Let me first say that the title here doesn’t mean the current run of Thor is over. I’m sure the current bearer of Mjolnir will be kicking ass for awhile, a year, maybe two before Marvel’s gimmick has run its course. Anyone that reads comics is used to it, heroes die and come back (Wolverine is already ramping up to a return), they change, grow old, get sent to other dimensions, but in the end things return to the same old ‘safe’ areas that we are all used to. It’s just business, and in the end that’s what comic book companies are out for, money. That’s not a bad thing, as long as they keep making money we keep getting comic books to read. I say the end to an interesting idea, because it’s the end for me, I’m jumping off the train with issue 5. As I’ve said before I don’t care that a woman lifted the hammer, or that they call her Thor, while Thor runs around with a battleaxe and a mechanical arm. I think it’s lazy, to take an established character and change their gender or race to make a point, especially when we all know it’s temporary. There’s nothing brave, or bold about it, but just like killing off Wolverine, or Nightcrawler, or the countless others, it seemed like an interesting story arc so I picked up my first issue of Thor ever when #1 hit.
As far the as series goes, issue 5 hasn’t been my only beef. The art hasn’t been as good as I’d hoped. I’m sure the artist is a talented guy and all, it’s just not my taste. The story is a bit strange, but it’s Thor and has always been a bit over the top. Thor (the original one-armed wonder) is also a little off. I get that he’s brooding, upset he can’t lift the hammer, and going through some personal shit, but I thought he grew up. He’s a bit resentful of someone else bearing the hammer, but what does he expect? I’m also surprised by how they’re writing Odin. For a wise old God, who put the damn words on the hammer himself, he seems to be taking it harder than Thor, not so wise or all-knowing now is he?
Unfortunately, what could have been a great story arc to give another side to our heroes, deliver some interesting mystery, and perhaps set up whoever this woman is for her own solo run under her own title in the future, has just become a soap box to snub the nose of anyone who doesn’t like the idea, justified or not. People have been calling it a bold statement, along with Falcon becoming Captain America, but it’s not. As I said there’s nothing bold about changing the race or gender of an established character for image points. You want a bold statement? Kill Thor for good and make a new hero who is a woman. Kill Captain America for good and bring in a new minority character that’s his own person. Falcon was a perfectly good character, who has essentially been erased to score points with the few, and it boggles the mind how that even scores points. It’s TEMPORARY people! This is Marvel, the company who has killed Jean Grey and brought her back, cloned, from different dimensions and timelines over and over again. You know what would have been a bold statement, if you didn’t want to kill off Thor? Make him fall from grace, no more hammer, no more Thor and make Sif the guardian of Midgard for awhile. Sif is a great character, who already has a following in the books, and from the movies, she’d make a great solo run until Marvel inevitably brings back the original Thor, and it wouldn’t be such a condescending gimmick.
So now we have Thor issue 5, and the strange mixed messages it sends. We have this panel, a fight between a guy who was robbing a place, and Thor in which Creel basically plays a metaphor for all the critics of the female Thor. We got it, people don’t like that you turned a male character into a woman (not literally mind you, there was no sex change for goldilocks), and yes some people did talk almost exactly like this. Keep in mind though, there’s no subtlety here. There’s no nuance, no consideration that people might actually dislike the idea of a female Thor because it’s a condescending attempt to bolster Marvel’s image. Marvel could have avoided that by staying above all the claptrap and arguing. They could have let a female Thor be what a female Thor needed to be, but they turned her into a stereotype, and used her, and this villain as a metaphor for basically beating the shit out of anyone that doesn’t like the idea of her wielding the hammer.
And if you didn’t read the issue and think I’m joking, nope, here she’s literally ending the fight with a jab at how people view modern feminism, oh and as an afterthought, the crimes the guy was just committing. This message, like all the others being made in this recent issue, could have been done with so much more nuance, but this is just so lazy and irritating on so many levels. Does Marvel, and the writing staff on Thor, think so low of their readership that they need to be so blunt? Do they really want the image of their argument to be, if you don’t like a female Thor you deserve to be beaten? I don’t think so but damn people, if the roles had been reversed would this have been tolerated? What would be said if a male hero beat a female villain just because she was insulting his masculinity? Probably would have said things like, he should have been the bigger person, or violence against women is bad, but they certainly wouldn’t have said she deserved it.
And speaking of role reversals, the issue continues with a little domestic violence and what I think it actually an insult to what a woman carrying Mjolnir is trying to do. For a little context, I don’t think violence against female villains and heroes in comic books is in any way similar to violence against real-world women who have not chosen to put their lives on the line to do good or ill for the world. It’s no different than a female soldier, firefighter or police officer, and I really don’t think they’d disagree. That’s why I find this page so insulting on so many levels. See first, the female villain here knocks her husband out…let’s stop there. There’s plenty of cross-gender violence in comics, happens all the time. There’s rarely violence between ‘supers’ who are married. If the roles were reversed here does anyone think this would fly? No, people would be up in arms about domestic violence, but to me that’s silly in either case. They’re both villains, and get beat up for a living, plus, it’s fantasy.
My real problem is with what Titania does next. Basically she won’t fight Thor, and neither will her husband, because Thor’s a woman and the villain respects what she’s doing. If she respected what this Thor was about, refusing to fight because she’s a girl is the LAST DAMN THING that would show any sort of respect. She should fight Thor BECAUSE she’s a woman and trying to prove herself worthy of the hammer, or not fight her because she knows Thor will whoop her ass, not fighting her because Thor’s a girl is just damn insulting in my opinion. Oh, I get what they’re trying to say here, the villain’s a feminist and respects that Thor is trying to be a symbol, so she won’t fight her, but then we’re back to the soapbox which is, frankly, condescending to the readers. We’d get the same point if Titania had said she respects what Thor’s about now, but that’s what they do, villains do bad shit, heroes try to stop them, and let them go at it in a real fight. Instead the villain treated our hero special because she’s a woman, definitely not the expected message, and perhaps not the one they intended, but that’s how it comes across.
So yes, I’m off this ride. Unfortunately I have one more coming because my comic shop orders ahead, so my entire collection of Thor will be made up of 6 issues. I hope to see Marvel do better in the future. To make a real effort to diversify the Marvel universe, with new and interesting characters, with their own identities, not rebranding of characters already established. Give more focus to secondary characters and the like. What Marvel is doing with the new Netflix shows is a start, but again, if you want to expand the universe and make bold statements, actually do it instead of these safe steps into temporary changes that are nothing more than a gimmick that divides the comic fanbase rather than unite us and entertain. At the end of the day that’s exactly what they’ve done, inject more controversy and division into a medium that’s supposed to bring people together. We read comics to get away from politics, ideological BS, and garbage we see on the news. We don’t mind subtle touches on the ills of the world, and how things can be better, but when you hit your readers in the face with stuff that can be found on any Tumblr page, you turn them off rather than make them think.