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

Marvel’s First 500th Issue!

Comic series resetting to #1 about once every six months year eighteen months or so has become a normal part of the industry in the years since I gave up comic collecting.  When I left, the issues of most major titles were still numbering in the hundreds from their original run.  Now it seems surprising if we get two consecutive years of consistent numbering on any give title.  But today is a magical day!  It’s a Throwback Thursday!  And that means we’re going to travel back to the mystical time of 1996.  Oprah’s Book Club was born.  Everyone was quoting Jerry Maguire.  The Macarena was a thing.  And, in July, Marvel had their first 500th issue with Thor #500!  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

Top Five Wednesday – Settings

Top Five LogoAdmittedly, I’ve only been doing this Top Five Wednesday thing for three weeks now but this one proved a little bit challenging for me.  The good folks who run the Official T5W Group over at Goodreads said we were to write about the top five settings we wanted to see more of.  They could be time periods, places, real, fictitious, etc.  What made this hard is, upon reflection, I learned that the setting is rarely what draws me to a story, let alone makes me fall in love with it.  For example, I love New York City but I won’t read a book or see a film just because it’s set there.  And few books or movies make the city as central a part of it as, say, Begin Again did (which, if you haven’t seen, you should check it out NOW – it’s beautiful).  So it’s not the setting that I love but rather what the author does with the story and the characters they choose to place in that setting.  But!  I wasn’t going to throw in the towel!  So, after some careful consideration, here are the five settings I’d like to see more of. 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