The Power of Humanity in The Mighty Thor 23

by Spencer Irwin

This article contains SPOILERS! If you haven’t read the issue, proceed at your own risk.

Late in The Mighty Thor 23, as Thor and the War Thor clash over the fate of Svartalfheim, Thor yells that they “have to behave like gods!” I have to wonder what gods she’s been hanging around to make that statement, because almost all of the gods Jason Aaron has presented us throughout his Thor epic have been reckless and arrogant at best, and downright sociopathic at worst. Throughout this issue, Aaron and artist Valerio Schiti seem to be arguing that godhood is more of a weakness than a strength. 

Or perhaps they’re specifically arguing that being a Thor is more of a weakness than a strength? After all, Volstagg was one of the better gods, but his anguish allowed the Ultimate Mjolnir to override his better judgment and transform him into the vengeful War Thor. Odinson gets to spend a page stammering at Roz Solomon, his unending feelings of unworthiness likely wrecking whatever fledgling spark they once had. And Thor’s victory ultimately comes from dropping her hammer, not picking it up.

Admittedly, Jane has an advantage here due to her pre-existing friendship with Volstagg, but this is still a victory she could only achieve as Jane Foster, as a human approaching a god with those most human emotions and concepts of mercy and empathy.

This is a significant development, if only because of how Jane had recently been considering abandoning her mortal form altogether and remaining Thor full-time. Jane had begun to think that it was Mjolnir that gave her worth, but she’d forgotten that it was actually Jane Foster who was found worthy, and her human perspective that’s made her such an effective Thor at all. Mjolnir may give Jane the power to back her convictions, but it’s her humanity that makes Jane Foster mighty.

The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?

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One comment on “The Power of Humanity in The Mighty Thor 23

  1. I think the question of Jane’s beliefs about acting like gods comes from the fact that her central belief that led her to picking up the hammer is the need for ‘true gods’. Jane wants there to be a god who acts like she believes a god should be (this belief that a god should be worthy makes an interesting comparison to the words that made Odinson unworthy).

    And this issue challenges the idea that it can be as simple as ‘act like gods’, because Jane tries that throughout. She shows the power of the gods, defeating Volstagg in combat and seizing his hammer. She shows the will of the gods, overpowering the corrupted Mjolnir and letting it not control her mind. She shows the wisdom of the gods, throwing it away instead of keeping it. And yet, at her most godly, she fails.

    I think there is a problem int his story of too much emphasis being placed on the corrupted hammer, the idea that the hammer is influencing Volstagg. The problem with devices like this is they rob choice from the character. But here, Aaron gets it right. At the very end, it all becomes about Volstagg’s decisions. He chooses to have the corrupted hammer returns, because as godly as Jane is, she can’t change hearts. She needs to make a connection. And she can’t do that as a God (maybe this has to do with the fact that gods are, by definition, distant. We may pray to gods, but they are invisible and unknowable. Our connection to religion is largely connected to other people, whether preachers or fellow believers).

    So Jane, who has just realised the importance of connecting to her humanity, now learns the power of her humanity. That it isn’t jsut about keeping her grounded. But that it has power of its own. An important weapon, one so powerful it can break the Cycles of Violence that the War Thor perpetuated. Because it is only with that power can war end, and not perpetuate eternally as Maliketh wishes.

    Also, after spending so many issues disappointed at the art, Want to praise the art of this issue. Schiti has had problems properly depicting some of the more fantastic elements, in previous issues, but he proves unmatched at his ability to truly depict two titans colliding. Whether it is the mighty punches, the uncontrollable tempests or the painful cries, each and every beat of the fight is drawn to perfection. A truly spectacular battle.

    I still think this arc went on too long. But what an ending

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