Howard Odin was Chieftain Executive of the Aesir, and wielder of the Asgard-Ring, a token of office and power with nine counterparts, one for each of the Ten Realms. He had two sons, his own, Stark, and the adopted Midgardian Stane. Upon denying Stark's request to join the Warrior Machines Three in battle, Stark lashed out and assailed his adopted brother, mocking his mortal lineage. Determining that Stark's own godhood was the source for his arrogance and vanity, Howard stripped his son of his divine powers and memories, and banished him to Midgard so that he could learn the pain and loss of being human.

The amnesiac Stark found himself in Norway. Possessing intuitive knowledge of Asgardian technology, he put it to use to become a rich yet humble inventor, under the identity of Sigurd Stark. Five years following Stark's exile, Asgard was assaulted by Malekith to obtain the Asgard-Ring and complete the full set of Ten Realm-Rings. He trapped all of the Aesir in bubbles of transparent Uru and made the Asgard-Ring his own. Unbeknownst to Odin, Malekith had been assisted by Stane, who had secretly resented his adoptive people. In exchange for Stane's help, Malekith arranged an attempt on Stark's life. The plain failed, and Stark emerged from captivity turned into the armor-clad hero Iron Hammer.

Iron Hammer returned to Asgard to battle Malekith, and regained his memories in the process. When Odin witnessed Stark battling Malekith, he initially believed him to be Stane. Malekith quickly pointed out Iron Hammer's true identity, and revealed Stane's true allegiance, breaking Howard's heart. Following Malekith's death and the retreat of his allies, Howard promised to restore Stark's blessing of eternal life. Stark refused, having found a new meaning to life in its fragility.[2]


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