Last Wednesday, Marvel released the first comic with their new Thor – aptly named Thor #1. The interesting part of the new Thor, the news-worthy part that has been expected and announced in advance, is that the new Thor is a woman.
I don’t want to spend too much time debating the point on whether or not this is a good idea. I can understand the why. There’s been a general call for better representation in comics, and Marvel seems to (slowly perhaps) be responding. And I can also understand, from being a comics reader – introducing a new character, and getting people to like them, is hard.
Like the recent event – Infinity – which spawned a ton of new people with superpowers, as those with Inhuman genes were activated around the planet. How many characters do I expect to have come out of this that are going to last? One. Ms. Marvel.
So I wanted to give this new Thor a look. I want to look at this comic first as to whether it is a good starting point for a reader. Then I want to look at who this new Thor is – and then at what happens with the old Thor. Spoilers below for Thor #1! Also, lots of pictures. Sorry if you have a slow connection…
Was Thor #1 Accessible to a New Reader?
I will definitely say, I am not much of a Thor reader. I read a bit of Thor comics from the 80’s, for my LitFlix on Thor: The Dark World. I’ve also encountered the character in a few Avengers titles I’ve read in recent years – Uncanny Avengers by Rick Remender, and Avengers by Jonathan Hickman. And I do have to say, I have particularly loved Hickman’s Thor:
But I haven’t been reading any of the new Thor comics, nor really the older ones, and the question as I was reading was really, would I keep reading? Did I know what was going on?
This comic starts with a problem stemming from the recent Marvel event, Original Sin, and Thor can no longer lift his hammer. The time therefore is ripe for someone else to be worthy, to lift it, and to have the power of Thor. I haven’t read Original Sin, and it doesn’t seem you need to have read it to really get it. It did make me a bit interested in what happened in Original Sin, though…
It then continued on by giving us a couple of villainous problems that could sure use Thor. One was the Frost Giants. The other was Malekith the Accursed. They successfully hit on the two main villains from the two Thor films, and this felt to me very much like they wanted to be accessible to people who have never read a Thor comic, but who probably have seen the movies.
Then there’s family issues. Apparently, Odin has been gone from Asgard for a time, and Freya has been in charge. That’s cool. But now, Odin is back, and he seems to have brought a whole lot of desire for power and old-timey misogyny with him. And meanwhile, Freya doesn’t really think that she needs to step down. But Odin just kind of steamrolls past her. So where things have been in the comics with the two of them is set aside, and they’re in to a new dynamic – with characters we know from the movies again, as well.
So if you’ve seen the movies, I do think you can read this and have an idea what’s going on for the most part. However, it also felt like there was a lot tying it back to the comic history of Thor, so it’s not a perfect entry point I feel like. But it could be worse.
Who Is This New Thor?
Well. Even if I wanted to spoil this, I couldn’t. We go the entire comic without a Thor, until, in the last two pages, a woman shows up, and picks up the hammer. Who is she? What makes her worthy when the old Thor wasn’t?
I guess these questions will largely have to wait for issue 2 and beyond. However, they do leave us some hints that lead to two main possibilities.
Freya was scorned by Odin and the rest of the Asgardian establishment (the Warriors Three were there!). She seems thoughtful. So I’m pretty sure the new Thor is her doing.
So if she went out and found someone known from the comics, will this make the comic less accessible to new readers? I don’t know. It would depend potentially on who, I guess. If she went out and found someone entirely new and random, does that make sense even? She just happened to find someone worthy?
Because the hammer is on the moon. It’s definitely not being found by just anyone. Maybe by another superhero?
Here’s the other alternative I see: Freya picked up the hammer.
After all, she fits the look. Blonde, and otherwise the helmet is covering the face. The chin is similar. And the way she looked at that hammer…
However, if it was Freya who picked it up, I don’t think it’ll be a permanent thing. It’s the old Thor’s mother. Parents pass things down to their children – not generally the other way around. Not permanently. If it’s Freya, it seems more like a publicity stunt and a couple year story arc. Which might be a good arc, but not permanent.
So What Happened to the Old Thor?
He’s still alive. Without being able to pick up the hammer, and with trouble attacking Midgard (Earth), he grabs an axe and leaps into battle.
Oh, and loses his arm.
Here’s the thing: I have something to say about both the arm and the axe.
First, there’s Hickman’s Avengers. I’ve been waiting for combined volumes on this one, so I am not up to date. But I do see the covers – and the most recent one includes the old, male Thor. I had noticed he was wielding an axe. I had not noticed the metal arm.
So, he’s definitely still around, and still trying to be a hero. This issue of Avengers (as the top text suggests) is supposed to be set several months in the future – so months in the internal clock future of the comics, old-Thor is still around, trying to be a hero, no hammer, using his axe, with a Winter-Soldier-wanna-be arm.
Meaning… Thor, the new Thor, the female Thor… doesn’t join the Avengers? Will she become part of any teams? Or just grace the pages of her own, single comic, telling a single story, and fading away? I don’t know, but I’m a little peeved that she’s not in Hickman’s Avengers. Especially since that same cover includes the new Captain America. But I plan on covering that next week…
Meanwhile, the axe. That looks, to me, like Jarnbjorn. The named, storied axe which became a major key in Uncanny Avengers by Rick Remender. Okay, so here’s another throwback to other comics… and another team Thor is on. Will this new Thor be on the Avengers Unification Squad? This team of Avengers-plus-X-Men has had a couple of really long plots (read: lots of comics to tell the story of a day or two). They also don’t seem to quite align with the other comics, or if they do, I’m not sure quite where.
If the new Thor is only in the one comic, it especially seems like a publicity stunt. Thor is a character who is a core part of the Avengers, as a team, and appears in a great many comics. Thor is maybe the Marvel character with the most baggage: comics with various Thor titles, as well as being a major part of the long-running Journies into Mystery, as well as being a member of the Avengers and other teams… as well as Norse mythology. With that much baggage, a new Thor is not an easy task – and it remains to be seen what they will pull off by trying it!
The comic is being made by a team of men: Jason Aaron (whose work on Wolverine and the X-Men I loved), and artist Russell Dauterman, a relative newcomer. However, they tease us at the end with variant covers. And there is a a beautiful cover by Fiona Staples: the artist for Saga. If she were doing the art for Thor? I would be all over this comic.