WARNING: This article contains spoilers for The Mighty Thor#700, by Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman, released this week by Marvel Comics.
The Marvel Legacy story arc “The Death of the Mighty Thor” began in Marvel Comics’ oversized The Mighty Thor #700, but instead of witnessing Jane Foster’s death, the issue concluded with the demise of a beloved supporting character.
Let’s all give a moment of silence to Odinson’s loyal goat, Toothgnasher. He died heroically while never abandoning his post.
Who is Toothgnasher?
Toothgnasher was introduced, alongside his fellow mystical goat Toothgrinder, in 1976 in Thor Annual #5, by Steve Englehart and John Buscema. They’re of course based on Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjóstr, the two goats that pull Thor’s chariot in Norse mythology. Although only playing a small role in Thor comics over the years, the pair of goats enjoyed an increased presence during writer Jason Aaron’s tenure on Marvel’s god of thunder, in flashback tales to the Viking Thor in Thor: God of Thunder and a Mjölnir-less Thor in Unworthy Thor and Mighty Thor.
Toothgnasher was no run-of-the-mill goat. Imbued with superhuman strength, the ability to fly and travel between the 10 realms, he did more than merely transport Thor from battle to battle. After finding himself unworthy to lift Mjölnir, Odinson would often be found thrashing trolls and frost giants with Toothgnasher at his side, ready to give a stiff headbutt to an oncoming foe.
Guarding the War Thor’s Hammer on Old Asgard
The hammer from the Ultimate universe made its way to the Marvel Prime universe in the fallout of 2015’s Secret Wars, and found a nice resting spot in the ruins of Old Asgard. There it laid until it began calling out to Volstagg, who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder after witnessing children murdered on Muspelheim. Once Volstagg picked up the hammer, he was transformed into the bloodthirsty War Thor. It took the combined efforts of Jane Foster Thor, Odinson, and S.H.I.E.L.D Agent Roz Solomon to calm Volstagg enough to give up the weapon. Their time apart didn’t last long, as the hammer flew across the cosmos back to its new owner.
Toothgnasher is a stubborn goat, however. Odinson tasked him with guarding the hammer, so when Volstagg was in range, he struck Volstagg down out of the sky, where they all crashed on Old Asgard.
Toothgnasher’s Last Stand
Remember how Toothgnasher was always up for a fight, like his master Odinson? This particular character trait led to Toothgnasher’s downfall on Old Asgard. After Toothgnasher squared off with Volstagg, an object fell from the sky and crashed to the ground in a cloud of dust. Before Volstagg could even blink, the brave Toothgnasher sprang into action and headed towards the new threat, sight unseen.
What Toothgnasher found was no ordinary threat, however, but the reappearance of the dreaded Mangog. Billed as having “the strength of a billion billion beings” and a “rage unquenchable,” Mangog has returned to Asgard for the ultimate judgment of the gods. Unfortunately for poor Toothgnasher, that brought with it decapitation at the hands of Mangog.
Although the act was quick (and hopefully semi-painless), Toothgnasher died a warrior’s death. Toothgrinder, Thori, and Odinson will surely mourn for their fallen comrade.
But is this the last we’ll see of Toothgnasher?
One of the side stories in The Mighty Thor #700 involves a leap eons in the future. There we see Thor’s granddaughters Atli, Ellisiv and Frigg riding two magical goats while attempting to grow plant life on New Midgard. Although it’s possible these are two new goats that serve the goddesses of thunder, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Toothgnasher is resurrected to rejoin Toothgrinder for many more adventures.
For now, fans of Toothgnasher are left with warm memories of the courageous goat that sacrificed his life for the greater good. May his name forever echo in the halls of Asgard and Asgardia.
The Mighty Thor#700, by Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman, is on sale now from Marvel Comics.
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