The Death of the Mighty Thor Part 6
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Russell Dauterman
Colors: Matt Wilson
Cover: Russell Dauterman + Matt Wilson
Published: March 21, 2018
Would it have been better for Jane Foster if she never picked up the hammer? It’s undoubtedly too late to ask this question twenty some odd issues (twenty-nine to be exact) into the series and after having read the final issue of an arc called “The Death of the Mighty Thor.” But this is the question posed by Heimdall in the opening pages when he says to Jane “May the gods be with you. Though perhaps you would’ve been far better off if they never had been.” While not stated in so many words, Jane too has entertained what would have happened if she never picked up the hammer, declaring in the previous issue as she looked the purple veins pumping blood underneath her pale skin, “I would’ve beaten you, you little cancerous sons of bitches.” This isn’t stated in anger or resentment, but just kind of objectively. She would have beaten the cancer if the circumstances of the moment did not require something more from her. In the very next panel after she says that she would’ve beaten the cancer the hammer appears outside her window and Jane did not hesitate to grab it for the last time. But maybe (probably) the most difficult thing Jane did was picking up the hammer for the first time, as we see in the first couple of pages. This isn’t to say that Jane’s death was a foregone conclusion but it was in that moment, when she was at her weakest, that the most (the most strength, the most sacrifice, the most selfless act, fill in whatever you want) was required of her. The mangog is pretty scary too though.
After the opening pages depicting Jane’s first moments as Thor, the action cuts to the present and she is just absolutely walloping the mangog in the face. Throughout it’s run this comic has never shied away from depicting just the raw power that Thor posses and this scene is a particularly good example of what she is capable of, especially compared to Odin and Odinson who struggled in the last issue. The mangog is sent flying into a golden statue which melts and solidifies over it. This provides enough time for Odin (who continues to be a cranky old man), Odinson, and Lady Freja to show up. Odinson is horrified to see Thor there, knowing the implications of her presence, but the moment cannot last as the mangog begins to stir. Thor convinces the three of them to take the remaining gods and abandon Asgardia leaving her to fight the mangog. What plays out over the next couple of pages is as much a physical confrontation as it is a metaphorical one. The mangog appeals to her apathy and despair, insisting that shortcomings of the gods have reduced her existence, and for that they deserve death. But Jane Foster/Thor will not be diminished by external forces, not death, or loss, or spiteful old men, or monsters. As the mangog attempts to crush her under its heel, screaming about whether she is ready to die for the gods, she tells it what she would die for, “I die for love mangog.” But its not that she is willing to die for love but that she lived for it as well. The main image over this declaration doesn’t depict the actions of Thor, but the Life of Jane Foster. There are moments of joy, and happiness, empowerment and contentment, some of the most wonderful aspects of what life can offer and the possibility of which she wants to preserve for others. She picked up the hammer becasue she valued life and wanted to protect it, not becasue she wanted hers to end. In a burst of energy Thor manages to Throw the mangog into the sun, but it doesn’t exactly stick, and the mangog comes roaring back, scattering the Asgardian ships that were escaping towards the moon. Realizing that to continue fighting the mangog is futile, Thor wraps the mangog in dwarven forged chains, attaches them to Mjolnir, and throws the hammer into the sun, ending it and the mangog for good. This moment, letting the hammer go forever, is Jane’s final act of the god of thunder. Her and the Odinson, who got knocked back towards the battle by the mangog, share a final moment before Jane Foster dies in his arms.
The phrasing of Jane’s final moments with the hammer are important. While she does physically throw it at the sun, metaphorically its more of a letting go. There’s a difference between her throwing it away and her letting it go, in the same way there is a difference between giving up and passing on. The penultimate scene from The Return of the King always springs to mind in these moments. Frodo has not given up on the Shire or Middle-Earth, but has done what was asked of him, and his time in this place has come to an end. Jane picked up the hammer because the nine realms needed her to defend them, and she let it go for the same reason. In the final scene Odinson returns to the remaining Asgardians gathered on the moon, with Jane Fosters body.
There is some brilliant art in this issue with one of the highlights being that sort reflection of Jane Foster’s life. It is a simple line drawing on a light blue background that contains so much detail and is such a beautiful representation of the light in her life. The other thing to mention is just how powerful Thor is in this issue. One specific moment is just before she lets go of her hammer for the final time. Their is no fear or timidity in her posture or action. She is standing there wearing the effects of tough battle, but in no way diminished. It’s a great moment and just speaks to how wonderful Russell Dauterman and Matt Wilson’s depiction of Thor has been through this entire run. This moment (and issue as a whole) is a difficult end for a character who was so full of life, who was strong and compassionate, and put others before herself. There will be more time to reflect on Jane’s passing in the coming two issues. but for right now, goodbye Dr. Foster and may you find peace.
(Subjective) Score out of 10: 8