Monday, January 19, 2015

Thor #2 and #3 (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

I somehow missed issue #2 in converting to getting this title digitally, so let's do #2 and #3 at once, shall we?

We get our first real look at the female Thor in issue #2, and we learn a few things about her identity right off the bat.  Our first clue is that holding Mjolnir apparently means you speak Asgardian (cool font and all), whether you are one or not.  This Thor definitely seems not to be, given her "normal" sounding inner monologue.  (Though, I still think that it's possible that it's one of Thor's granddaughters from the future.  Do they speak Asgardian?)  At any rate, it may seem like a gimmick, but, again, it's actually our first clue to her identity, since it rules out Freya or other female Asgardians.  Our second clue comes from her comment that she's previously met Dario Agger, the head of Roxxon.  I didn't read "Thor:  God of Thunder," so I'm not clear on the details of Thor's battle with Agger and Roxxon.  (I did just join Marvel Unlimited to rectify that problem, however.) So, this clue doesn't mean as much to me as it may to other people.

The good news is that this issue isn't really focused on the clues.  Aaron puts them out there, since he knows that he has to service the mystery that he's created in making the new Thor's identity a secret.  But, he really tries to focus on the story of this woman adjusting to becoming Thor.  She's learning to wield Mjolnir, and it's not just a challenge physically; she's also realizing that she now shares an empathetic, if not telepathic, link with it.  (Him?  Her?  Does Mjolnir have a gender?)  She's also got to face the immiedate test of contemplating who she is without Mjolnir, since she's separated from it when Agger hides himself (and accidentally Mjolnir) in an impenetrable safe room.  Oopsie.

The female Thor resolves that problem in issue #3.  In fact, she resolves a lot of problems in issue #3.  The leader of the Frost Giants, Skrymir, freezes and eats her, but a little problem like that doesn't keep down our girl:  she claws her way to freedom via his skull.  (He doesn't survive, if you were wondering.)  However, we learn that she can't be without Mjolnir for too long, or she reverts to her human form.  (I'm assuming that it's her human form, since she's worried that she won't be able to beat back the Frost Giants in it.  You can contrast that with Thor, who maintains his divinity even if he doesn't have the powers that Mjolnir gives him.  It seems to be our third clue and possibly takes out Thor's future granddaughters from the running.)  This desperation inspires her to rip open the "unbreakable" doors to the safe room, get her hammer, and promptly smash Laufrey's skull as Agger and Malekith argue over it.  It's not a bad day's work as Thor, really, killing one Frost Giant king and preventing another one from getting resurrected.  Malekith mutters some dire warning about the Frost Giants getting upset, but, really, when aren't they upset?  Also, didn't she just kill a good number of them?  Unfortunately, the male Thor isn't as easily impressed as I am, apparently.  He appears at the end of this issue, with a new metal arm, and demands that the female Thor returns Mjolnir to him.  Trouble is coming next issue, obviously.

Looking at both issues together, Aaron's challenge at this point is that the mystery of the female Thor's identity is getting in the way of our ability to get to know her.  Introducing a female Thor is obviously a very big deal (as the letters page attest).  We're all going to want to get to know her.  But, it's hard to get to know her when our only access to her thoughts are carefully curated to make sure that we specifically don't get to know too much about her.  It's not going to be all that interesting if she simply waltzes into a room, kills a bunch of Frost Giants, and calls it a day.

In other words, the concept is only going to get us so far.  It's only the third issue, so I'm not saying that Aaron doesn't have plenty of time to develop her character.  But, he runs the risk of favoring the mystery over the characterization, and doing so would unfortunately reduce this experiment into feeling like a sale gimmick.  I'm pretty sure that Aaron doesn't see it that way, so I'm not too worried.  It's there, but hopefully not for too long.

*** (three of five stars)

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