Jane Foster, The Mighty Thor - A True Hero
I've been wanting to write this blog ever since I read issue #705 of Mighty Thor. Also, as Women's History Month wrapping up, it seemed apropos to talk about one of the best women superheroes around.
Before I start this, spoilers abound. So proceed as cautioned.
For the last several months, the series has been engaged in a storyline called "The Death of Mighty Thor." I have enjoyed the story thus far, but this issue literally had me in tears. I am an emotional person, but I admittedly don't get as emotional reading a comic. I feel the excitement, but never have had such a visceral reaction inducing tears. The script by Jason Aaron and art by Russell Dauterman were just beautiful and it played out like a movie in my mind.
For those of you not reading the title, for the last few years, the mantle of Thor has been carried by a woman - Jane Foster, who has often been a love interest of Thor Odinson. She is a character that has been intertwined with Thor since his comic book introduction in Journey Into Mystery #84 in 1962. In the 2014 comic book event Original Sin, Thor was no longer able to wield his hammer Mjolnir after something was whispered to him by Nick Fury. Soon after, a mysterious woman appeared taking the name of Thor and holding Mjolnir. Marvel then proclaimed her to be THE Thor. It was at this point that a segment of fandom lost its mind - the sadly sexist variety who can't stand diversity in comics. And nobody knew what to call her with some either calling her Lady Thor or Thor Girl. She was none of those. She was Thor.
Anyway, as mentioned, the mysterious woman in question was Jane Foster. And, anyone, such as myself, who continued reading the story, came to understand why she was worthy of wielding Mjolnir. In Unworthy Thor #5 (The series that revolved around the Odinson), it is revealed why Thor became unworthy. Apparently, Nick Fury whispered "Gorr was right." This is in reference to a story in which Gorr The God Butcher was hunting down the gods because he felt none of them were worthy of being worshiped. Thor says, "Gods...are vain and vengeful creatures. Always have been. The mortals who worshiped us for centuries...would all be better off without us."
If the gods were unworthy, Jane Foster was not. Every moment she wielded Mjolnir, she proved herself worthy. She had always been about selflessness. First of all, she was dying from cancer. And the thing was that every time she transformed into Thor, she would get worse. But, the call was too strong for her. She needed to...she wanted to help. She was also a member of the Avengers.
She comes from a place of compassion and love which, to me, are the feminist virtues that make Wonder Woman who she is. There is a story from the Secret Empire comic book event in which an alternate Steve Rogers who is the head of Hydra is able to take hold of Mjolnir and sends Thor to another dimension. Although she is without her hammer, because of her compassion for the people of this dimension and wanting to help them, she fights their god and is able to dig within to find her thunder.
In another storyline, "The Asgard/Shi'ar War," Thor is teleported to M'Kraan Palace, home of Sharra and K'ythri, gods of the Shi'ar Empire. They wanted to see who is superior. The points were based on prayers of worship. During the course of the challenge, Thor was bewildered that these gods would indiscriminately cause destruction for its people to get points. But Thor risked her wins in the challenges because of her compassion for the people these gods purported to represent. Gorr was right.
In this final storyline "The Death of Mighty Thor," we see Thor wanting to protect all of Asgardia and the Nine Realms from a threat named Mangog the God Killer (apparently, there are a lot going around). Mangog, like Gorr, finds the gods to be unworthy of their worship. He wreaks havoc all over and the gods don't seem to be prepared. They are unappreciative of Thor's continuous need to protect them, despite knowing that she will die soon only to be accelerated every time she turns into Thor.
In the final battle, as the Asgardians flee and Odin's lack of caring for Thor, she comes up with a plan to get rid of Mangog all together. She chains him with the best chains forged by the dwarves of Nidavellir and uses Mjolnir to send him to the sun. Without Mjolnir, she transforms back into Jane Foster for the last time. Jane Foster is dead. There is a beautiful scene where Odinson tries to rescue her and feels helpless knowing she sentenced herself to death.
Now, the story isn't completely over and, this being comics, anything can happen, but, if this is truly the end, it was a fitting ending. Jane Foster may not of been born a god, but she was worthy of being one.
But this also goes to show that it is okay to shake up the major characters once in awhile. We are dealing with over 75 years of storytelling, people need to be willing to embrace newness. Otherwise it ends up being the same. New characters need to be introduced and need the attention by taking over a major title for awhile. Anybody who says Jane Foster as Thor was an unnecessary bow to diversity did not read this comic. If you actually don't shut it down with your prejudices, you might even read a great story and the development of a great character.
Whatever Jane Foster's fate, I, for one, am glad to have known her as Thor.