Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Reader's Diary #1204- Jason Aaron (Writer) and Russell Dauterman, Jorge Molina (Illustrators): Thor, The Goddess of Thunder

At the beginning of Jason Aaron's Thor: The Goddess of Thunder the original Thor is devastated. He is no longer worthy to hold Mjolnir, the magic hammer. What has he done that has been so terrible? Or perhaps, what has he thought?

We don't know. All it took was a whisper from former SHIELD director Nick Fury to render Thor unable to lift his tool. Hmm. That came out wrong. In any case, we still don't know what Fury said.

Knowing that there's been more Thor, Goddess of Thunder comics published since this volume, I went to the internet in the hopes to find out and was led to Reddit. My first mistake. It turns out that the writers are yet to reveal Fury's impotence-inducing whisper, but oh, those clever Redditors had a few theories. Not surprisingly, many ran with the theme, "Pssst, Marvel needs more diversity."

And of course, that's said with disdain, as if Marvel doesn't need more diversity. Perhaps in response to such critics, Aaron not-so-subtly takes them on right there in the pages of his comic. Thor, the new Thor that is, finds herself fighting a particularly chauvinistic villain named Creel who objects to this female version. "Damn feminists are ruining everything!" he rants, "You wanna be a chick super hero? Fine, who the hell cares? But get your own identity."

Well, let's just back up a second. In pure internet fashion (says John over the internet), this argument has gotten too simplified and shouty in a hurry. There's nothing wrong with Marvel trying to increase their diversity. Hell, it's about time. But on the other hand, I'm sure not everyone who objects to this new Thor is a misogynistic pig either. Sometimes people just dislike change. Ask the 2nd Darrin (Bewitched) or the 2nd Aunt Viv (Fresh Prince), ask Sammy Hagar or the guys from Kiss who replaced Peter Criss and Ace Frehley. Some superheroes have typically changed identities a lot (Ant Man and Green Lantern come to mind), while others, like Thor, haven't. People have gotten used to him.

As for Creel's "Get your own identity" well, I have to say, it hasn't seemed like the most empowering of approaches to simply take a male superhero and create a female version. Aaron pats himself on the back on a couple of occasions in this book for not referring to her as She-Thor, or Thorina, or some feminized version, but arguably, this is just moderately better. I do like when there's a new female character started from scratch (Hi Squirrel Girl! Hi Equinox!) rather than from Adam's rib.

Fortunately it's easy to put the politics aside when the writing is good. And when Aaron isn't trying to push an agenda, it is good. Basically, it's an origin story, and I love origin stories. Someone unused to new powers struggles their way through it, the realizations about responsibilities and so on. Plus, being Marvel, there's humour (the hammer, much to her chagrin, also makes her talk more pompous). Not having read Thor comics before, I was also interested in all the Norse mythology.

Dauterman and Molina's art is serviceable, which I feel like I've been saying a lot about superhero comics lately. I mean it's good and all, but it just doesn't stand out. Look at the recent Hawkeye series, all superhero comics don't need to look alike! All that one had to do was use a limited colour scheme and bam, it stood out. Not that I'd want everyone to suddenly do that either, but I'd just like my comic book art to be as memorable.


Barbara Bruederlin said...

Is the hammer necessary for the superfolks to do their deeds? Or is it just for hurling at woodpeckers (which is what I would do if I was suddenly named She-Thor)?
Obviously I need to get up to speed on my comic books.

John Mutford said...

Barbara: To do their jobs effectively it is, or it would seem anyway. The original Thor still has some superpowers without the hammer, but promptly winds up getting his arm cut off. That wouldn't have happened with his hammer. (Marvel has a thing with characters getting an arm cut off, by the way.) The hammer could be used for hurling at woodpeckers, but I suspect that Nick Fury whispered something about that. "You missed that woodpecker, and now all the woodpeckers are laughing at you." Plus, if truth be known, Mjolnir is as effective from a Mastercraft hammer from Sears when it comes to knocking down woodpeckers (i.e., not at all).