Today, Michael and Taylor are discussing Thor 5, originally released February 11th, 2015.
“Do not just be worthy of the hammer. You are not the first to wield it, and no matter your fate, you will not be the last. Be worthy of the name.”
Lady Freyja, Thor 5
Michael: Change is constant in mainstream comics; but equally constant is the reversion of those changes back to the status quo. Bruce Wayne may step down from the role of Batman but he will always return to put the cowl on again. Steve Rogers may get old or die but he will always be back to don the Captain America shield once more. Heroes die, heroes return; the more things change, the more they stay the same. Part of the reason is that figures like Superman, Batman and Spider-Man are cultural icons. Even if Miles Morales is now the Ultimate Spider-Man, Peter Parker will always be the original. More to the point, we as a culture are reluctant to change — and especially venturing outside of our comfort zones.
Thor 5 serves as an interlude of sorts from Jason Aaron’s first arc with the new female Thor. We see Thor become more comfortable in her role as the Goddess of Thunder, taking down C-listers like Crusher Creel and Titania in Manhattan and more frequently implementing “Thor-speak.” Meanwhile, Odin is going a little mad at the prospect of this mysterious outsider usurping the role of Thor. He’s gotten so desperate that he’s enlisted the help of his brother “The Serpent” (Remember Fear Itself? Remember that was a thing?) The former Thor — Odinson — is also trying to uncover the identity of the new Thor, though in a less power-mad way than his father.
For Thor readers and characters, a lot of the conversation about the new Thor has been about the fact that she is a woman. At times it feels like this conversation is hijacking the larger story that Jason Aaron has planned, but it’s still a necessary conversation. Odin is the voice box for the establishment; it does help that he’s an ancient white dude in a position of power as a coincidence. Like many comic book fans, Odin is not pleased that the hammer and the mantle of Thor are now in the position of this “thieving sorceress.” Since Thor 1, Odin has been in the process of returning things “back to normal.” He’s ousted Freyja from her “All-Mother” role and now he’s on the hunt to take Mjolnir back from the new Thor. Odin is every old man standing in the way of progress; not entirely unlike the current House of Representatives. It’s like when the men all came home after WWII and wanted the women back in the kitchen. Odin wants to be 100% in control, and the fact that there is a woman flying around with Mjolnir calling herself Thor without his say-so is proof that he doesn’t have that control.
Thor experienced two moments of sisterhood and affirmation from Titania and the All-Mother herself. Titania’s whole bit of “standing down out of respect for what you’re doing” was nice, but it was a little heavy-handed. The scene between Thor and Freyja however was very powerful. Freyja gave Thor some sound advice about the world of men and the mantle of a hero. Stupid men in positions of power will make their stupid decisions; that is inevitable. It’s also inevitable that Odinson will once again wield Mjolnir. Freyja’s advice: you won’t live forever; you probably won’t bet be Thor forever. What’s important though is that you try to make your moment in time mean something; make a difference. Rendered beautifully by guest artist Jorge Molina, this was by far my favorite scene in the issue: two women just being like “let the men think they’ve got a handle on things. What they don’t know won’t hurt them.”
Another thing that this issue reminds us of is that currently the Thor title has two protagonists (specifically two Thors) whose backgrounds and intentions the audience doesn’t truly understand. The new Thor’s identity is shrouded in mystery, though, like Odinson, we are crossing suspects off of our list. Odinson alone is the only character alive who knows why he became “unworthy” of Mjolnir. We still don’t know what it was that Nick Fury whispered in his ear during Original Sin that led to his current circumstances. Of course, as an audience, we are more familiar with Odinson, so he is less mysterious than the new Thor, but I still think it’s a bold and interesting choice for Aaron to leave us in the dark for the “why” of our heroes’ missions. Also, I REALLY like Odinson in his “unworthy” role — metal arm and all. I think it makes him a profoundly more interesting, relatable, and fun character.
Alright, I briefly touched on the two things that really hit me in this issue. Taylor, do you enjoy the hammerless Odinson as much as I do? What did you think of his interaction with Lady Sif? Do you worry like me that this female Thor will be short-lived, especially with the looming Secret Wars?
Taylor: The hammerless Odinson has been a constant source of entertainment for me so far in this series. Man-Thor was never that great of person when we think about it and it’s funny to see all of his “qualities” as a regular god (what?) coming to the forefront now that he doesn’t have Mjolnir bolstering his credibility. Of his many faults, Odinson’s love of mead is a source of comic gold. While alcoholism isn’t funny, it is entertaining to see someone who’s not known for his intellect become even duller after a few drinks. Ultimately, this reminds us of why we like Odinson. He’s simple, a little brutish, and always wears his heart on his sleeve.
These qualities present themselves foremost when we see that he has launched his own investigation into the identify of the current Thor.
Odinson’s version of uncovering a mystery is going out drinking and hoping that the new Thor will reveal herself when drunk. While that’s something he might do, it’s something most would and his inability to recognize that fact is is charming and a little pathetic. Additionally, I love how artist Jorge Molina renders Odinson’s actions all the more endearing by making his list outsized and comical having them written on a scroll. A nice touch is the already crossed out name of Freyja, showing us that Thor has already come to some conclusions because he has a soft spot for his mother.
I just love this panel with Thor’s list. It’s funny, yes, but it also blurs the line between the reader and the characters in this comic in a delightful way. Much talk, on this site and elsewhere, has been devoted to speculation on the identity of the new Thor. So far, that’s been one of the funnest parts of this series. By giving Odinson a list, just like those reading his story, writer Jason Aaron is drawing us closer to his characters. We are all united in our ignorance, and we’re making lists. It’s not often that we are able to compare ourselves to superheroes in realistic ways. Now we can do that and it’s damn fun.
Aaron uses this device in other parts of this issue as well. When Thor is battling Crusher Creel, he takes the opportunity to voice his opinion about the new, female Thor.
Crusher Creel is not particularly intelligent, so we shouldn’t be surprised that his views are less than modern. His argument that “Thor is a dude and a dude only” is surely one Aaron has had to endure countless times since the reboot of this series. Those things being true, it’s hardly a coincidence that Aaron would give this argument to a total buffoon. As with Thor, Aaron has placed the thoughts of his readers into the characters inhabiting this fictional world. The difference here is that while people don’t mind being likened to Odinson, they surely don’t like being compared to Creel. I hardly doubt this is a mistake. By putting these words in the mouth of Creel, Aaron is basically pointing out how stupid they are. It’s a wonderful way of telling off critics by likening them to incompetent idiots.
Basically the message of this series so far has been “change happens, deal with it.” Depending on your stance, this change is either incredible or indecent. Luckily, it seems most readers these days agree with the former instead of the latter. But just in case they don’t, I’m glad Aaron is putting them in their place and showing us that change is inevitable and more often than not, a good thing.
For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page. Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore. If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to Comixology and download issues there. There’s no need to pirate, right?