In July of last year, Marvel fans got some surprising news about their favorite hammer-wielding Norse God of Thunder: he would be giving up the mantle of Thor to a new character, a woman. Starting with Thor #1 in October, many readers have gotten to know the new Thor through a new monthly comic book series, though her identity has remained a mystery. Thor #7, coming out next week (April 15) is supposed to set the stage for a dramatic reveal in Thor #8 (May). Here’s what you need to know to get caught up.
What Happened to the old Thor?
Thor draws much of his strength from Mjolnir, a mystic hammer imbued with great power by his father, Odin. The inscription on the hammer reads, “Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.” During a recent battle, something is whispered in Thor’s ear that makes him unworthy of Mjolnir, and he can no longer lift it. When frost giants invade Earth, Odin’s son rushes into battle without his hammer and loses his arm as well.
At the end of the first issue, we see that someone else is worthy of Mjolnir’s power, and a new Thor is born.
The New Thor Proves Herself Worthy
Although Mjolnir deems her worthy of Thor’s power, she has to constantly prove it: to enemies who don’t take her seriously, to allies who are skeptical, and to overcome her own internal doubts. Writer Jason Aaron explores what would happen if an ordinary person with strong character suddenly gains the power of a God in a world where women still struggle for the respect they deserve, and there are plenty of great scenes that bring this through.
In Issue #4, the hammer-less, arm-less son of Odin finally confronts the new woman wielding Mjolnir. He’s angry at first, believing that some imposter has tricked his hammer into obeying her. But he is won over when he sees how well she is able to wield Mjolnir, doing things with the hammer he never could. Taking the name Odinson, he insists that although he doesn’t know her identity, Mjolnir’s new partner be called Thor.
After saving the Avengers from the frost giant invasion, Thor begins the next issue fighting a classic enemy: the Absorbing Man, who can absorb the power of anything he comes in contact with (like Mjolnir). Jason Aaron uses the fight scene as an opportunity to play out some of the criticisms he’s undoubtedly heard from fans as the chauvinistic Absorbing Man questions how Thor can replace “one of the last manly dudes left.” Thor answers him by breaking his jaw with her bare hands, while thinking, “that’s for saying ‘feminist’ like its a four letter word, creep.”
Thor makes it clear that she’ll be handling her new powers and responsibility her own way, while maintaining the confident badassery we’ve come to expect from anyone wielding Mjolnir. In Thor: Annual #1, one of the three collected stories shows Thor choosing to accept a challenge from Odinson’s fastest Asgardian companions, the Warriors Three, to prove her might by completing three quests that her predecessor had undertaken. The second of these is to steal locks of hair from a sleeping Elf Queen, something that Odinson had done only at the cost of his beard by angering the queen. Thor approaches the task diplomatically: she awakens the queen and is given the locks of hair voluntarily.
Thor #6 ends with our hero facing two separate threats, one from earth and one from Asgard. On Earth, she seeks to defeat a villain who always eluded Odinson: Dario Agger, an evil CEO of the polluting conglomerate Roxxon Industries who also has the power to turn into a Minotaur and has allied himself with the dark elf Malekith. From Asgard, she has to contend with Odin, who is furious that he cannot control the new Thor and unleashes a deadly weapon against her.
The new Thor has proven herself worthy not just to the other characters within the pages of her comic book series, but also to countless fans, retailers, and to her publisher. Sales figures for the first five issues of Thor are solidly outpacing those of the previous series featuring Odinson. If you haven’t had a chance to check it out for yourself, you really should: Issue #7 comes out on April 15.
Thor fans, let us know in the comments below: what do you like most about the new Thor?