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Thursday, July 17, 2014

OH LAWDY THOR'S A WOMAN

Have a new Salem

*Here, and I was worried a topic would not present itself for me to write upon this week..*

     So the other day it was announced the Marvel's Thor was now going to be a woman. Well, that was the announcement, but as you'll see in the linked press release, it's actually a bit more of a complicated situation than that.

     Thor is being judged unworthy (which has happened before) and the hammer is going to be wielded by someone else (which has also happened before). For a while, a horse alien held Mjolnir. Captain America, Storm, a few artificial life forms, and others have held the hammer in regular continuity. Outside of regular continuity, Superman, Rogue, Wonder Woman, and one of the various Spider-men have held it. Magneto even used it for a while (relying on his magnetic powers rather than being worthy of it). So I want to make it perfectly clear that I'm OK with someone else holding the hammer. I'm even OK with someone else headlining the Thor books. Some of the best stories were told when Hercules was headlining Hulk while he was off-planet being a gladiatorial emperor, and I can't think of something that would be more awesome than Valkyrie carrying around Mjolnir and headlining Thor for a while.

     Marvel's made a lot of (gasp) progressive changes that have resulted in some interesting outcomes. Hispanic Spider-Man over in the Ultimate U. The Fearless Defenders book. Ms Marvel being promoted to Captain Marvel, along with the flightsuit/mohawk look. Countless other little changes and seeds that show they've been playing a long game to make their worlds more diverse and interesting, and I applaud them for it. They've managed to make a lot of little changes that don't feel like “tokens,” telling good stories and making changes in the world that feel natural, all the while DC Comics has been trying to play catch-up and falling flat on their faces. Just like the real world, change is slow, painful, and gradual, but it feels natural when done that way. You can't change a world overnight without the entire thing collapsing.

     So with all of this in mind, I do actually have a problem with Thor being a woman, the way they've framed it. As I understand it, and these are from the words of the creative team, Thor is not turning into a woman. If Thor were turning into a woman, I'd be more OK with this, as he's a demigod. The rules are, always have been, and always should be, unclear on what limitations that can be placed on a demigod's physiology. No, this is a character that is in Thor's life, idolizes him, looks up to him, and when Thor is judged unworthy, he is stripped of his power, his hammer, and his name, and it is given to her instead. In my eyes, this is a total disrespect to both characters. You're taking a character's very birth name from him, the name given him by his mother and father (coincidentally, demigods themselves), and you're giving it to someone else. Not even Loki, who slept with a horse, gave birth to a baby horse, and brought about Ragnarok, ever had his own name taken from him. You're literally taking his identity away.

     And here's the part where I don't understand why more people concerned with diversity are upset. Why Joss Whedon and TheMarySue and all the other female-centric-viewpoint-friendly outlets aren't rioting. You're taking a woman, erasing her previous identity, and giving her a new one, based on an existing character. There was speculation for a bit that a previously existing female character, likely one of Marvel's super-powered blondes, would take over. Honestly, being a fan of both Valkyrie and Ms/Captain Marvel (likely candidates to stand in for Thor, based on appearance and power levels), I am certainly hoping that is not the case. Both of these characters have a pretty rich history and stand on their own merits, and to have all of that taken away from them and just have “THOR” pasted over it would be pretty insulting. There's a lot of really awesome pre-existing female characters in the Marvel U that I'm now worried about, because I want them to keep existing as who they are, and not having the identity of Thor pasted over theirs.

     Of course, this is all speculation. It could be a cynical publicity stunt. It could all be reset to status quo inside of 2 years. It could turn out to be a fantastic story that all makes sense once its taken in context with the events surrounding it. But from the information they've given so far, it's just.. kinda worrying. From some of my previous posts, I've made it clear that I enjoy stories with female protagonists. I've been reading some of Marvel's female characters for close to 20 years now. I want to see more and better things done with them, but one thing I don't want to see is a characterized game of matroyska dolls where someone like Carol Danvers or Emma Frost is swallowed up by another character.

    
Also, why was this announced on The View? Since when was The View considered a source of comic book news?

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