The Death of The Mighty Thor Part 3
Writer: Jason Aaron
Art: Russell Dauterman
Colors: Matt Wilson
Cover: Russell Dauterman + Matt Wilson
Published: December 20, 2017
There’s a moment in this issue of the Mighty Thor that echoes one of the prevailing sentiments from the recently released, Star Wars: The Last Jedi. At some point during the movie Rose and Finn are having a conversation and Rose says to Finn that the rebellion won’t defeat the Empire by dying for what they believe in, but by preserving the things they love. This theme, and specifically a conversation between Thor and Odinson at the bedside of Volstagg, are the crux of this issue. But before that happens this issue opens on scenes of chaos that are occurring across the nine realms, places where Thor is needed. But where’s Thor, she’s in a bar in Manhattan arm wrestling Hercules in order to secure his help in the escalating war of the realms. This scene and this narrative decision are so this book, and why it is so wonderful. It would have been great to see Thor kicking butt and taking names on any of the various battlefronts, but this issue stepped away from the conflict to allow for some excellent character moments. Thor knows she cannot stop Malekith alone and is willing to ask for help, not a typical Thor move, and so she’s doing that work. Odinson breaks up the feats of strength before a winner can be determined and tells Thor that they need to go see Volstagg. Volstagg is not dead, and neither is Toothknasher, because you know… comics. And while Thor and Odinson have a moment alone he tells her about the coming of the mangog and the judgement of the gods. Thor responds with the typical stuff about fighting together and stopping Malekith, until Odinson reminds her about her own battle. He tells her, “…don’t be afraid to live” which echoes the Lest Jedi scene mentioned at the top. Thor (while not invulnerable) can go indefinitely, but Jane Foster cannot. And because this book has made Jane Foster’s humanity an integral part of her identity as Thor this reminder that she is more than a goddess with a hammer, is impactful. The common notion is that dying for what you believe in, for strongly held principals is one of the most noble things a person can do. And this comic, Odinson, Jason Aaron are not refuting that idea, but reminding us that living for what you believe in is just as difficult. Thor can and has faced everything, but the nine realms need Jane Foster also. They need her to fight for her life just as Thor fights for everyone else’s. It was mentioned in the review of issue #701 that Thor’s humanity might play an important role against the mangog who has come to judge gods, which is perhaps why Odinson reminds Thor that her humanity must be preserved.
Thor throws the hammer out into space where it will wait for her, and Jane Foster and Odinson then go to confront Odin. Odin has been shut in his hall, since Loki stabbed Lady Freja in issue #5. But more than specifically confronting Odin she is confronting the passivity of Asgardia who has not responded to war of the realms. As a crowd gathers in front of her she implores them to be the gods that realms have always believed them to be. As Jane’s speech inspires shout of down with Odin and death the patriarchy, he will have none of that and throws open the doors to confront her. Odin has been annoyed by Jane before and sees this latest provocation as grounds to remove her from Asgardia (and possibly earth) permanently. Odin has never been favorably represented in this series, but his angry, out of touch, ignorant old man status is taken up a notch as he impugns her humanity, assaults her womanhood, and threatens violence. He is stopped only by the awakening of Lady Freja who was awoken by Jane’s words. By her call that the gods to live up to the faith that is placed in them. But as she rallies the Asgardians to Jane’s cause, Jane herself collapses just as the mangog lands on the rainbow bridge. Jane cannot be saved by Thor but must want to save, or allow herself to be saved. Early in this run Jane and Odinson had a discussion about why she will not allow the Asgardian doctors to cure her cancer. Jane’s argument was that allowing this to happen would somehow diminish or cut her off from her humanity, from her impermanence. She understands that mortality is not flaw, but can be a revelatory source of acceptance and maybe what makes her worthy. Perhaps this possibility and the idea of worthiness/godliness/humanity will be revised in the coming issues as the fate of the realms hangs in the balance.
Russel Dauterman and Matt Wilson returned for this issue, and no disrespect to the artists who filled in, but they brought some magic back with them. The opening scene with Thor and Hercules in the bar is wonderful. There’s a shot in the bar that includes some patrons who may be Aaron, Dauterman, and Wilson (I couldn’t entirely confirm this as pictures of them on the internet are scarce). There’s another shot in the bar which sort of focuses on Thor and Hercules’s interlocked hands, and the way Jane’s very muscly arms are depicted is great. The artists don’t, and haven’t ever, stepped back from drawing her with strong arms and legs which (I think) is a real win for better and more realistic depictions of women in comic books, and an accurate representation of how strong Thor would be. But just as they draw her extremely strong and vibrant, when she throws the hammer and transforms back to Jane she is so gaunt and pale. The evidence of her struggle is immediately apparent in her reduced physical state. It’s great to have Dauterman and Wilson back as this arc ramps up for its second half with the threat of the mangog’s judgement imminent.
(Subjective) Score out of 10: 9