In 2011, Captain America and Thor both made their debuts in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in their first respective solo MCU films. While those two iconic Avengers were being introduced to a wider audience that year, they and the rest of Marvel’s comic book Avengers had to deal with the sudden re-emergence of Cul Borson, the older brother of Odin who was known as the Serpent in Fear Itself.
In the titular Fear Itself series by Matt Fraction, Stuart Immonen, Wade von Grawbadger and Laura Martin and its many tie-ins, the Serpent recruited an army to crush the Marvel heroes in an event that saw Steve Rogers to fully reclaim the mantle of Captain America for himself and even temporarily killed Thor. Almost seeming to mock the idea of Thor’s Mjolnir, the Serpent unleashed his own forces by using mystical hammers to turn some of Marvel’s most powerful heroes and villains into the Worthy, his chief agents of destruction. Now, we’re taking a look back at these powerhouses and how they were transformed into Asgardian terrors.
Sinthea Schmidt was born the daughter of the Red Skull, and she debuted in J.M. DeMatteis and Ron Frenz’s Captain America #290. Although he was hardly a loving father, Red Skull found a use for her, accelerating her age and instilling her as leader of the Sisters of Sin. Under her father, Sin would play a role in the death of Captain America after Marvel’s Civil War, but Sin’s face was horribly burned when Steve Rogers returned.
Becoming the new Red Skull, Sin traced rumors of an ancient Asgardian weapon. Upon finding it, she was transformed into Skadi and given the ultimate purpose of returning the Serpent to this world. From there, as Skadi, Sin nearly killed Bucky Barnes as she released the Serpent. Eventually, she was defeated in Broxton by a Mjolnir-wielding Captain America.
As one of the X-Men’s strongest foes, Cain Marko, the brother of Charles Xavier, was unstoppable once he began his deadly charge. During the Heroic Age, Cain Marko served as a member of Luke Cage’s Thunderbolts, which was essentially a work-release program for supervillains in the Raft. When a hammer crashlanded near hi,, the Juggernaut was transformed into Kuurth: Breaker of Stone.
As Kuurth, he destroyed the Raft, allowing prisoners to roam free. Making his way towards San Francisco, Cyclops and his team of X-Men attempted to stop their upgraded foe. While they managed to get his helmet off, this tactic failed, given his possession by an ancient force. Eventually, an Asgardian-powered Wolverine would defeat Marko. This possession held grave consequences for the Juggernaut, who lost the blessing of Cyttorak as Colossus claimed his Juggernaut powers.
Attuma was a slave and an exile of Atlantis who debuted in Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s Fantastic Four #3. After rebelling against his master, Attuma used his freedom to build his own army in a quest to conquer Atlantis. His rivalry with Namor included many battles with both taking major losses from each other. After being resurrected, Attuma became Nerkkod: Breaker of Oceans.
With this power, Nerkkod used his power to build an army from the sea to attack the surface world. At the same time, he also battled with Namor for full control of the seas. His attacks led him to battle both the Avengers Academy and the Defenders. Like the others, Attuma would lose his power after the Serpent’s defeat.
While investigating a crashed hammer in the middle of New York, Mister Fantastic had the Thing try to move the weapon from off the streets. Even though Ben Grimm is the heart of the Fantastic Four, this transformation was the most heartbreaking for Marvel’s other heroes as the Ever-Lovin’ Blue-Eyed Thing became Angrir: Breaker of Souls.
As Angrir, the Thing rampaged through New York, unable to break free from Cul’s grasp. He would’ve destroyed a hospital if it hadn’t been for Spider-Man’s intervention. As the conflict continued, the Thing would join the Hulk in a battle against Thor. Ultimately, an injured Thing was reverted to normal through the powers of Franklin Richards.
As a result of her premature birth, Mary McPherran was small and weak for her whole life, until she was given the chance to join Doctor Doom as a member of his supervillain army. Given powers and a more aggressive attitude, she became a career criminal known as Titania. After debuting in Jim Shooter and Mike Zeck’s Secret Wars #3, she met and married fellow career criminal, the Absorbing Man.
While operating in South Africa, Titania was imbued with the spirit of Skirn: Breaker of Men. As the Serpent’s servant, Titania spread destruction throughout the world. Losing the hammer after the Serpent was defeated, Titania had a mental breakdown when she returned to her imprisonment at the Raft.
Carl Creel was a simple, petty criminal until he was given the ability to absorb any material he touched by Loki in Stan lee and Jack Kirby’s Journey Into Mystery #114. Using this power, the Absorbing Man became a common foe for both Thor and the Hulk. Often joining with other villains, such as the Masters of Evil, the Absorbing Man eventually declared his love for Titania and the two wed.
Unlike other members of the Serpent’s Worthy, Carl was brought to his hammer by his possessed wife. Becoming Greithoth: Breaker of Wills, he was shown to be rampaging through the Middle East. After losing such immense power, Creel was affected, developing a desire to absorb powerful materials in the hopes of reaching what he had lost.
By the time Fear Itself happened, the Hulk had returned to being a lone figure, only really connected with other Hulks. While traveling with Betty Ross, now the Red She-Hulk, in South America, Banner hoped to rebuild their relationship after all the difficulties in their marriage. Spotting an explosion, the Hulk and the Red She-Hulk set out to investigate. Touching the crashed object, the Hulk became Nul: Breaker of Worlds.
As the most dangerous of all the Worthy, Nul rampaged against heroes like Captain Marvel until he was called upon to join the Thing in defeating Thor. Admitting he could never win, Thor threw Nul into orbit before crashing back down to Earth at the home of Dracula. Taking on hordes of vampires, the image of Betty would free Hulk from Nul’s control and led to Hulk’s decision to remove Banner from his mind.
Upon spilling an unknown chemical on his hand, Paul Duval was able to turn himself and any other object that he touched into stone. After debuting in Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s Journey Into Mystery #107, the Grey Gargoyle also developed a desire to learn the secret to immortality, which caused him to battle Thor on multiple occasions.
Becoming Mokk: Breaker of Faith, the Grey Gargoyle turned the population of Paris into statues, destroying thousands and effectively killing them. While Odin was able to save the city after the Serpent’s defeat, Iron Man, who was nearly driven back to alcohol after witnessing this brutality, imprisoned the Grey Gargoyle in a cage built for the Hulk.
KEEP READING: Marvel’s Secret Wars II Was Ahead of Its Time
In Marvel's Fear Itself crossover, some of Thor and Captain America's worst enemies and oldest allies were turned into horrifying Asgardian gods.