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.