Review: THOR #8

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THOR #8
Written by Jason Aaron
Art by Russell Dauterman, Matt Wilson
Published by Marvel Comics
Release Date: May 13, 2015

SPOILER WARNING: This review starts with spoilers and never stops. Do not read it if you are hoping for any sort of surprise from this issue.

Thor has become a problematic mess. Yesterday, Thor’s identity was revealed through an online article and Dr. Jane Foster is the woman behind the mask. She’s also a woman battling cancer, something that was established well before she ever picked up the hammer. But now, being Thor is killing her. Though not on purpose, it drives home the notion that “women just can’t handle the power,” and it’s really bothering me. Jason Aaron chose to write that the transformations into Thor are making her cancer worse and it’s problematic.

As a woman who has seen female heroes get thrown by the wayside over and over, that’s what hit hard when the cancer effects of the transformation were confirmed. The first official female Thor is saddled with this idea the power is too much for her, that she’s inferior. She’s making a sacrifice to go through this process, knowing it’s making her die faster. The pure-heart female putting the world above her own pain.

It’s a heroic outlook. Yet, unless she finds her own cure, it feels like she still wasn’t enough to be a hero. Sure, the hammer finds her worthy, but the storyline established in Thor: God of Thunder already has her fate written. She still needs to prove she’s worthy in her own right, not just of the hammer, but as a hero. She’s presented as a complex female character, yet will it continue down that road?

It felt like a punch in the gut to read. This is the “end” of the series and there is zero resolution. It’s “temporary”. Long-reading comics fans will recognize that the series is on pause while Marvel “changes” everything, this summer, with yet another event comic. Also, Jane being Thor has always been temporary. The narrative has been very clear about that. However, you cannot look at this as a “comics” person. You have to think of this as one of the new readers brought in, who do not read all the interviews, who may have never read Thor: God of Thunder, who does not order books three months in advance. For them, Thor is ending and Thors, starring Jane Foster starts in under a month.

Thors isn’t sold as “starring Jane Foster.” The letter column seems to make a bigger deal about Frog Thor than the new Thor who has grabbed the attention of so many. Of course, given Odinson’s fate in the recent Avengers run, perhaps nothing is certain.

What is certain is that an event pause isn’t good for any series. Without a direct continuation of this storyline, or an immediate curve thrown to cure her cancer, there is a risk of more traditional fans who have been vocally opposed to this story to exclaim, “It’s about time! Girls can’t handle the hammer. I’m glad Aaron saw the light.” Thors will allow many different iterations to come together but offers no promise of a direct continuation of Jane Foster’s story.

But this issue is more than just one problem. The issue is gorgeous, the dialogue well written, and Wilson’s colors are just emotionally overwhelming. Dauterman’s facial renderings sell the story so well. The action packed beginning continues the battle from issue seven. Flowing capes, arms swinging with might, and the All-Mother taking on The Destroyer directly are all owned by Dauterman.

Layered panel layouts during action scenes and more traditional panel shapes for the peaceful moments pace the story well. There is a clear urgency through the art at the beginning. When the All-Father finally comes to his senses, via the words of his wife, a scene plays out through their facial expressions that is familiar to many a long-time married couple. Wilson’s colors sing.

And Jane gives a good one liner at the end. It’s all “Rah, rah, rah” be Thor, saving others is worth more than my own life; the power is killing me, but I’m gonna do it anyway. It is the heroic and noble aspect of Jane Foster. Dauterman and Wilson selling her ever increasingly weakened, hairless state, while fighting the horrible cancer within. And it just… it feels… not fair. Boys get to always be the heroes. They always save the day and more likely than not, stay okay.

While I do not voice it often, I have a lot more years of bitterness going into this series than new readers. Heroes with vaginas always get tossed off the court and back to the bench because “female heroes.” I’m betting a lot of new readers will be excited to see how she overcomes it rather than fearing this is how she succumbs to comics sexism. If it is the latter route taken, then cries that this was a stunt instead of a change will be shown as true.

The good news is that for now, Foster’s Thor will be around for awhile, at least. She is slated to not only be part of A-Force and Thors, but once the dust from Secret Wars settles more, she will part of the All-New All-Different Avengers. It probably helps that a flood of new readers and sales have come pouring in from her creation.

The challenge for Jason Aaron is that he’s positioned Jane being Thor as a temporary thing. He now has a brand new audience that’s reading the comic entirely because Thor is a woman. So it’s become an increasingly large problem that doesn’t seem to have an out yet. This book is gorgeous. The eye-candy factor of this book alone is worth the price. Beautiful renderings of a plethora of the women of Marvel fighting hard and quipping fast is fascinating. It is well-written, but it risks steering into dangerous stereotypical problems for “female heroes” territory. While Jason Aaron may swerve again, it’s worrisome that this story could end with not a bang, but a whimper. That’s what happens to female heroes: they whimper, then they disappear. This is the opposite of what Jane Foster deserves. I hope, with recent sales, Marvel feels the same way.

The Verdict: 8.0/10

Special thanks to Cameron Williams for assistance with this review.

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11 Comments

  1. jpooch said:

    I understand your hesitation but if Ultron Forever (which features a future version of this iteration of Thor) and All New All Different Avengers FCBD issue (that takes place after Secret Wars)are any indication she will be around for the foreseeable future and given the chance to shine. I hope so at least,and don’t blame you for assuming the worst

  2. richard price said:

    i think, if this version of thor had not sold well, that would indeed be how it ended (probably what they planned) but given its outsold the previous thor, its shown the company its an obvious success and i think they will change their plans (like when they ran ms marvel past issue 7) dunno how they’ll write themselves out of it, but i am sure they will since its in their interest to keep the sales numbers up, and if they do get rid of a character that has given the series a healthy increase in sales, well then they are idiots.

  3. Vanessa said:

    So, here … as a woman who likes strong females characters, I didn’t liked this Thor.
    I just followed the series (through and with a friend), and still don’t like it
    Let’s say respectfully: you want to make a woman be a hero, do not make it over the essence of a hero who does already exists.

    I don’t know if you understand what I mean.

    It is like Kamala, she is emerging with her own identity, not one is already there, taking a name it is not hers Ms Marvel drop the ‘fame’ name (undercover name actually) to be Captain Marvel, but she is still Carol Danvers.
    Thor Odinson is Thor’s name… he can stop or drop being the God OF Thunder, but still must be Thor, got the idea? Identity.
    There, you could be The Goddess of Thunder and be worthy of the Hammer (which I agree there should be a woman worthy of picking up and not suffering for it, but not Foster, who is a character that not represent -in my personal opinion- a strong female character, she is being forced, trying to make the character interesting. Again, personal opinion) not only a man, but must be yourself and be proud of it. HERSELF
    Finishing
    Agree again with the colors and the drawing, lines are wonderful. The storyline wasn’t the best (and once again, my personal opinion, not trying to convince anyone that should think like me).
    I am almost grateful that is end.
    Next time, they should do something better with a female character worthy to held the hammer and not dying for doing it, and have identity of her own.
    Greetings

  4. DemonRonin said:

    I grew up reading Thor. I gave this new thor a shot, up to the point (issue 4) where all the established characters were acting very out of character. Odin, sif, even the bad guys. Then what I was worried about, was true. Hearing it from my friends and reading reviews about it on certain sites. Pandering. All at the expense of not just Thor but Odin and everyone other character. And no one can’t say it’s not when arron seems to have written and marvel billed this series as such. And the end the new readers do not get a NEW Thor, they get THORDIS. Who is now canon. Heh..

    Thordis could have had a book called THORDIS. It may have not sold as much as this Thor series, but it would have sold a lot. Shame tho as so many female heroes that deserve their own book, and instead out comes BETSEY as RED HULK, Pepper pots as IRON MAN. JANE as THOR. (I see a trend)

    Blink and the exiles, Valkyrie and defenders, Arana, they do more for diversity then pandering ever will.

    Sure new thor brought in new readers, but if one of your aims was to have MALE readers to “empathize” with female heroes? I don’t see this way working. Anyway, for me I’ll just wait till Odinson gets his hammer back.

  5. Matt SantoriGriffith said:

    So, how exactly is writing for a female audience today “pandering”, but writing for the male audience in years past wasn’t? It’s either all pandering to an audience or it’s not. Or, it’s not pandering at all and it’s called SMART BUSINESS.

  6. DemonRonin said:

    I agree it is SMART BUSINE$$ move. Diversity takes a back seat to it. I’m not a Idealists or Activist and far from being feminist looking to change social norms via new media. But I know a few who actually really believe this is being done with their vision in mind. Just a pity sight that’s all.

    Me? I’m just your average Joe with hobbies that include reading comics and playing video games, watching sports, and the yearly hunting trips. I take my hobbies just as serious as many take theirs. So I can understand perfectly understand why many will view this new Thor as THORDIS from now on. And to be honest I would have brought a THORDIS comic, cause I already own one.

  7. Matt SantoriGriffith said:

    I mean, you can call her whatever you want, but she’s not THORDIS. She’s THOR. Period.

  8. DemonRonin said:

    Aye. But so is everyone else now. “THORS” Who thought thor should go legacy like robin, and green lanterns? Legacy characters seems to be the IN thing now. Look at all the spiders that their is now. An Arachnophobic’s nightmare. lol But that another topic.

  9. JustPlainSomething said:

    I’m probably naive in my thinking of the future of Thor (I’m still technically in that “new reader” group you brought up even if I’m more knowledgeable than the readers just now trying out comics) but I feel like if the creative team decided to make Jane Thor and they really did want to make this a book for the untapped female demographic, then they probably have a plan to keep her agency and strength and not make her a victim in her own story. Of course, that’s making the big assumption that the creative team understands what trope pitfalls to avoid when writing women with agency … it could very well be that the ongoing Thor stories could be disastrous for female representation in comics without the creators intending it to be.

    Something I DID like about the reveal was that I realized the hammer give Jane freedom and autonomy that she thought she had lost with her illness. The fact that she wants to do good and be a hero but that her choice to keep the hammer is also just a little selfish makes sense to me and is something I want to see explored more. But like you, I am just a little nervous about how they handle this, especially knowing that at some point Odinson will get his hammer back and the ultimate fate of Jane is very much up in the air.

  10. WrongPassword said:

    She’s Jane Foster. Thor isn’t her identity. It is her alias.

  11. WrongPassword said:

    There is nothing wrong with women wielding the power and even carrying the name. The problem was that the story and Jane just weren’t that good. All this series has is eye-candy.

    Jane Foster is inferior to the original. Outside of a badly written what if comic, nothing she has done suggests she is worthy of the power of Thor even during these 8 issues. Punching out a surrendering Titania is not a worthy action.

    I do agree that the idea of the hammer harming her is crap. The whole idea is made worse by her past refusal of magical healing from the real Thor. She isn’t fighting her cancer. She’s aggravating it. While I do like the idea of her dying from it just because almost no one really dies in comics, this is death by stupidity.

    Readers do deserve better heroines. Jane Foster just isn’t that heroine.

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