Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Thor Question

A few months ago, I spoke at some length about how I wasn't terribly pleased with the news that Marvel had decided to 'make Thor a woman' and my reasons for feeling this way. I think I was rather rational about it, and it turns out that some of my concerns may have been alleviated, but some may still remain.

I encourage the reader to look back on that article, as it's relevant today when we take a look at the major factor that I could not, at the time, cover: Will it be any good?

Three months or so have passed since the book launched, and three issues have been released that I've been able to obtain and read. To summarize what's happened, during a battle on the moon, Nick Fury (who'd recently stolen the secrets of Uatu the Watcher) whispered something in Thor's ear that stopped him in his tracks and made him drop his hammer. Thor had been on the moon , basically sulking and trying to lift Mjolnir unsuccessfully. Becoming broody and unresponsive, his mother Frigga (filling in for Odin) is naturally concerned for him, and Odin himself returns and attempts to lift the hammer, failing in this as well.

The Asgardians finally leave the moon at the end of the first issue, and an unidentified woman approaches the hammer, says to herself that there must always be a Thor, and lifts it easily, empowering her with Thor's abilities and covering her in Thor-esque armour. About this time, Malekith (disappointingly looking nothing like Christopher Eccleston) launches an attack on an undersea research base owned by Marvel corporation Roxxon with a legion of Frost Giants after beating up a Mjolnir-less Thor, chopping his arm off, and wearing it as a scarf for the next few issues. The woman now wielding the hammer returns to Earth and attacks the Frost Giants as they make their way up from the ocean floor to a floating Roxxon base. 

Sir Not Appearing In This Book
 So the questions are: Have my concerns been laid to rest and, more importantly, is it any good?

To the first: Not completely. I will say that in three issues so far, she has not once referred to herself as Thor, and no one has positively identified her AS Thor. As I explained previously, I'm perfectly OK with Thor being somehow deemed not worthy to hold the hammer, and if anyone could convince him that he's not it's Nick Fury (with or without Watcher knowledge). I'm still not sure why Odin of all people can't lift it, and that had better be explained as well, as he's the one that enchanted Mjolnir to begin with. What I wouldn't be ok with is literally calling this woman Thor, as she's clearly not. Thor is the man's (god's?) name. It's not a title or an office like “Captain America” or “Iron Man.” You don't put James Rhodes in an Iron Man suit and call him Tony Stark, you call him War Machine. You don't give Bucky Barnes the Red/White/Blue and call him Steve Rogers, you call him Captain America. I'm perfectly ok with either a) turning Thor into a woman or b) giving the status of God(dess) of Thunder to another person, but you don't just give someone's name away. It's a bit disrespectful, and so far that hasn't happened, but I hear in a future issue it might. As an addendum to the points I've made previously, I'm perfectly fine with a woman taking over a traditionally male character, if it's done right. Renee Montoya's been one of my favorite supporting Batman characters, and when she took over the role of The Question, I was thrilled. DC did not disappoint there. But we didn't start calling her Vic Sage. She was still Renee Montoya, just in The Question's mask/suit. 

Seriously, go read Crime Bible: Five Lessons In Blood. DC can do diversity well.
As for the Goddess of Thunder's identity.. that's still not been revealed. I can tell, through dialogue, that it's not one of my top three picks for female replacements for Thor, though. There's an internal monologue portrayed through thought bubbles that this woman is clearly not used to having superpowers, which rules out Valkyrie, Carol Danvers (Ms/Captain Marvel), and Angela, and a scene in which she's isolated from the hammer briefly and starts to lose her powers confirms this. And as for that dialogue.. it's very cringey. It honestly feels like they're half-assing Spider-man's insecure internal monologueing for whoever this is, and it makes the character feel a little unlikeable.

In short, the book's a bit dull, and it feels like it's riding off the mystery and controversy of a female Thor without actually bringing a good story, and that's kind of disappointing. As much as I was dead-set against what Marvel seemed to be doing, I was still holding out hope they'd surprise me. So far, I haven't been. So far I've been kinda bored, but I'm going to stick around and see how it turns out. Avengers: Age of Ultron is only a few months out now, and I'm going to be very cross if they dump this and go back to Thor Thor after such a lackluster performance.

Besides, we've already had a proper female Thor. And she was a goddess to begin with.
I think it's telling that, for a review of this book, I've spent so little time actually talking about what happens in this book. I'm hoping it picks up soon, because it's got a lot of ground to cover before AoU comes out.

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