Gunna Sijurvald is a half-troll and half-Asgardian girl first introduced in “Thunderbolts” Vol. 1 #145, cover-dated August 2010. At this time in the series’ history, the team, led by heroes Luke Cage and Songbird, consisted of villains Ghost, Moonstone, Crossbones, and Juggernaut. When the criminals were not behind bars, they were tasked with serving the greater Marvel Universe in a heroic capacity. In Gunna’s introductory issue, the Thunderbolts were assigned with apprehending a group of Magzi Trolls after it was reported that these “hobbits” (as Juggernaut so affectionately calls them) had been eating humans. The trolls were prisoners on Asgard before the God’s city was destroyed during the events of “Siege,” which allowed the Magzi to escape. The trolls are quite adept fighters and the Thunderbolts were having a difficult time apprehending these escaped prisoners. The final two pages of the book show Gunna striking Ghost with her Asgardian axe even though the villain’s suit grants him intangibility. Before inflicting any more damage to her ghastly opponent, Crossbones shoots Gunna with a tranquilizer dart, rendering her unconscious and allowing her to be captured.
The Asgardian warrior, Valkyrie, explains to the team that Gunna’s mother was an Asgardian woman who was kidnapped by the Magzi. As Valkyrie gives an account of Gunna’s past, it is implied that a male troll raped her mother, resulting in the Magzi Troll/Asgardian hybrid the Thunderbolts have apprehended. The Magzi then murdered the new mother and raised Gunna as one of their own. Fully accepting her Magzi heritage, Gunna wears a suit that gives her the appearance of a troll, complete with long ears and large, sharp teeth sewn around the mouth-hole. Inside the suit, however, is a young girl who appears human. Extremely feral in nature, Gunna typically speaks in grunts, brief exclamations, or short sentences of broken English. Obviously a danger to herself and others (because she’s eating others), Valkyrie believes that Gunna should be taken to the Asgardian’s new home so she may live amongst her people. However, the warden of the Thunderbolts base, the super-human prison known as The Raft, wants Gunna detained under his jurisdiction. The two agree that Gunna will stay on The Raft for the moment, but not indefinitely.
Shortly after her capture, the prison experiences a power outage (there’s always something wrong with security in prisons containing super-villains) allowing many inmates a chance to escape. Near the cells holding Gunna and Moonstone, Songbird finds herself overwhelmed while trying to detain a group of prisoners and calls out to Moonstone for help, knowing the villain can easily break out of confinement. However, it is Gunna that saves Songbird when she uses her Asgardian strength to bend the prison bars and aid the hero in combatting the unruly inmates. Though certainly a heroic act, Gunna does not acclimate to social behavior within the prison, and confirms that she is a cannibal to fellow inmates. However, the young girl bites off a chunk of Thor’s hand after he invites her to leave The Raft and live with her fellow Asgardians.
Though offered the chance to live a better life with the Asgardian people, Gunna will not renounce her troll heritage. It is not simply that Gunna feels a connection with the Magzi Trolls, she is one. With no other options, she must live imprisoned in a completely foreign world. While cannibalism is certainly something that the majority of the world frowns upon, it is easy to relate to this young girl, as no one would appreciate being jailed simply for living the life that one was raised to live. A flashback reveals that the Magzi village was burned down by Asgardian warriors, explaining why Gunna harbors so much anger toward the godly people.
After some harassment from a few male inmates, the warden decides that Gunna is too young to be kept on The Raft. Unfortunately, she is also too dangerous and unpredictable to be placed in a juvenile facility. The warden concludes that Gunna should be given the chance to use her strength for heroics, as the idea of the Thunderbolts program is about giving villainous super-humans a chance to serve the society that they once harmed (surely they wouldn’t dream of trying to escape). Given her troll outfit and an axe, Gunna officially joins the beta team of Thunderbolts, assuming the codename Troll.
While her teammates Mr. Hyde, Centurius, and Boomerang are murderers with ideas of world domination or financial gain, Troll simply loves a good battle. During a strategic retreat, Troll, dissatisfied with running from the fight, bites Mr. Hyde as he carries her away. Though Gunna doesn’t appear to understand exactly who her criminal associates are, nor that they are trying to escape from the prison’s control (it’s hard always being right), she nonetheless battles alongside them, even saving Boomerang’s life. She seems happy to have her freedom back and quickly befriends her teammates.
During her tenure as a Thunderbolt, Gunna welcomes what her teammates can teach her, and over time, displays increasingly human behaviors and emotions. She is shown fishing and hunting deer instead of resorting to cannibalism. Centurius teaches her to speak some proper English and table manners. Still a powerful member of the team, however, she is shown to have tamed a dragon and drives a demon out of her body by sheer force of will.
In what would be her final fight as a member of the Thunderbolts, Gunna appears saddened by all of the violence occurring around her. Tears form as she lifts her axe, ready to strike an enemy. Mr. Hyde picks her up and tosses her away from the battle, commenting that she is no killer. Though it was nurtured by a group of villains, Troll seems to feel a connection with humanity and now values life. While the villains eventually escape their team-leaders, Mr. Hyde leaves Gunna behind in their care, stating that the girl isn’t a criminal. Proving that to be true, Troll most recently appeared fighting alongside a group of Young Avengers.
Though Gunna Sijurvald was only featured regularly in one series where she wasn’t given much more than a background role (hence this whole D-list thing), it was a pleasure to see her featured in “Thunderbolts” every month. Jeff Parker did a wonderful job of creating and progressing Gunna’s character, considering the large cast of Thunderbolts with extensive histories and established mannerisms were the primary focus of the book. The changes to Troll’s behavior and personality felt natural and it was a wonderful experience watching her transform.
Unfortunately, Troll has never been featured outside of the “Thunderbolts” comics and a few issues of “Young Avengers.” Though Marvel has an enormous catalogue of characters all with potential stories waiting to be written, I hope that Troll is not forgotten. She is a powerful example to others, showing that there is greatness inside of everyone no matter where they’ve come from or what they’ve endured. Even though she was a member of a team of villains, she was by their side when they were at their best- helping each other and those around them, and I believe that played an enormous role in helping Gunna become the hero that she is. It is my sincere hope that after the Marvel reboot comes to a close later this year, Troll is placed in a new series so she can bite off a chunk of the Marvel Universe once again.