“To me my hammer!”
By the 13th Crusader
If you haven’t heard by now, Thor Odinson is now unworthy of wielding of the enchanted Norse Uru hammer Mjölnir. He will soon be replaced by a woman. She’ll be recognized as the new God of Thunder, while Thor Odinson will walk around stripped of the power and title that was his by birthright.
Marvel’s future plans for Thor have certainly garnered the attention of dedicated fans, that thus far, have had mixed reactions towards the upcoming changes. Why is this so? Shouldn’t we all be embracing this type of change or any change for that matter? Is this another Marvel publicity stunt to increase sales? Shouldn’t we all be excited?
The answers in this case are not easy ones by any means.
Let’s begin by exploring this situation in greater historical detail.
Longtime Thor fans will remember that this wouldn’t be the first time a woman would come to possess Thor’s power or his mantle. Mjölnir has been handled by a female before, but usually by women belonging to any of Marvel’s countless alternate realities.
Let’s take a closer look at the women who have achieved Thor status in the past.
In What If? Vol. 1 #10 (Aug 1978), the vacationing Donald Blake traveled to Norway with Jane Foster. During a walk along a Norwegian coast, Don’s cane fell down the side of a cliff. Jane decided to go after it and then noticed several caves nearby. She proceeded into one of the caves and discovered a secret chamber, and in it, laid a primitive walking stick. Jane grabbed it with the intention of giving it to Don since she wasn’t able to retrieve his personal cane. Unable to find her way out of a dark cavern, Jane grew frustrated and used the stick to strike a boulder; in doing so, the power of Thor befell her.
Jane would go on to name herself “Thordis” in this reality and she experienced many of the same adventures that the mainstream Thor did during his early Journey Into Mystery days, by battling the likes of Loki, the Radioactive Man, the Lava Men, Cobra and Mr. Hyde; she even joined the Avengers.
However, she was not well received in Asgard by Odin.
Odin banished Thordis from Asgard; but not before she was hit on by the Warrior’s Three.
Thordis returned to the Golden Realm when it was faced with the threat of Mangog, whose alien race was previously defeated by the Asgardians. Mangog wanted to exact his revenge upon the Norse gods by seeking out the Odinsword and draining it of all its power. If Mangog were to succeed, it would initiate the utter destruction of the known universe, otherwise known as Ragnarok among the Norse gods.
The timing of Mangog’s appearance on Asgard couldn’t have been any worse, for the All-Father was entrenched in his Odinsleep, leaving Asgard susceptible to attack. Thordis and the Asgardians struggled against the powerful Mangog until Thordis used her powers to awaken Odin from his slumber. Odin turned the tide of the great battle towards the Asgardian’s favor and upon Mangog’s defeat, he asked Thordis to surrender Mjölnir, as he proclaimed the actual Thor was ready to emerge once more.
Odin rewarded Jane Foster’s heroism by granting her immortality; he also offered himself. Jane married Odin and she became the new queen of Asgard….and Thor’s new step-mother.
Storm has found herself immersed in Asgardian power several times. Whether it has been in the mainstream continuity or in an alternate reality, she is perhaps, the most recognized woman in Marvel (for now) to have ever wielded a hammer.
It all started with the New Mutants Special Edition #1 in 1985 when Loki was intrigued and physically attracted to by a then powerless Storm. Motivated by his defeat at the hands of Storm and her companions, the X-Men, and their Canadian allies, Alpha Flight, Loki hatched a plan to tempt her into becoming a goddess while simultaneously offering to her a chance of reviving her full command of the elements.
Loki summoned the Enchantress to assist with setting his plan in motion.
Storm found herself before Loki’s presence and he began to work his “charm”.
Storm’s predicament took full flight in the giant-sized X-Men Annual # 9 (1985).
Storm fell prey to Loki’s devious machinations after he presented her with a unique gift; an enchanted hammer similar to Thor’s. This hammer, known as Stormcaster, permitted Storm to tap into the Asgardian magics and allowed her to command vast power.
At Loki’s behest, Storm tested her newfound gift on her fellow teammates. After nearly burning Wolverine to a crisp, Hela appeared and announced that she was there to claim his fleeing soul.
Storm finally began to realize that she was being deceived by Loki and attacked the Asgardian goddess of Hel.
Hela retreated from the onslaught which allowed Storm to turn her full attention towards Loki; ultimately, she relinquished Stormcaster and returned to Earth.
What If Vol. 2 #12 (Apr 1990) essentially picks up where the giant-sized X-Men Annual # 9 left off. Instead of leaving Asgard for Earth, as she did in the mainstream continuity, Storm couldn’t give up her hammer and all the perks that came with it.
Loki brought Storm before an assembly of Asgardians to plead his case for making her their realm’s new leader and protector in Thor’s absence. During this time, no one other than Loki knew that Thor was on Earth trapped in the form of a frog; courtesy of one of Loki’s spells.
Storm wasted no time in responding to the Asgardian’s dilemma.
Storm found the transformed Thor and battled him as Loki suggested.
After their battle, Thor regained his true form and stood by Storm’s side when Hela launched an offensive that resulted in casualties for both Asgardians and mutants alike.
Hela was destroyed.
Since Thor held a dual role in protecting Earth and Asgard, he decreed that Storm would be Asgard’s official ruler whenever he was absent and proclaimed her a goddess of thunder. As a notation, Storm’s enchanted hammer in this reality was known as Storm-Bringer, not Stormcaster.
In X-Men Millennial Visions Vol.1 #2 (Jan 2002) we learn of another Storm from an alternate reality who became attracted to Thor; however, Thor’s ex-girlfriend Tarene (a.k.a. Thor Girl) was still in love with the thunder god. Loki casted several spells that drove Tarene to confront Storm. Tarene was killed and Storm picked up her hammer and became Thor’s equal.
So, we arrive to this point with Storm’s Asgardian experiences and I have yet to mention if she has ever held the coveted Mjölnir. I will now.
In Marvel’s mainstream continuity, Thor went to visit Storm in Wakanda in X-Men To Serve and Protect #3 (Mar 2011).
Thor presented Storm with a box he found in Asgard, and in it laid Stormcaster.
Thor finally learned then that Stormcaster was created by Loki. Naturally, Thor was reluctant in letting Storm regain the mystical mallet.
Thor’s plea went unheard and Storm was once again possessed by Loki’s enchantments.
Storm attacked the thunder god and a battle between them ensued. Storm was able to get close enough to Thor to get her hands on Mjölnir; she then used it to destroy Stormcaster.
What If? Vol. 2 #66 (Oct 1994) featured Rogue during her stint as a member of the New Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. In this tale, she absorbs every iota of Thor’s power and abilities. Unfortunately, Rogue’s actions in this parallel existence rendered the thunder god so helpless that it turned him into a lifeless husk.
Naturally, Odin was overwhelmed with grief following the loss of his son. He commanded Balder, Sif and the Warrior’s Three to quell the threat that Rogue posed to the Earth.
Ever the mischief, Loki appeared to Rogue and convinced her to travel to Asgard with him. Once they arrived, Loki began feeding Rogue lies and enlightened her with a need to protect her brand new might from the rest of the Asgardians.
Loki’s scheme reached fruition, when Rogue and a legion of his allies invaded Asgard City.
Rogue confronted Odin but hesitated to strike him. She began to realize that her latest actions caused nothing but turmoil, leaving her with a profound sense of emptiness and insignificance.
Thor’s essence manifested itself within Rogue’s conflicted mind. Thor persuaded her to seek a life of her own, instead of living out an illusion. He urged her to come to terms with the responsibility of upholding the principles associated with being Thor.
Thor’s poignant words inspired Rogue to resist Loki’s influence over her.
Loki was defeated and the threat to Asgard was gone. Rogue officially became the new Thor; much to Odin’s delight.
The new Thor traversed the skies with an updated inscription on Mjölnir.
Even a non-Marvel female character has had the brief honor of holding Mjölnir: Wonder Woman. She did so in Marvel vs. DC #2 (Mar 1996).
However, the ultra-honorable Amazon relinquished Mjölnir prior to her challenge against the mutant Storm.
Wonder Woman was shocked when her decision to take the high road, backfired…get it? “Shocked?”…sigh.
What If? Vol. 2 #114 (Nov 1998) was a story based on Marvel’s participants in the Secret Wars, who never left Battleworld; instead, they elected to call a truce amongst each other. Heroes and villains alike settled down to start new lives and families. Born in this alternate reality was Sarah Rogers, the daughter of Captain America and Rogue. Yes, Rogue. How was that possible? Well, allow me to indulge you with an epigrammatic clarification of how this came to be. This adaptation of Rogue couldn’t suppress the consciousness of Carol Danvers, which in turn, allowed Carol to gain control over Rogue’s deadly abilities. There, done.
Sarah Rogers eventually becomes Crusader, a member of the Battleworld Avengers, when Doctor Doom’s son, Vincent Von Doom, a.k.a. Malefactor, made it known that he intended to follow in his father’s footsteps by taking over the planet. Crusader picked up her father’s legendary shield and confronted the would-be-conqueror. During her battle with Malefactor, she was hurled to the site of the original Secret Wars battlefield.
Crusader returned with a surprise for Doom Jr.
The story came to a close with Crusader finding a way to reach Earth along with her fellow teammates. Upon their arrival, they’re amazed by the sheer number of Sentinels swarming the planet. Unable to return to Battleworld, the young heroes remained on Earth and assumed the mission of ridding the Earth of the Sentinels.
Earth X Thor
The Thor of Earth X was actually a being of alien origin that was genetically altered by the space-spanning Celestials. The alien would eventually traverse the cosmos and find its way to Earth. Upon the alien’s arrival, it was manipulated by a human to become Thor. This Thor had many of the same adventures as the mainstream Thor – except for Odin’s lesson in humility. Loki was able to convince Odin that turning Thor into a woman would humble him even further as he would be perceived as weaker and constantly hounded by men. Odin agreed and it was done – Thor was transformed into a woman.
Thor’s quandaries contained a clause – should she return to Asgard and tell Odin that he was tricked by Loki into changing Thor into a woman, she would never be able to return to Earth, giving Loki free reign over humanity. Thus, Thor’s silence on the matter was all but guaranteed.
The Earth X Thor never held an actual “Mjölnir”. Instead it was revealed that her hammer was but an extension of her alien physique that mimicked the powers and abilities of the mainstream continuity Thor. This version of Thor was modeled after Thordis (Jane Foster).
In issue #3 of the What If? Age of Ultron series (Apr 2014), we learn of Thor’s final battle with the immensely powerful Midgard Serpent.
Thor died and the Midgard Serpent remained loose on Earth; it appeared that all was lost for humanity….until the Black Widow arrived.
Up against impossible odds, Black Widow reached for Mjölnir and received Thor’s power.
The Black Widow confronted the Midgard Serpent and defeated it.
So as you can see, a female Thor has been seen before. The concept is not an original one at all. I want to make sure you fans out there know that.
However, as a longtime fan and collector of Thor myself, I too have a mixed outlook towards the upcoming changes. Before anyone says “oh, is it because Thor’s going to be a woman?” NO; not in the least bit. It has nothing to do with the sex of the character. That’s stupid and childish.
I grew up but became accustomed to watching Thor Odinson being the primary Thor. I say primary because he’s been replaced before. In addition to the women I outlined above, I can remember reading the Beta Ray Thor saga; I remember tolerating Thunderstrike and the Thor Corps, and I don’t want to leave out “the one and future Thor”, Dargo etc. In the end, we’ve seen a plenty of people showcasing the power of Thor; male and female, this or in another reality. Some were successful; others maybe not so much. Ultimately, I don’t care who Thor is, male, female or alien, as long as they are worthy of being “a” Thor and the stories are well written and drawn, I’ll buy it. Otherwise, in my opinion, it will be a major fail and a waste of my time and hard-earned money.
What I do applaud is that the upcoming changes will take place in the mainstream continuity. I like the concept of Thor Odinson losing his honor but someone else gaining it. That makes for a great plot and it should grab plenty of interest, especially with the recent events of the Original Sin storyline.
But, the aforementioned views are nothing but a brief perspective from a storyline aspect.
From a marketing point of view, I can’t honestly say that I have a positive reaction to all of this. I am completely sold that this concept is yet another publicity stunt by Marvel to boost interest and sales from the casual and everyday collectors. Otherwise, why do it at all? If it wasn’t a publicity stunt, then explain why Marvel had to make the announcement for Thor on ABC’s popular daytime show, The View? Why go to such great lengths to expose the idea of changing the sex of a well known existing Marvel character instead of turning it into the introduction of a new and original female stand-alone and making it stick?
So, what will Marvel do with the female Thor? Will they use strictly use her to harness more sales from female collectors for as long as they can, for just this specific title? Will they treat her like they have the other replacement Thor’s as we have seen in the past? Will they watch the sales trends and allow it to dictate where this will all end up?
Thor’s case is still on the docket in the court of public opinion; time will tell us what the final verdict is going to be.
Until next time!