by Taylor Anderson
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
The conflict between a superhero’s alter-ego and their heroic identity is well chronicled. For some, like Black Widow, balancing two identities is cakewalk. For others, like Batman, one identity takes over completely. However, even though the Dark Knight identifies more as Batman than Bruce Wayne, he can still vacillate between his two identities as he pleases. Jane Foster, on the other hand, doesn’t have this luxury. Soon the stage 4 breast cancer that is infecting her body will take her life. If she wants to live, she has only one choice – become Thor forever.
To us the choice between being Thor or being dead seems simple. After all, the choice between facing the void and being able to control lightening seems like an easy one. However, Jane doesn’t see the problem so clearly. As she sees it, should she become Thor full time, she’ll be in no danger of her cancer, but she’ll cease being Jane Foster as she knows her.
If she becomes Thor, Jane essentially dies since her life, as we and she knows it, will end. In introducing this conundrum, Jason Aaron has asked an essential question about superheroes. Alter-egos are part and parcel of the superhero mythology, yet it so infrequently plays a consequential role in their stories in modern storytelling. By forcing Jane to choose either her own identity or that of Thor, Aaron is essentially making the statement that someone is either their superhero identity or no one at all.
Aaron doubles down on this idea when everyone’s favorite glutton, Volstagg, becomes the War Thor.
As the War Thor, Volstagg is a hardened man of war ready to avenge the children killed by Muspelheim in a refugee camp. Before becoming the War Thor, Aaron shows us how Volstagg is a kind and caring man, willing to share his food with those who need it most. However, when he assumes he “heroic” Thor form all traces of that identity are extinguished. The message here, as with Jane’s dilemma, seems to be clear – you are either a hero, or you are nothing.
The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?