The Death of the Mighty Thor Part 5
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Russell Dauterman
Colors: Matthew Wilson
Cover: Russell Dauterman + Matthew Wilson
Published: February 21, 2018
The history of all things, or of a single human, is understand in a linear fashion. As a thing that started and and then proceeded in some sort of ‘direct’ fashion to an end point. But human experience (both my own and that of many others) is that life is more repetitive, doubling back on itself, forming loops, and perhaps even ending in a similar fashion to the way it began. In issue #704 of The Mighty Thor, we see that the repetitive moments in Jane Foster’s life have revolved around loss. The loss of her mother, her father, and of her son, but (I think it’s fair to say) those moments have not brought her down. The issue starts in the past with a woman who looks almost exactly like Jane Foster does currently (part of why it is so impactful) speaking to a young girl about faith. It turns out to be Jane’s mother lying in a hospital bed dying of cancer, and wishing that she could leave young Jane with something to believe, something to comfort her after she is gone. Cut to now as Jane reminisces on that moment, grateful for the comfort that her mother wanted her to find, but knowing that religion (not necessarily faith) probably wasn’t for her. She thinks that it might have been false to turn to higher powers, only in a moment of tragedy or weakness. If you aren’t raised going to church or in a religious environment, and even if you are, its often the most difficult moments in a persons life that have them seeking for something to believe or looking for the faith they used to have, someone to tell them that it/life has meaning. But where are the stories of the person for whom everything is going well, who feels entirely fulfilled, and at that moment desperately seeks god? This isn’t to imply in any way that there is a wrong to time to find something to believe, but this is the a similar question to the one Jane has. She searched and didn’t find something out there to put her faith in. Instead she became someone that could support the faith of others when they needed something to believe.
We only get a glimpse from the from each of the three previously mentioned moments in Jane’s life, but her response is always (mostly) measured and internal. There isn’t external rage or hysteria, sadness yes, but not blame. After she loses her son in the car accident Thor finds Jane outside in the rain and the most damning thing she can say is to ask why the gods, who live to meddle in the lives of humans, couldn’t have prevented this? It’s a reasonable question, but instead of waiting for a response from speechless Thor Jane wonders aloud, “Where was I?” With this question she is pulling back whatever anger and hate she wanted to direct outwards and considering her responsibility in what happened. As she walks away from him, she tells her mother, “The gods don’t believe in us. And I can’t blame them.” Does, Jane wonders, does humanity deserve the attention of the gods?
The thread running through much of Jane’s time as Thor has been that the gods’ actions, their character does not justify the faith that humanity has placed in them. This is what has set Jane Foster/ Thor apart from the rest. She respects her station as the god of thunder, and the seeds of her motivation are scattered throughout this issue. In those three scenes specifically, but also in her decision to pick up the hammer one last time. Agent Roz and Sam Wilson are nearby to keep her company (as well as a large dog named Thori whose job it is to keep away all hammers) while the words of Dr. Strange ring in her head, but Jane cannot ignore what is happening on Asgardia. Jane will die as she lived, with faith in herself and the courage to do what she believes is right. There are a couple different moments in both the present day and flashbacks where Jane apologizes to her mother for not finding a tradition or religion to believe in, but maybe that’s because Jane always believed in herself. When she wonders if humans deserve the attention of gods or when she picks up the hammer for the final time, it is not out of some sort of nihilism, but because of a fierce belief in humanity. Jane didn’t need religion or the gods to convince her that human life is inherently valuable. She believed this as she lived and she continues to have faith in humanity as she prepares for her final confrontation.
The other setting for this issue is Asgardia where Odinson, Odin, and Lady Freja are failing to keep the Mangog at bay. The fight takes them all over Asgardia, but they end up at the end of the rainbow bridge where the mangog breaks the bifrost machine that allows the gods to leave and enter the realm. This sends Asgardia hurtling towards the sun, and without the means to change course. As the fight progresses, Loki appears to Lady Freja and asks her to leave with him in order to save her. This is his first return to Asgardia since he stabbed Lady Freja about twenty issues ago. He tries to tell her that this was done because Malekith had marked her, knowing that she posed a greater threat than Odin to his plans to sow chaos across the nine realms. Despite his intentions Lady Freja’s trust in Loki is broken and perhaps his final ties to Asgardia are severed. It’s a very quiet moment among so much chaos that reveals the smaller costs of Malekith’s war. When Loki leaves, Lady Freja joins Odin and Odinson in their fight to no avail. In the final pages Jane (alone in her hospital room) picks up her medical records, a sort of acknowledgment of the terminal nature of her situation, as the hammer appears outside the window. As she grabs it for the last time the dog Thori appears at the door and asks, “Why you murder self?” It’s a difficult but honest question as this is the end of Jane Foster’s life on earth, but this is not Jane forsaking her life. This (and allow me to editorializing a little) is sort of the final confirming act of her ethos, to protect others as long as she has the strength, and to validate the belief that others have placed in her. It’s her choosing to die as she lived.
Russell Dauterman’s and Matthew Wilson’s contribution to developing the emotion in this issue cannot be overstated. What they capture in some of the faces in this issues is absolutely amazing. Jane’s face after she learns about her Dad, or in the rain as she learns about her son. There is something intangible, yet deeply human and relatable that is happing in those panels that is communicating much more than just the words on the page. In the panel where Loki says goodbye to Lady Freja, there is so much going on in just his eyes that betray a braking heart behind a firm demeanor. They even sneak a little bit of fun into this issue with the way they drawn Thori as an oversized dog with fire coming out of his nose who chases down a poor handyman who is unfortunatley holding a hammer. It gets mentioned for every issue, but their contribution to this book cannot be overstated, and it’s will be very exciting to see what fantastic things they have in story for the final two issues.*
*Issue #705 and #706 will be the last two issues of the Mighty Thor, as the Odinson returns to his former position with the Jason Aaron penned Thor #1 released on 6/13/18. Jane Foster’s story will continue for one issue in, The Mighty Thor: At the Gate of Valhalla.
(Subjective) Score out of 10: 8