THE MIGHTIEST OF THORS!

KC Carlson. Art by Keith Wilson

KC Carlson. Art by Keith Wilson


A KC COLUMN by KC Carlson

First of all, sorry for my disappearance recently. I’m not sure how people can catch a cold in April, but I managed to do it. (Twice, in fact. Yay.)

The Mighty Thor #1

The Mighty Thor #1


I have to admit up front that I’m writing about something today that I don’t normally like very much. That’s The Mighty Thor. But I thought I should check in, given how many changes have been happening in the book, with more coming, plus a successful movie that helped give new life to that movie franchise. Maybe that’s why I’ve been hearing more about the comic lately.

Walter Simonson's classic cover to Thor #337

Walter Simonson’s classic cover to Thor #337


Ever since I was little, I shied away from the book (and the concept), despite eventually coming to terms with the rest of the Marvel Universe. I’ve really only embraced two runs of the character. The first would be the concept-shattering run by the Mighty Walter Simonson way back when he reset the concepts and (even more importantly) the dynamics of the series and its characters. He really didn’t have to do that much, since the series was initiated by the Mighty Jack Kirby — who, in those days, was pretty much all dynamics! That original was my first appreciation of the demigod.

Unfortunately, the problem with the early Thor series centered around the writing of Stan Lee. He tried hard to make things dynamic and majestic but just couldn’t reign in the silliness that occasionally makes reading the early ‘60s Marvel characters a head-scratching experience. The super-early Thor was more of a traditional superhero comic book, where everything revolved around the secret identity and how (at all costs) it must remain secret.

Thor's first appearance from Journey Into Mystery #83

Thor’s first appearance from Journey Into Mystery #83


Most early Thor stories were Earth-bound, where Doctor Donald Blake was a fairly fragile doctor who needed a cane. (Thor’s Uru hammer also had a secret identity!) His pretty nurse Jane Foster doted on him constantly, until she ultimately got frustrated (and constantly rebuffed) and left his employ. This is about where I lost interest in the series (because Asgard – at least at this point – was never really a draw for me). I paid a bit of attention from afar and got more attached to the Avengers and Amazing Spider-Man instead. But I didn’t miss important stuff either — especially Simonson’s run.

AARON AND DAUTERMAN RESCUES THE THUNDER GOD(S)

Jane Foster takes over as Thor in 2014's Thor #1

Jane Foster takes over as Thor in 2014’s Thor #1


I bring this stuff up because writer Jason Aaron’s current run on the series (with primary artwork by Russell Dauterman and color artist Matthew Wilson) is giving me the same “I really need to read this story” feeling that I got from the original Kirby and Simonson runs. That creative team started setting the stage in the 2014 8-issue Thor series before jumping to The Mighty Thor #1 (dated January 2016), and seemingly ends today (25 April 2018) in The Mighty Thor #706. (The story doesn’t really run for over 700 issues — thanks Marvel Legacy renumbering!  — which Marvel has already abandoned.) This creative team is largely responsible for the two series combining into what is functionally a 38-issue storyline — plus the five-issue The Unworthy Thor side-series. (What a great future Omnibus this will be!)

I pretty much read the whole thing in two days. (Except the last issue, which I’ve had to wait for the longest week ever to arrive.) I can actually feel my head getting ready to explode if I don’t get to read this issue in the next 24 hours!

THE LAST TIME HIS HEAD EXPLODED I HAD TO CLEAN IT ALL UP — AND I DON’T HAVE HANDS!

Calm down, Subhead. I have everything under control. Perhaps a spoiler-free recap is in order:

Journey Into Mystery #84, the first appearance of Jane Foster

Journey Into Mystery #84, the first appearance of Jane Foster


The Mighty Thor in this storyline is Jane Foster, who originally appeared in Journey Into Mystery #84 in 1962 — one issue after Thor/Dr. Donald Blake appeared in JIM #83. (Actually, she’s called “Jane Nelson” in her first two stories. Gotta love early Marvel…) She’s in pretty much every issue of the early Thor series (through issue #136) as the nurse to (and love interest) of her boss, Dr. Blake. When Blake reveals to Jane that he is Thor, the pair incur the wrath of Odin (Thor’s daddy). Later, Odin briefly grants the power of gods to Jane, but she fails a test, so Odin strips her of her powers as well as mind-wiping her so she has no memory of Thor or of her visit to Asgard.

Jane Foster as The Mighty Thor

Jane Foster as The Mighty Thor


When she returns to earth, she meets her new love interest, Dr. Keith Kincaid, who resembles Blake. Eventually the two marry, but not before the merging of life forces and an exile to a pocket dimension. This just gets worse and worse, until she divorces Kincaid and loses custody of their child. She connects with Blake again, and the two open a medical practice together in Broxton, Oklahoma — which just happens to be the site of the resurrected Asgard. Time passes, weird things happen, and eventually Foster is diagnosed with cancer. (But she gets her own comic book!)

Note: I skipped a lot of things regarding Jane’s previous Marvel Comics history. Suffice it to say that Jane Foster is probably one of the most mishandled female characters in comic book history. Jason Aaron has been a miracle worker in reclaiming, rewriting, and revamping the character. Current Thor readers have been amazed at how strong this oft-misused character really is. Hopefully, she will survive the experience somehow. She’s now too good of a character to waste.

The Mighty Thor #706, the conclusion of the Jane Foster storyline

The Mighty Thor #706, the conclusion of the Jane Foster storyline


Too bad that it looks like she’s gonna die anyway…

KC CARLSON SAYS: Jason Aaron hasn’t done a bad job with the male Thor (or Odinson, if you were) either. I kinda like my male Thor a bit out-of-it and somewhat lunkheaded — but really really good with weapons! He (and Odin) have been pompous asses for far too long, so it’s good to finally see somebody like Jane actually showing them both up (despite battling cancer).

Thor #1, the next evolution of Thor by Jason Aaron and Mike Del Mundo

Thor #1, the next evolution of Thor by Jason Aaron and Mike Del Mundo


WESTFIELD COMICS is not responsible for the stupid things that KC says. Especially that thing that really irritated you. I wonder what the next run of Thor that I read will be about. I sure hope it won’t take another 20 or 30 years to grab my interest!

 

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