Whosoever Holds This Hammer: Thor Then & Now
Comics fans and spectators are buzzing about the news that Thor will, for at least a while, be a woman. According to series author Jason Aaron,
"This is not She-Thor. This is not Lady Thor. This is not Thorita. This is THOR. This is the THOR of the Marvel Universe. But it’s unlike any Thor we’ve ever seen before."
And on the issue of this being a gimmick, Aaron says,
"This will have long-term effects on the title. This isn’t something that’s just going to last for a few issues. She is Thor. She will carry that hammer in her own books and the other books as well. So for the foreseeable future this is Thor."
Wil Moss, editor of the Thor series, seems to remove any hubbub about replacement with this tidbit:
“The male Thor he’s still going to be around. He’s still a character."
Marvel has shaken up its cast before. Spider-Man’s brain was hijacked by Otto Octavius (Dr. Octopus) for over a year, but –SPOILER ALERT- Peter Parker got his body back eventually. There’s also the Ultimates version of Spider-Man, Miles Morales, who stepped into the role following the death of that universe’s Peter Parker. The quality of both of these Spider-stories probably speaks to the appeal of having someone other than Parker in the webbed shoes. Bucky Barnes took up Captain America's shield after the "Death of Captain America" story arc, only to return it once Steve Rogers came back. Will Marvel's readers flock to a Thor by any other name?
Axel Alonso, editor-in-chief of Marvel, provides this explanation:
"She wields the hammer because Thor can’t. This is different because for reasons we can’t disclose quite yet, Thor is unable to pick up the hammer. There are a number of women in Thor’s life, and we’re going to tease out for quite awhile the identity of who this woman is. But one of the women in Thor’s life picks up the hammer. She is in fact worthy. And she becomes Thor.
There’s only one Thor in the Marvel Universe. The character we know as Thor will not refer to himself as Thor anymore."
It would seem this is about the power of Thor being transferred into whomever is worthy of Mjolnir. In that case, "Thor" was already a woman when Storm wielded Mjolnir, or even Wonder Woman in the DC/Marvel crossover. Nevermind that other worthy bearers of Thor's power have also been a frog and a horse-headed alien known as Beta Ray Bill (a cosmic hero with enough lasting appeal that Odin gave Bill his own holy hammer, Stormbringer).
Thor’s appeal depends on the quality of the story, not gender. There has been a female equivalent to Thor for decades named Valkyrie, and her function on different teams has generally been “ladyThor,” with different writers using her character for better and worse. For that matter, why hasn't anyone tried Captain America's super soldier serum on a woman? Why do Green Lantern rings keep recognizing the courage in men only?
Among the regular shake-ups in the comics world, let's at least keep the Thor in Thursday, y'all.
For more tales of the god of thunder both strange and epic, I highly recommend Walt Simonson's run of Thor, linked below.
All quotes derived from TIME magazine's interviews and citations.
- "Marvel Comics Writers Explain Why They’re Making Thor a Woman"
TIME Magazine article about making Thor a woman