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Archive for the category “Thor”

What We Can Learn From – Jane Foster As Thor

Last year Marvel made some headlines with the announcements that two of their franchise characters were going to undergo some big changes. Steve Rogers would no longer be Captain America, with Sam Wilson stepping into the role. The new Thor’s identity was kept a mystery, but was decidedly different; it was a woman. Though this is not the first time we have had a female Thor, it did cause quite a lot of debate with fans. Some saw it in a positive way with Marvel trying to diversify and appeal to more readers, while others thought it was a bad thing for a multitude of reasons.

My solution was to take the “wait and see” approach. The comic never seemed to get particularly good reviews and it seemed to me that they were dragging out the mystery Thor’s identity for a bit too long, but now the cat is out of the bag.

Thor

The latest and final issue of the series has revealed that Jane Foster is the new Thor. The long time love interest of Thor has been in and out of Thor comics, although she was important enough that they brought her along for the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies. With a pretty big name actress in the role, no less. But the fact that they changed Jane Foster from a nurse to an astrophysicist and only a few people complained reveals a pretty big truth; Jane Foster is not an engaging love interest and she isn’t all that important to Thor’s story.

Now she is an important part of the story, and while I haven’t read the comics to comment on how she is written as a character, I have to say the reveal feels… underwhelming. Not horrible, just… safe. A little too predictable.

Frost Giant

When Marvel made the announcement that Thor was going to be a woman, I knew that it would only be a temporary thing. Something new to shake up the book and generate interest. And as a fan of strong heroines and a proponent of them getting a chance to headline comics, I was perfectly okay with the idea. My hope was that Marvel would be able to craft a new character that would be able to gain her own cult following, and that she could continue to be a big part of the Marvel universe going forward. And that does seem to be Marvel’s plan going forward, as Thor is about to be replaced with “Thors“, a book featuring both the original character and Jane Foster’s version.

I just don’t think it’s going to work. I think Marvel dragged the mystery on for too long and that Jane’s reveal is too much of an anti-climax. I think readers are just going to view this as a disappointment. Ten years from now it will just be viewed as another silly experiment that didn’t pan out, and discuss how Thor is best when they keep the comics in relative status quo. Which is a shame for something that should have been a really big deal and a chance for Marvel to make another star.

Steer

I think the key thing to learn here for writers is that if you are intent on giving the readers a mystery, it is important to have a satisfying conclusion at the end of it. Readers should be going “wow”, not “Well, called that a few months ago” when you do the big reveal. I would also argue that the monthly comic book release schedule isn’t exactly the best format for this, since fans have weeks to pour over each chapter and figure out the answer instead of being dragged along on a roller coaster ride.

But I also hope that we don’t look back on this and say “Well a female Thor was never going to work”, because that’s a shame. The idea is okay, I just think the execution leaves a lot to be desired. I think Marvel saw this only as a gimmick and not as an opportunity, and that’s why it falls flat. There’s not enough creativity behind the idea to make it work. But poor planning and underwhelming writing should not be used as an excuse to keep women out of important roles in the future.

Jane

But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m assuming too much, and in a decade Jane Foster will have a massive cult following. Maybe she’ll even replace the original Thor. Perhaps the fourth MCU Thor film will feature Natalie Portman smashing fire giants with Mjolnir.

But I doubt it.

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Graphic Novel Review – Thor: God of Thunder

Ever since I got into comics I’ve always considered myself to be a “DC Guy”. While I have always been aware of Marvel’s long list of cool superheroes, DC Comics seemed to cater more to my particular interests. But I always had a soft spot for Daredevil and the X-Men, so it wasn’t a case of blind company loyalty. Just a matter of what I was interested in at the time.

A major factor in my decision to give Marvel Comics a shot was the pure fun of Marvel’s The Avengers, the 2012 superhero blockbuster that not only showcased how fun the Marvel universe could be, but how interesting the characters were. So towards the tale of that year I decided to pick up several early issues from the Marvel NOW! initiative, Marvel’s somewhat half-heated attempt to replicate the success of DC’s New 52 relaunch the year before.

I expected to enjoy Iron Man and Captain America most since they were my favorite characters, but instead it was the other two major Avengers (from the movie anyway) whose comics stuck with me. While I will definitely get around to reviewing The Indestructible Hulk at some point, today I want to focus on Thor: God of Thunder.

Gatefold Cover

Thor: God of Thunder, Volume 1 – The God Butcher

This first volume of Thor is written by Jason Aaron and features art by Esad Ribic. The major aspect that immediately drew me to this book was the way it was written. Jason Aaron understands that Thor is not just a superhero, but a mythological figure, a god straight out of legend. The structure and scope of this book feels less like traditional Marvel fare and more like an illustrated book of classic folk stories. Those illustrations are magnificent, I might add. Ribic’s art is some of the most gorgeous I have ever seen  in a comic and I often found myself pulled out of the story just to look at the drawings. So if that’s a huge selling point to you, I can’t recommend this book enough.

The actual story revolves around an immortal enemy of Thor’s named Gorr, who is the titular God Butcher. While his motives are not explained fully until the second volume, it is clear that Gorr is one of the most proactive atheists in the universe. He sees gods not as superior beings, but as negligent monsters who care only for themselves and not for the problems of the lesser people that worship them. Armed with this belief, he has made it his life’s mission to exterminate all divine life in the universe, which naturally brings him into conflict with Thor on several occasions.

One of the unique features of this story is that we are not following Thor at just one point in time. Thor first encounters Gorr in 893 C.E., where he suffers a rare loss in battle and is tortured inside of a cave by the God Butcher. While he lives to see another day, Thor is never able to forget the trauma he experienced at the hands of Gorr. In the modern day, Thor answers the desperate prayer of a child on a barren planet with no gods. Investigating the matter, Thor finds that the gods of the world have been horribly butchered and recognizes the work of Gorr.

Thor immediately searches for Gorr to bring him down, but if the future is anything to go by, he’s not very successful. Now missing an arm and an eye in the same way his father had, Thor is a king who is imprisoned in his own castle. He is the last surviving defender of Asgard, and Gorr’s personal vendetta against Thor has led to a slow, tortuous attack meant to draw out Thor’s suffering as long as possible. Not content with this, the future Thor charges into battle one more time to kill Gorr or to die honorably trying.

God Butcher

Thor, God of Thunder, Volume 2: Godbomb

The first and second volumes of Thor: God of Thunder are inseparable to me, as issues #6-11 are simply a continuation of the story that Aaron and Ribic began in the first five issues. Gorr’s back story has an entire issue devoted to it, with art by Butch Guice. While there is no denying that the God Butcher is a monster, Jason Aaron is able to make him a tragic villain who suffered because of the negligence of his world’s deities and is taking out that injustice on every other god. Gorr is a rather interesting look at atheism and humanism; he is somebody that believes that all-powerful beings are inherently evil and must be destroyed, but he also doesn’t realize that the more gods he kills, the more he makes himself a god in the process.

The strength of the villain is what allows the story to stay engaging even during some of the odd points. Realizing that killing gods individually is a long and somewhat futile process, Gorr somehow travels back in time to kill the very first god. With his blood and the slave labor of captured gods, Gorr has constructed the “Godbomb”, which will destroy all gods throughout time and space once activated. It’s kind of a bizarre concept but a fitting escalation of Gorr’s crusade and provides suitably epic stakes for a story that brings three Thors from different time periods together to bring the madman down.

Battle in the Sky

Thor: God of Thunder is a comic that I genuinely love because it made me realize that Thor’s status as a god could be used to tell an epic story, and helped me to become a fan of Thor comics. This run in particular is one of my favorites because of the strength of the villain; Gorr the God Butcher truly feels like a worthy threat to the God of Thunder and that is not always easy to pull off considering how powerful Thor is. The art is captivating and the story is strong, and I truly feel that this will be considered one of the all time great Thor stories when all is said and done.

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