Thor’s Day Salutes: “Whosoever Holds This Hammer…”

Legacy Characters have become a central (and vitally important) part of modern comic storytelling but Thor was doing it long before it was a trend.  Many sets of hands have held Mjölnir over the years and this Thor’s Day (that’s right Thursday…we’re going back to your original purpose and honoring the Thunder God!) I thought it would be fun to look at some of my favorites and consider why they’ve resonated with me.  (I also wanted to explore Mjölnir’s power set a bit, just for funzzies.)  I returned to reading Thor comics when Jane Foster became the Goddess of Thunder but my original run with the title was from 1991 to 1997.  Obviously there are more Thors than I’ll examine here, but these are my favorites :). Continue reading

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The Mighty Thor and the Nature of God

Ever since Jane Foster picked up Mjölnir and became Thor, Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman have been delivering the most exciting, original, and thoughtful stories – all gorgeously rendered – I’ve ever found in the pages of The Mighty Thor.  Sure, I loved Tom DeFalco’s Thunder God, my intro to the character.  I’ve enjoyed the other versions I’ve read too.  (And who doesn’t love Chris Hemsworth?)  But Jane Foster’s the mightiest Thor for me.  Their most recent arc, “The Asgard/Shi’ar War,” is a perfect example of why this has become my definitive take on Thor.  It features what all the best Thor stories do – a wild cosmic landscape, universe-spanning clashes between celestial beings and alien forces, layered/interesting characters – while also offering an elegant theological commentary on the ontological nature of both humanity and divinity. Continue reading

Many Faces, One Symbol

On July 6th, Marvel announced that after the conclusion of Civil War II a young woman named Riri Williams will take over for Tony Stark as Iron Man.  Fandom reacted as it always does.  There was intrigue.  There was optimism.  There was excitement.  Annnd there were the usual (tired) cries of it being a p.c.-driven agenda or proof that Marvel is out of ideas, echoed in the familiar refrain of, “I don’t mind a female/minority/etc. superhero…but why can’t they have their own identity??”  But I’d like to argue if you think Spider-Man is simply Peter Parker, you’ve missed the entire point.  Spider-Man represents so much more than Peter Parker.  Spider-Man is a symbol, an ideal.  The more people we see picking up that mantle, the more people we see embodying that symbol, the better.  This is as true for Spider-Man as it is for Iron Man or any comic book superhero. Continue reading

The MIGHTIEST Thor and the Divine Feminine

It should’ve come as no surprise that I grew up to study (and now teach) theology.  As a kid I was always fascinated by mythology.  I had two gorgeous, hardcover collections of myths my parents gave me as presents.  They were the Doubleday volumes D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths and D’Aulaires’ Norse Gods and Giants.  I lived in those books, reading and rereading the legends – creating versions of these ancient deities out of my LEGOs to harass my other LEGO characters – and obsessing over the heroic tales and the trials of the gods.  Exploring the spiritual stories we use to try and express our deepest truths has always been something I’ve loved.  It should be easy to predict then that, growing up, Thor was my second favorite superhero (second only to Spider-Man).  But even as a lifelong Thor fan, I couldn’t have predicted how quickly Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman ‘s current take on the character would become my all-time favorite. Continue reading