Marvel Comics today announced that a new Thor book will be launching in October, with a twist -- the title character will be a woman, a whole separate character wielding the name, power, and gear, as the original is deemed to no longer be worthy.
The announcement was made on The View [ABC! Disney! Corporate synergy!], as well as through press releases. The series is set to be written by Jason Aaron with Russell Dauterman on the art duties.
The move is definitively aimed at capturing more female readers. Per the press release:
“THOR is the latest in the ever-growing and long list of female-centric titles that continues to invite new readers into the Marvel Universe. This female THOR is the 8th title to feature a lead female protagonist and aims to speak directly to an audience that long was not the target for Super Hero comic books in America: women and girls.”
While we’d posit that Jason Aaron developing a brand-new heroine for Marvel Comics from whole cloth may have been a better move to address the gender gap from a story and character standpoint — versus merely shifting the job/title/helmet/hammer of Thor to a woman — that announcement’s reach would admittedly have been far more limited. Less buzzy than using a popular movie protagonist. Less worthy of Whoopi Goldberg’s commentary on The View, and, therefore, reaching far fewer eyeballs and ears. Likely generating far less discussion.
While the gender change and, to a lesser extent, the mantle switch are the keys to this crazy hype, the key to the book’s success will be to transcend that window dressing and tell a damn good story. Aaron is a fantastic writer, and Dauterman’s art is lovely (see attached images, above and below). Accordingly, that should be a distinct possibility.
Also, there are definitely precedents within Marvel Comics that this move is invoking or perhaps piggybacking on. The Thor mythos have a history of gender shifts. Loki was a woman for a time, and in Jim Kruger and Alex Ross’ Earth X, Thor of the future was a woman (having been transformed by Odin as a “lesson in humility” — um, what?). And others have wielded Thor’s hammer, Mjölnir — most notably fan-favorite Beta Ray Bill, the orange, horse-faced alien, as well as the ’90s replacement Thor, Eric Masterson, who eventually became his own hero, Thunderstrike (for better or for worse).
While, again, we believe that comics are better served by creating original properties rather than switching hats to address gender and even race disparities, ultimately, we’ll agree with comic writer Ron Marz’s tweet on the matter:
Crazy thought for the day: I'll let you know what I think about Lady Thor once I actually read the comic.
— Ron Marz (@ronmarz) July 15, 2014
Spoken like a guy who’s written about new a new hero taking up the former one’s mantle, eh?
Images: Courtesy Marvel Comics