Ok, so I’m willing to bet most of you have heard about the big upset in the Marvel Universe by now: a woman has taken up Thor’s mantle. She’s not Lady Thor or Thorina. She is Thor the Goddess of Thunder. She wields the hammer,the moniker and all that comes with it. Despite a lot of male fans being upset over this, the series is going strong with a killer plot arc to boot, which explores her rise to power and the Odinson coping with his loss of identity. Though I am not usually a fan of the Thor solo series, I couldn’t put the first five issues of this amazing comic down. Let’s take a look at Thor the Goddess’ story, and how it overlaps with that of Thor the….Shirtless, I guess.
Buckle up, readers. It’s hammer time!
The initial set up is fairly simple: Thor the Shirtless has become unworthy of lifting Mjolnir after Nick Fury whispered something into his ear during a battle in the Original Sin arc. For the moment (up to issue 5, that is), nobody knows what he told him that could have affected the God of Thunder so severely (my money is on Loki’s internet browser history).
After a Mjolnir is left alone on the moon where it fell, and Odin has proven that nobody is able to lift it, not even him, Thor the Shirtless leaves to fight several frost giants that are attacking a Roxxon facility beneath the ocean.
Enter mystery woman.
One of the most interesting points of this arc is that we don’t know who Thor the Goddess is. Her identity is kept secret from everyone thanks to a handy mask she gets once she picks up the hammer. The mystery makes this read all the more interesting, because I don’t know if she is an original character or someone already canon within the established literature. Thor the Shirtless does allude to the fact that he knows her from somewhere several times…
Another major alteration to the universe is that Freyja has been in charge of Asgard (now Asgardia) while Odin was away in a self-imposed exile, and she is not ready to hand the power back over to her husband.
This series does a great job of exploring women in positions of power once held by men. Ultimately, the misogyny comes through quite blatantly as characters like Odin decide the best way to handle the situation is to be derogatory to both Freyja and Thor the Goddess. Even characters like the frost giants take time to comment on Thor the Goddess’ gender. In issue 5 there was one scene where the villain (a woman) actually turns on her male partner and then surrenders to Thor the Goddess, citing it as respect for the girl power being exhibited by her very existence. While I appreciated Marvel’s attempt to highlight how groundbreaking a Goddess of Thunder is, and how rude men can be about it, that felt a little… self-congratulatory. Appreciated, but a little heavy-handed.
And if Marvel really wanted to prove how female friendly they were, you think they’d at least hire a woman as a co-writer or artist on this run.
But I digress.
Ultimately, one of my favorite parts about this new character is her outfit. As someone who has dressed up as characters for conventions before, I always ask myself one thing when I see a female superhero: would I feel comfortable wearing that, or would I feel like I’m in lingerie? In this case, I would absolutely wear her armor. Strong, powerful and just plain badass, she makes quite the impression when she breaks onto the page.
She’s no lightweight, either. From hordes of frost giants to the deposed God of Thunder himself, Thor the Goddess not only manages to stand her ground, but also delivers her own heavy punches and even impresses Thor the Shirtless in the way she is able to control and wield Mjolnir.
Thor the Goddess also builds a fascinating relationship with Freyja herself. When the series allows these two a moment of peace to just talk, it really brings out their individual characters. In issue 5, Thor the Goddess expresses her reluctance to wield the hammer and her fear that she may grow attached to the power it has, only to be interrupted by Freyja, who assures her that she has the blessings of the All-Mother and is confidant she will carry the hammer and name of Thor well. Thor the Goddess’ wavering confidence in herself along with her feeling of duty, coupled with her more modern styled thoughts vs her Asgardian styled dialogue, make her an interesting, but extremely conflicted character. Freyja, on the other hand, remains stalwart in her position against Odin and lends her allegiance instead to, who could easily be thought of as, her son’s usurper. Ultimately, both female leads in this series are easily distinguishable and extremely well written. Based on what I’ve seen so far, I have a feeling this series will be known for its female character development, both on the battlefield and in the dialogue bubbles.
By the end of the first act of the series, Thor the Shirtless has accepted that he is no longer worthy and must come to terms with that. He willingly bequeaths the hammer and his name to Thor the Goddess. It marks an interesting turn in his overall character arc, one I am keen on learning more about. One of (if not the) most masculine, powerful and confident characters in Marvel’s history is humbled in a way he has never been before. I expect great things in the future of his character development. So, to the guys who think Marvel is just being overly politically correct, how about you actually read the series?
Thor the Shirtless is facing possibly his greatest personal challenge yet. Meanwhile, Thor the Goddess is facing one equally as large, both physically and emotionally. She is an unknown entity, a female one, trying to prove herself against a world that is partially against her and at the same time comparing her to her predecessor (and I’m not just talking about the frost giants and villains).
Thor: the Goddess of Thunder has really piqued my interest in all things Asgard. From her mystery identity to her seeming reluctant to hold the hammer to her hilarious inner monologues, her narrative has barely begun and already I feel like I should be halfway to the nearest comics store to pick up issue 6.
My only real complaint is that the artwork at times, while consistently stunning, can be a little confusing, mostly in intense action sequences. There were several instances where I found myself squinting to see exactly what was going on. However, that may have been the point overall, as action sequences can be chaotic by definition. Though a little self-congratulatory on the feminist speeches and reasons why we need it (again, not unappreciated, just being subtle makes it more believable as dialogue), it marks a great feat in expanding the role of women in the comics world as leaders and heroes. Jason Aaron’s writing is magnificent, funny and heartfelt. Russell Dauterman and Jorge Molina’s art is beautiful and easily distinguishable from typical Marvel art styles. I immensely enjoyed the first five issues of this series and I absolutely recommend you find yourself the nearest woman and ask if you can borrow her copies.