Last Summer Whoopi Goldberg made the exclusive announcement on The View that the new Thor would be a woman. A sentence no one would have ever guessed would be written ever. The internet shortly after filled comment sections to the brim with the eternal battle of nerd rage vs feminism and everything in between. I remember hearing the announcement and, not being a huge Thor fan or into comics in general, not really thinking much of it. I do remember seeing the first image with the masked new Thor and the inky eyes and thinking the design was pretty cool but that was about as much of an opinion as I had. Fast forward a few months and I was digging how Jason Aaron was writing the new Star Wars comic. I talked to my buddy Jordan about Aaron and he had generally positive things to say about the guy, so I picked up the 4th printing of Aaron’s Thor #1 with the new female Thor, it turned out to be a great gamble and I can say I really enjoyed the first big arc of the all new Thor.
The premise of the book starts with old Thor (Odinson) unable to lift his magical hammer Mjolnir. Nick Fury whispered some shit into Odinson’s ear that caused him to become unworthy for whatever unknown reason and he’s pretty bummed about it. To make matters worse Odin is pissed at him for being unworthy so he needs to get out of dodge. He heads down to Earth to fight some rogue frost giants that are causing problems and ends up getting his arm cut off by Malekith in the process. Things are going from bad to worse but then an unknown woman picks up Mjolnir exclaiming “There must always be a Thor” and starts to clean shop as the all new Thor.
This is really where stuff starts to get interesting. We learn that Thor is deeply familiar with the legacy of Thor, she knows all the players, all the lingo and she even knowns how to speak like Ye Olde Goddess of Thunder. The cool thing that Aaron does though is her thoughts are in normal everyday language, unsure of herself, while when she speaks its full of Asgardian Hel and brimstone. Odinson and Thor don’t exactly hit it off, issue #4 is all about Odinson comforting the Goddess of Thunder demanding back his hammer as well as his title. In the end, he gives in and they join sides, convinced this mystery woman truly is worthy of the name Thor by the way she wields Mjolnir in battle.
Now is probably a good time to speak to the art in Thor. In a word its fantastic. Russel Dauterman’s pencils are expressive and dynamic. You’ll see the anger flash on Thor’s face when she’s getting pissed about something, or you’ll see the conflict and sadness when she can’t reveal her identity, not an easy thing to do with a masked character. The environments are particularly well done. With giants and minotaurs and hammers bashing everything in site there tends to be a lots of debris flying though the air in every other panel, its always pretty clear what is happening and the debris all over the battle scenes really heighten the energy of the panels and it is well done. Some of my favorite panels were when Malekith was weaving spells which are drawn with hot pink arcane symbols flowing in and out of the ether. Its really awesome stuff, its hard to have a memorable looking super hero and Marvel has been hitting it out of the park lately with designs like the new Thor and Spider Gwen.
By issue #5 Aaron’s writing gets pretty heavy handed and lame and it was really the the low point of the entire arc. By this issue, the nerd rage has gotten to him and where before he just was using Odin as his representative woman hater, he now uses a 6 page spread to bash home his views in the most unsubtle way possible. We’re treated to panels such as these basically speaking directly to the reader (who is the one buying his book?!)
Issue #5 also had a guest artist instead of Dauterman, they did a perfectly serviceable job but these same panels from Dauterman would have been filled with clouds of smashed pieces of concrete and capes looking like they were something out of Spawn. I’ve been dancing around the girl power theme of this book for awhile now, so I’ll just address it. When this book was at its best it was when Thor was cleaning shop doing her thing to protect the Earth. It was when you heard the thoughts in Thor’s head basically asking herself “What would Thor do?” It was when the Odinson was making a list of everyone he knew and playing detective, making an ass of himself. Thor being a female is not the interesting part, Thor being someone other than Thor is the interesting part. The girl power aspect is fine as long as that isn’t your main selling point for this all new Thor for the rest of her run because that has limited upside. Give Thor her own interesting story and reason for being Thor, besides just being a woman, and there is infinitely more mileage there. By the last issue you’ll see this is exactly how Aaron sets her up for the future, even if he had to get through a few pure girl power moments to get there so be it.
With issues #7 and #8 a climatic battle is set up. Throughout the series Thor has pissed off Odin enough that he sicks the Destroyer on her so she’s up for a pretty tough battle. Thor is joined by half of the females in the Marvel U that Odinson has recruited, half to help her, half for him to figure out the secret identity of Thor. Don’t worry there is some payoff at the end of the series and the reader does find out the identity of Thor but Aaron holds back a few mysteries and sets up a nice second arc with a good big bad. Sadly right now is the Secret Wars event so this Thor probably won’t be back till September at the earliest, I can’t see Marvel abandoning this book as it sold like gang busters. It was a fun story and the added bit of mystery kept you coming back month after month. In the end Marvel has set up an interesting dynamic here for one of its tent pole characters and took a risk that seems to have paid off. The trade for the first 5 issues is out now, pick up a copy, grab a frosty mead, a hunk of bread and read some Thor!