If She Be Worthy: Marvel’s New Thor

Thor #1 Cover

The Mighty Thor, one of Marvel’s best known characters, is immensely strong, brings an ancient chivalry to the Avengers, and wields a mythical hammer. Based on the Norse God of the same name, Thor is the embodiment of a warrior, a “man’s man” if you will. We all know what he looks like.

old thor
Character sketch by Russell Dauterman

Or do we?

As announced back in July, Marvel has taken the story of Thor and turned it upside down in the new Thor #1. To the surprise of many, Thor is now a woman. The new comic was released on October 1st, and of course I immediately downloaded it on the Marvel App to see what author Jason Aaron and artist Russell Dauterman had done to my favorite Avenger. As a woman invested in equality, I was particularly intrigued to see their treatment of a female superhero who is best known the world over for being a man.

Spoilers ahead!

In Thor #1, we encounter a saddened, bewildered, grieving Thor Odinson. The hammer Mjölnir is stranded on the moon, unable to be lifted by its former master (something was whispered to Thor by Nick Fury in “Original Sin” and he has been unable to pick up the hammer since). Freyja and Odin come with their host to see what has befallen their son, and the reader senses tensions between them. During Odin’s absence, Freyja has become the All-Mother, ruling Asgard in his stead. Odin is angered by events that occurred during her reign, and infers that the problems happened because an All-Father is more capable and powerful than an All-Mother.

The queen is not bothered by her husband’s comments, and proceeds to encourage Thor. “Worthiness should not be defined by the whims of magic,” she says. “Rise, my son, and let the hammer be damned. Rise and remember the hero that you are.”

Bolstered by her motivating words, Thor leaves the moon to go fight a group of Frost Giants who are destroying an underwater station on Midgard in search of an unknown artifact. Thor encounters the villainous Malekith, and finds that he cannot face the Dark Elf properly without the help of Mjölnir. The last we see of our famed male hero is a disembodied arm.

Back on the moon, now seemingly deserted save for the hammer, we encounter a female stranger. “There must always be a Thor,” she proclaims just before reaching down to grasp Mjölnir’s handle. The magical inscription, which has previously read “Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor” suddenly shimmers, and changes to “if SHE be worthy,” Our mystery woman, who is masked, lifts the hammer high—we have a new hero.

new thor
Character sketch by Russell Dauterman

Though the first issue is short, we can learn an incredible amount about our new heroine. She is only on two pages, and we haven’t even seen her face—however, we can guess a great deal about her character and various gender role issues that will be addressed based on the conversation between Odin and Freyja. In the first part of the issue, Odin blames Thor’s predicament on his wife: “I suppose you would have me coddle the boy, Freyja, as you have done. This is what happens when an All-Mother is left in charge of Asgard.” A few pages later, when the host receives the word that the Frost Giants have attacked, Odin verbally attacks his queen again after she infers that she is the liege lord of Asgard: “Odin has returned, woman. There is no more need for an All-Mother.” She replies calmly that perhaps there is more need than ever. This angers Odin further, and once Thor has left for Earth, he attempts to put her in her place, calling her reign a “fleeting age,” insisting that Asgard will return to its rightful place—”with Odin alone above all.”

The strife between Odin and Freyja has set the scene for the type of world our new heroine will inhabit. In Norse mythology, as well as the Marvel universe, women warriors are commonplace—and yet, characters such as Odin feel threatened by them. I can’t help but wonder if the sudden appearance of the new Thor is thanks to Freyja; and if it isn’t, how will the two of them interact together in an ever evolving society that Odin is determined to “fix” by becoming the sole power? There will undoubtedly be discord between Odin and the masked woman, not only because she has taken the hammer that once belonged to his son, but because she is female. Thor will change the dynamics of Odin’s reality, and in the process alter what it means to be a worthy hero.

We are, of course, left with a bevy of other questions that will hopefully become clear soon. Is the “old” Thor dead, or will he continue to be part of the Marvel Universe? Is the new Thor someone we already know? (My money is on Roz Solomon or Lady Sif.) Will she become part of the Avengers? Luckily we have a few hints to some of the answers thanks to a recent interview with Jason Aaron:

Has Thor been transformed? Or has another character received Thor’s powers? 
The latter. This is not the Thor we knew transformed into a woman. This is a new character; someone else picking up the hammer.
Is this new Thor a character we’ve met already? Or is she a character we’ll meet very soon? 
I’m not going to reveal who’s behind the mask of this new Thor, but if you look back over “Thor: God of Thunder” you’ll find quite a few suspects. We’ve had quite a few female characters who have played quite big roles in the series so far. We also have a few more who will be playing roles in the new series. So if you’re looking for suspects we have quite a few of them.
Will [old Thor] still very much be a part of this new book? 
Yes, Thor Odinson, the Prince of Asgard, will still be around. He’s still Thor. That’s his birth name. He’s unworthy of Mjolnir, but he’ll still have a role to play. If you’ve seen the cover of one of Jonathan Hickman’s upcoming “Avengers” issues where it flashes forward into the future you see what appears to be Thor holding his axe, Jarnbjorn.

Regardless of who is behind the winged mask, I am on the edge of my seat to see what Marvel will do with this marvelous opportunity to tackle gender stereotypes.

Until next time!

The Collected Mutineer

Have a theory about Thor’s identity behind the mask? Hit me up @ImpalaMutineers.