Yesterday, on The View of all places, Marvel announced that someone new will not only wield Thor’s famed hammer, Mjolnir, but that this new hero is a woman who will essentially be the new Thor. As writer Jason Aaron explained:
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.
Marvel hasn’t revealed the pre-Thor identity of the new heroine, though before the announcement the chief rumour was that Angela, recently introduced in Guardians of the Galaxy, would be the new god of thunder.
Certain male sections of fandom reacted like they always do and wailed about a female character replacing a male character, throwing around terms like “political correctness” and “feminist agenda” as if they were harmful, evil things. Other, more reasonable fans were intrigued, with reactions ranging from curiousity to outright enthusiasm. Personally, I think this could be a very fun comic, and that Marvel is going about it in a smart way.
First, the creative team is excellent. Jason Aaron’s run on Thor: God of Thunder has been great. He captures the epic awesomeness of the Norse gods well, and has a good handle on the mythological side of the Marvel universe. Aaron is a skilled writer, whose work ranges in tone from the light-hearted adventures of Wolverine and the X-Men to the dark Vertigo series Scalped. Russell Dauterman is an up and coming artist, currently doing solid work on Marvel’s Cyclops series, and he’s worked for several other comic publishers. From what I’ve seen of his art, he seems to be a cool mix of Olivier Coipel and Frank Quitely, while doing his own thing at the same time. Together, Aaron and Dauterman should make a great book.
Second, Marvel’s has an impressive track record with female characters as of late. Something seemed to change in Marvel’s thinking when they introduced the new Captain Marvel, and since then they’ve been focused on bringing strong, well-written female characters to the fore. Currently, Black Widow, Elektra, and She-Hulk are all getting rave reviews, while Ms. Marvel is arguably one of the best comics out there right now. I trust that if Marvel is introducing a new, female Thor that they’re going to do it right.
Speaking of doing it right, Marvel is smart to launch a new female character in a familiar role in an established title. Marvel’s recently taken a couple of stabs at books led by Norse women, and they didn’t pan out well despite decent critical acclaim. The Sif-starring Journey Into Mystery and the Valyrie-starring Fearless Defenders both barely lasted a year. This is less a problem of the characters, and more an issue of branding, and I think Marvel realizes this. Established entities sell better; that’s why so many DC books have “Batman” on them somewhere. Many fans wondered why Marvel didn’t just introduce a new female character with her own identity instead of giving her a male character’s title and role, which is a valid question. But in today’s comic market, most new, non-established characters aren’t long for the world. Introducing her as Thor is a smart way to ensure a built-in audience and establish a new female character in the Marvel universe.
Because let’s be frank here: As much as Marvel says she’s the new Thor from now on, she’s not. The old Thor will be back at some point. This is just how comics roll. But, if while she’s Thor she can get a foothold in the Marvel universe and build up a fanbase, when the old Thor inevitably returns and the female Thor gets a different identity, her time as Thor will have laid the groundwork for her continued existence in another book, or several. Being Thor is an excellent foot in the door for long term relevance.
Now, there are some fair concerns out there. Not from the aforementioned idiotic sub-section of fandom; Thor’s been a frog and a space horse before, so Thor can be a woman. Chill out, guys. But the costume has some silly bits. There’s a belly window, which is impractical and nonsensical, and some fans are displeased with the breast-conforming armour (“boob plate” armour is a non-starter for a lot of fans, which I can understand; in this case, I think the aesthetics work and it’s a lesser offender on that front, but that’s just me).
However, I think there’s far more to be excited for than to be worried about. We’re getting a female Thor from an excellent creative team with a massive PR push from the publisher! That’s cool in so many ways. It shows that Marvel is reaching out to female fans and trying to broaden their appeal, plus a female Thor is just going to be rad as hell. As a Wonder Woman enthusiast, I’m all about lady warriors, and I’m very pleased to see a new one take center stage. I’ll definitely be picking up the book when it launches this fall.