Jane Foster: Valkyrie – Glimpsing Transcendence in Death

The centerpiece of Jason Aaron’s epic seven year run writing Thor: God of Thunder/The Mighty Thor/Thor was Jane Foster lifting Mjölnir when the Odinson found himself unworthy to do so.  She became Thor, the Goddess of Thunder, and the stories that followed were the best Thor comics I’ve ever read.  It may be the best executed single story arc I’ve ever ready in any comic ever.  When the Odinson eventually reclaimed his title as the God of Thunder, Jane returned her focus to her civilian life, medical career, and – most importantly – fighting the cancer raging inside her.  However, her superhero career was far from over and the stories Jane Foster now finds herself in (written first by Jason Aaron and Al Ewing and now by Jason Aaron and Torunn Grønbekk) dance along the mysterious, wonderous, frightening, sacred threshold that is the dividing line between life and death. Continue reading

The Marvel Cinematic Universe and the Problem of Fat Shaming

In a recent post about the first teaser trailer for Black Widow, I discussed my excitement for the film while pointing out the criticism Marvel received almost as soon as the trailer premiered for fat shaming again.  In addition to all the (fair and deserving) praise Avengers: Endgame received, it also received some (fair and deserving) criticism for fat shaming in their presentation of Thor.  The trailer for Black Widow does the same with the character of Red Guardian.  A comment left on that post led to the idea for this one.  While putting together my reply, I decided it warranted its own post.  I write often of the intersection of comic books and social justice issues on this site so it’s not just natural but important I address this because fat shaming, or weightism, is a justice issue.  It’s also one, sadly, many people in our culture don’t understand or, worse, don’t even acknowledge as an issue at all.  Thankfully that’s starting to change and now seems like an opportune time to add my voice to that chorus. Continue reading

NATALIE PORTMAN IS COMING BACK!!! JANE FOSTER IS BECOMING THOR IN THE MCU!!!

Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh, OH MY GOSH PEOPLE!!!!  I’m never one to get crazy excited about the San Diego Comic Con announcements (or any con for that matter).  I read about ’em, sure.  I get excited about what’s revealed, of course.  But I’m not one to follow everything live on Twitter or YouTube or anything.  I certainly don’t normally write about reveals and things like that.  But Natalie Portman is returning and Jane Foster is becoming The Mighty Thor in Thor: Love and Thunder and this is a real thing that’s really happening.  And I was just too darn excited so I had to write something!  It is time to celebrate good times, c’mon!  WOOO HOOO!!! Continue reading

My Journey to Comics

By Krysta of Pages Unbound

When I was growing up, no one talked about comic books, not really.  Sometimes teachers would disparage comics as books for kids who could not—or would not—read.  Sometimes librarians would do the same.  Even five years ago, I still knew teachers and librarians who did not believe reading comics counted as reading.  Perhaps there were students in my classes who did read comics.  But, in a culture where liking comics was equated with laziness and stupidity, I can see why no one would have dared to talk about them. Continue reading

“The Death of the Mighty Thor” – My Eulogy for the Best Comic I’ve Ever Read

This is a milestone for me :).  This piece is my 300th post on My Comic Relief!!  I’ve been trying to figure out which comic was worthy of such a tribute since about my 256th post.  Then, like a blinding flash of lightening it hit me.  I adored Jason Aaron, Russell Dauterman, and Matthew Wilson’s work with Jane Foster in The Mighty Thor.  She’s become my definitive Thor.  I’ve written several pieces exploring the brilliance of this run but I’ve never written about the end of Jane’s time wielding Mjölnir.  To do so, I wanted it to be special.  Instead of another analysis, I aim to simply pay tribute, to eulogize in the wake of “The Death of the Mighty Thor,” to talk about why I fell in love with this character and this comic.  In short I want to explain why Jane’s time as Thor became MY FAVORITE COMIC BOOK STORYLINE OF ALL TIME.  In my heart, she’ll always be who I mean when I invoke the name “Thor.” Continue reading

Lovin’ Loki: When A Villain Evolves

As early news for 2012’s The Avengers began to spread, we learned (much like in the comics) the villain who would unite these heroes for the first time was a familiar face.  Loki Laufeyson had survived his self-imposed fall from the Bifrost at the end of 2011’s Thor and would be leading a Chitauri invasion force to take Earth as his own.  This had two major implications for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  First, most obviously, it gave the Avengers a reason to form.  Second, it showed the MCU was finally ready to depart from the default/cliché ending to almost every superhero movie ever.  A villain had lived!  This would be a game changer.  In allowing Loki’s character to evolve (over the course of five films by the time Avengers: Infinity War hits), fans have been able to embrace him as Tom Hiddleston has built an engaging, complicated, and evolving character. Continue reading

The Great Chris Debate: In Defense of Chris Hemsworth

Guest Post by Kalie Zamierowski of Just Dread-full

I will be the first to admit: there are a lot of great Chrises in Hollywood right now – a lot of talented, attractive, funny men who warrant our attention. If you’ve been following the series so far, you’ve read two arguments: one explaining why Chris Pratt is the best Chris in the business, and one explaining why Chris Evans is. Well, I have no particular vendetta against Chris Pratt or Chris Evans or (the yet-to-come) Chris Pine – all of whom are brilliant, funny, incredibly good-looking men. Indeed, I might even assert that Chris Pratt or Evans or Pine were the best Chris in Hollywood, if….if….if Chris Hemsworth didn’t exist! But let’s face it, Chris Hemsworth does exist. Oh, he exists, and his wit, charm, and brazen sex appeal make him, undoubtedly, the best Chris. Let’s delve into, with a little more specificity, why Chris Hemsworth is the best Chris there is. Continue reading

Thor Odinson vs. Roxxon: You Can’t Serve Two Masters

In preparation for my paper on Jason Aaron’s use of the Divine Feminine in The Mighty Thor at the ACA/PCA Conference on Popular Culture at the end of the month, I’ve finished reading his entire Thor: God Of Thunder series.  Following Gorr the God Butcher, Aaron introduces another villain who is equally rich in menace and theological significance.  Dario Agger, CEO of Roxxon Energy Corporation, will challenge first the Odinson and then Jane Foster when she becomes Thor.  In continuing his exploration of what makes a worthy god Aaron uses Agger as the personification of two of our most sinful and dangerous traits – the idolatrous worship of wealth and wanton environmental destruction.  These then are the forces a worthy god opposes.  Continue reading

Thor’s Battle with Gorr the God Butcher: A Question of Divine Implications

Jason Aaron began his run writing Thor: God Of Thunder by introducing the villainous Gorr the God Butcher.  For millennia Gorr travelled the cosmos, killing all immortal beings he encountered in the most macabre fashions he could imagine.  The story is obviously rich with theological implications, considering both the nature and purpose of our ideas of the divine as well as introducing the question that will form the core of Aaron’s run to date – what is a worthy god?  In preparation for a paper I’ll be presenting on Jason Aaron’s use of the Divine Feminine in The Mighty Thor at the ACA/PCA Conference on Popular Culture next month, I’ve been reading all of Aaron’s work with Thor (both Odinson and Jane Foster).  My research also led me to many articles interpreting Aaron’s work as a sort of atheistic manifesto, something I felt warranted further discussion. Continue reading

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