgundians, or at least most of it, with the hoard
of treasure won by Siegfried. The German versions of the tale make much
of Kriemhild's right to the "Nibelungen" treasure through her previous
marriage to Siegfried. Some seemingly took Nibelung to apply
primarily to Siegfried's treasure, in which case it must mean something
else than the Burgundian royal family, and so another explanation was
- The alternate theory is that the connection with the treasure was indeed primary, and that nibel-, nifl-,
meaning 'mist, cloud', referred originally to a dwarfish origin for the
hoard, though this was later forgotten and the application of the name
to the Burgundian royal family arose from misunderstanding. In the
first half of the Nibelungenlied, Siegfried's last fight to win the treasure is against the dwarf Alberich. In Das Lied vom Hürnen Seyfried
the treasure belonged to the dwarf Nybling. Though the kings of the
Nibelungs named Schilbung and Nibelung in the first half of the Nibelungenlied
are humans as far as is told, it would not be impossible that in
earlier tradition they were explicitly dwarfs like Alberich. The people
of the Nibelungs also have giants in their service, perhaps an
indication of their earlier supernatural stature. In the Norse tales
the hoard originates from a dwarf named Andvari, thence passes to Odin, and then to Hreidmar (Hreiðmarr), and then to Hreidmar's son Fáfnir who changes into dragon form, and from him to Sigurd (Siegfried).
- Niflheim ("Mist-home") is a mythical region of cold and mist and darkness in the north. Niflhel is a term for part or all of Hel, the land of the dead. As dwarfs are subterranean creatures in these tales, who live in darkness, Niflung
would seem a reasonable name for these beings, an old name forgotten in
the north and only preserved in the garblings of some German accounts
of the origin of the Niblung hoard. In "Silver Fir Cones", one of the
tales found in Otmar's Volkssagen (Traditions of the Harz) (Bremen, 1800), the king of the dwarfs is named Gübich.
- It cannot be proved which meaning was primary, that of dwarf or
Burgundian prince. Scholars today mostly believe that the Burgundian
connection is the more original one.
- In the 19th century, the dwarf theory was popular and was adopted by Richard Wagner for his operatic Ring cycle which was very freely adapted from the tales surrounding Siegfried and the Burgundians.
(and Gunther's) mother was not identified in the Thor stories, but she
was named in Wagner's Gotterdammerung as Grimhilde; 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.
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.
- Nonetheless, Fafnir the Jotun appeared in Thor I#486-488, wherein Thor recognized him from their previous encounters.
earlier issue (#288 per my notes) described how Fafnir of Nastrond was
named after Fafnir the Storm Giant, and both Fafnir and Fasolt appeared
in a Giants of Jotunheim Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe
- Further, the Oversword,
formed from the Rhinegold, exists in the modern era, and it was formed
from the Rhinegold from which the Ring of Power had been composed.
Marvel Team-Up I#116, Thor and Brunnhilde the Valkyrie regarded their
past lives when her mortal incarnation loved Siegfried
(Thor's mortal incarnation).
- I think the
simplest explanation is that the events happened, but they may have
been distorted somewhat by Eye of Odin. Perhaps some of it represents
events from an even earlier cycle of Asgardians.
Profile by Snood.
The Nibelung have no known connections to
- other gnomes, dwarves, or "Nib" characters
images: (without ads)
Thor I#295 cover (Alberich with Ring/Circlet of Power)
pg. 8, panel 1 (Nibelung mining in Nibelheim);
#298, pg. 11, panel 8 (Mime with helmet and sword, challenging Siegfried);
#300, pg. 3, panel 5 (Hagen slaying Siegfried);
Thor I#295 (May, 1980) - Roy Thomas (writer/editor), Keith Pollard (penciler), Chic Stone (inker), Jim Shooter (consulting editor)
First posted: 09/04/2019
Last updated: 09/04/2019
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
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