Classification: Magic item associated with Asgardian cosmology

Creator: Mime

User/Possessors: Alberich, Fafnir (giant), Odin (briefly), Siegfried

First Appearance: (Wagner's Tarnhelm) Das Rhinegold (The Rhinegold), the first of four parts in the opera "Der Ring des Nibelungen" (The Ring of the Nibelung) opera (September 22, 1869);
    (Marvel's Tarnhelm) Thor I#295 (May, 1980)

Powers/Abilities/Functions: The Tarnhelm was a magical helmet that grants its wearing shape-changing and invisibility powers.

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

    Siegfried used the Tarnhelm to adopt the form of Gunther.

Note: The Tarnhelm is not shown in the image to the left; it is either underneath or merged with Siegfried's standard winged helmet.

(Thor I#295 (fb) - BTS) - Alberich forced his brother Mime to forge the Rhinegold into the Circlet of Power and create the helmet Tarnhelm (I'm not sure whether it was forged from the Rhinegold, but it seems likely), and Alberich enslaved the other gnome of the Nibelung.

(Thor I#295 (fb) - BTS) - Seeking the Rhinegold to trade to the giants Fafnir and Fasolt for the recovery of the goddess Idunn, the gods Thor, Odin, and Loki broke into the caverns of Nibelheim.

(Thor I#295 (fb)) - Alberich used Tarnhelm to turn invisible and assault/taunt Mime until discovering the invaders.

   After Loki mocked the Nibelung, Alberich announced that he could defeat them with the Tarnhelm alone, and transformed first into a large and powerful dragon to battle Thor. After Alberich reverted to his normal form and boasted that he could not be defeated while wearing the Tarnhelm, Loki tricked Alberich by asking him if he could become small as well. When Alberich transformed into a toad, 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 also forced Alberich to surrender the gold hoarde Alberich had accumulated (via the Nibelungs' forced mining) and the Ring/Circlet of Power itself.

(Thor I#296 (fb)) - 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) - Via the Ring of Power, Fafnir transformed himself into a dragon.

(Thor I#297 (fb) - BTS / Thor I#298 (fb) - BTS) - Siegfried confronted, battled, and mortally wounded Fafnir.

(Thor I#298 (fb) - BTS) - Reverting to his humanoid giant form, Fafnir  told Siegfried of the Rhinegold and his golden hoarde.

(Thor I#298 (fb)) - Siegfried claimed the ring from Fafnir's corpse and then entered Fafnir's Hate-Cavern, claiming and donning the Tarnhelm.

   After Mime delivered Siegfried's helmet (dropped in the battle with Fafnir), Siegfried placed it atop the Tarnhelm, and the two helmets apparently (and without any ado) merged, retaining the classic winged helmet of Thor (or else Siegfried wore two helmets at all times).

(Thor I#298 (fb)) - Siegfried wore the Tarnhelm--under or merged with his helmet-- but did not use it as he passed through the circle of fire, confronted Brunnhilde at the mountaintop, and fell in mutual love with her.

(Thor I#299 (fb)) - Entranced by a love potion from the dwarf Hagen, Siegfried used the Tarnhelm to take the form of Gunther, lord of the Gibichung, in which form he confronted and liberated Brunnhilde from the circle of fire in which she had been imprisoned. Unable to remember his previous love for Brunnhilde due to Hagen's potion, Siegfried took her away by force.

   Soon after, Hagen greeted Siegfried (still in Gunther's form) as here turned to the Gibichung castle, after which he delivered the still unconscious Brunnhilde to Gunther and then transformed back to his own appearance at Gunther's request.

(Thor I#299 (fb)) - Siegfried wore but did not use the Tarnhelm during the planned wedding, which led to a confrontation when Brunnhilde recognized Siegfried as her lover. As Siegfried easily slaughtered his forces, Gunther agreed to let Siegfried marry his sister Gutruna if he left his kingdom.

(Thor I#300 (fb)) - While Siegried was out hunting, Hagen and Gunther met up with him, and Hagen fatally impaled Siegfried from behind while he was distracted.

    Siegfried's corpse, still wearing the Tarnhelm, was set afire on the river Rhine.

    When the Valkyries Valtrauta and Grimgerda brought Siegfried and Brunnhilde's forms to Asgard, Odin restored them to their true godly forms as Thor and Brunnhilde the Valkyrie before dismissing them and erasing their memory of those events.

Comments: Created by Richard Wagner;
    adapted by Roy Thomas, Keith Pollard, and Chic Stone.

    As far as I know, the Tarnhelm has not been referenced since Siegfried's reincarnation as Thor.

    According to Wikipedia, there is no Tarnhelm in the original Adnvari myth from Reginsmal in the Poetice Edda, from which Wagner drew inspiration.

New images by Ron Fredricks.

Profile by Snood.

The Tarnhelm should be distinguished from:

images: (without ads)
Thor I#295, p8, pan5 (Alberich wearing Tarnhelm)
Thor I#299, p8, pan5 (Siegfried transforming to appear as Gunther, Tarnhelm not actually shown)

Thor I#298, p11, pan1 (Siegfried wearing Tarnhelm)

Thor I#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)
Thor I#300 (October, 1980) - Mark Gruenwald & Ralph Macchio (writers), Keith Pollard (penciler), Chic Stone (inker), Jim Salicrup (editor)

First Posted: 12/18/2018
Last updated: 04/17/2024

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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