Giving Meaning to the Inevitable in Mighty Thor 704

by Drew Baumgartner

The Mighty Thor 704

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

Heroes are predictable, at least in terms of the noble qualities that define heroism. That is, while a hero’s cunning plan or stroke of genius may surprise us, that they would try to save the day — even and especially at great risk to themselves — is kind of a foregone conclusion. And no hero represents that quality of self-sacrifice better than Jane Foster, whose daily choice to wield Mjolnir to protect others has slowly allowed her cancer to advance. So that she would take up the hammer once again, even with the knowledge that doing so would surely kill her, isn’t exactly a surprise Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman could have hoped to withhold. So instead, they spend this issue detailing exactly what that decision means to her beyond self-sacrifice, getting at just what it is that makes Jane so selfless in the first place.

Split into three stories told in parallel, this issue chronicles both the destruction on Asgardia and Jane’s attempts to sit idly by while that destruction happens, but the most moving has to be the series of flashbacks that grapple with Jane’s own faith (or lack thereof). It starts with Jane’s mother, on her deathbed, lamenting that she had never introduced Jane to any religion that might bring her comfort, but also touches on the deaths of her father, ex-husband, and son. That last one is particularly impactful, as it happens after Jane has already befriended a literal god, suggesting that a relationship with (a) god may not bring the comfort her mother had hoped.

Jane's faith

In that way, we might understand Jane’s self-sacrifice as a lack of faith — she doesn’t trust the gods or anyone else to save who needs saving, so she has no choice but to do it herself. It’s absolutely heartbreaking, but also challenges Mangog’s assertions that no god is compassionate and selfless enough to be above his scorn. Jane has to be more compassionate and selfless than the gods because she’s found them lacking so many times. That might just give her the edge over Mangog, but likely only because she’s doomed to actually follow through on that whole self-sacrifice thing. It’s a hel of a way to go, but Aaron and Dauterman perfectly justify it, helping us understand exactly how someone could come to make such a heroic gesture.

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?

3 comments on “Giving Meaning to the Inevitable in Mighty Thor 704

  1. I’m not sure how comics gets better than this. This whole arc from day 1 with Mystery Female Thor has been great, and it just keeps building and building. I think Aaron’s run with Jane Thor will be worth rereading and reexamining after it ends, because this has been a multi-year treat.

    • The most amazing thing is that this is only the second act of a story that has at least a third act to go. We begun with the amazing Thor: God of Thunder series that is hailed as a modern classic and iconic Thor story (especially the first arc), only for Aaron to suddenly change literally everything to give us Jane Foster as Thor and create something even more classic and iconic. I can’t wait to see what we get next. Because at the end, we could very easily have three runs that are each worth rereading and dissecting years after they are done. They aren’t perfect, Aaron has an unfortunate tendency to plot block. But this feels like a truly historic run

  2. Damn, this is what I was afraid it was going to be… Urgh.

    The Flashbacks are the best part, by far. I think they way they deepen Jane’s relationship with the idea of Thor is a bit more sophisticated than just ‘she knows what it is like when the gods fail’. I think it is important that she knows what it is like when both the gods fail and when they succeed. It isn’t that the she needs to be Thor because the Gods are lacking. But because even as she has seen the same failures as Mangog, she has also seen the successes. The fact that the Gods have failed do not discount the their successes, and no matter how many people, whether it is Gor or Mangog, make the case that Odinson is not Worthy, Thor brings enough good in the world that the world needs a Thor. Jane, GOr and Mangog have seen God’s face and found it lacking, but Jane has the wisdom to see that God is trying, and has value despite their failures.

    But the massive problem is huge. What actually happened this issue? Ignore the flashbacks, and focus on the actual events. The situation shifted from Ragnarok bad to… Ragnarok bad. Jane wandered around a hospital, having a nice scene with her friend but not actually acting as a character turning point. Nothing happened. Jane made one choice last issue, wandered around for a bit, and made a different choice. Which is really bad.

    It is called Plot Blocking, where scenes happen not to further character or story, but to merely stall and stretch out length. Events that happen not to create obstacles that force change or growth, but to just take up time. Quite simply, this issue shouldn’t exist. Either Aaron should have committed to his choice last issue, or he should have had Jane pick the hammer up last issue.

    There was a lot of potential with Jane’s choice last issue. I was interested in the idea of Strange and Sam fighting in Asgardia. And I was hoping for Mangog’s defeat to be done not by Thor, but by Jane. Have Jane turn up to Asgard and defeat the Mangog, no powers, no hammer. Just turn up like she’s the Doctor and there’s a Zygon war to stop. Just start talking. Make the Death of Thor symbolic, as Jane becomes a hero even without the hammer. You have everything you need. Mangog very specifically hates gods, so it would be fair to say that he wouldn’t kill a cancer ridden human (or, at the very least, give Jane every chance to leave). And Jane takes every chance to speak, ripping apart Mangog’s beliefs until the Mangog realises he has to stop. Would ahve been an amazing climax.
    And I’m sure whatever climax Aaron has in mind will be great, but it didn’t need an issue of Jane wandering a hospital hall. The flashbacks could be in a different issue, and we could reshape the structure so Odinson can have the fight he had. There were so many fantastic possibilities. None of them are improved by this issue.

    It is honestly Aaron’s greatest weakness as a writer. He does so much good stuff, but he is far too reliant on plot blocking.

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