In this account of Danish legendary adventures, Hod is a Saxon king who’s bad news on the battlefield: He kills not only Balder, but also Odin and Thor.
In his history of the Danish and Swedish people, Saxo Grammaticus imagines the Norse gods as real historical figures. He spins the story of Balder’s death into an epic love triangle. Demi-god Balder and Danish prince Hod are both in love with a princess named Nanna. After many years, many battles, and some magical strength-increasing food, Hod kills Balder and gets the girl.
In the Völuspá, Odin chats with a prophetess and learns more than he wants to know. Like the fact that his son, Hod, will kill his other son, Balder. And that a third son, Vali, will refuse to comb his hair or wash his hands until he has killed Hod. Luckily, the prophetess also tells Odin that Vali will act quickly, which is why he’s not known as “the dirty god.”
If you’re scratching your head trying to figure out why Hod would kill his own brother, good ol’ Snorri can help you out. In his Gylfaginning, he explains that everything on earth took an oath not to harm Balder except for mistletoe. Naturally, the gods decided to test out the oath’s effectiveness by shooting stuff at Balder. But Hod was blind, so he didn’t realize that Loki had tipped his arrow with mistletoe. Loki guided Hod’s aim straight for Balder. So you see, Hod didn’t mean to kill Balder. It was an accident. Big oops.
In his Marvel Comics incarnation, Hod is old, decrepit, and blind. But don’t feel too badly for him: Like the blind prophet Tiresias, he can see the future. He apparently can’t see the whole future, though, because Loki’s still able to trick him into killing Balder.