By Molly Jane Kremer. Another slew of All-New, All-Different Marvel debuts rolled in with Wednesday’s tide of comic releases, and there was actually something notably new and different about them this time: three of the five were solo female-led titles.
What makes these debuts all the more auspicious is that they are all continuations of the successful series that preceded them, with identical creative teams that had already reached stellar quality (which, admittedly, might diminish some of that all-new-ness): Hopeless & Rodriguez’s Spider-Woman, Wilson, Miyazawa, & Alphona’s Ms. Marvel, and Aaron & Dauterman’s Thor were highlights of Marvel’s monthly schedule long before Secret Wars began its messy and extended stay. The Mighty Thor #1, however, is different from its last incarnation in that now we truly get to experience everything from her eyes (and from her heart), with all the inspirational ass-kicking that would entail.
A main difference between the last Thor series and this one is that the Odinson (or, you know, the dude formerly known as Thor) is found within these pages. (Although we do get an attractively-posed butt shot of him on the cover – artist Russell Dauterman yet again serving up some much-appreciated beefcake.) Odinson gets one mention and zero panel time, whereas the last series—because he (and we) were still puzzling out the unknown secret of this new Thor’s true identity—was still more from Odinson’s perspective than anyone else. A series now entirely from Thor’s (and significantly, Jane’s) point of view is extraordinarily appreciated. It finally feels like this series truly belongs to her, and in that The Mighty Thor #1 shines.
Aaron introduced Jane’s status as a cancer patient in issue #12 of his first Thor series, Thor: God of Thunder, and it’s been part of her status quo ever since. The Mighty Thor #1 goes into the most detail about it so far, detailing the horrible experience that is chemotherapy (“Having cancer is a piece of cake compared to getting rid of it,” Jane tells us). The juxtaposition of her so evident (and so fleeting) mortality with her mighty god-like powers is directly driven home, and is reminiscent of older Thor continuity when Odinson was paired up with/contained by the frail form of Donald Blake.
But being Thor wasn’t endangering Donald Blake’s health: lifting the hammer and transforming into the Thunder God has been negating the medicinal effects of Jane’s chemo, and her cancer has been further metastasizing because of it. Jane continues in her superheroing, even though it’s slowly and painfully killing her—and Dauterman illustrates her smallness, fragility, and pain with heartbreaking beauty—because she feels compelled to do good for our world (not to mention the other nine realms). She shows an even greater altruism than Odinson ever did, and probably more than any other superhero being published today.
This is in fact the third Thor series Aaron has penned, and because of his typical mastery of genre and style each has been readable as hell, for different (and flawlessly executed) reasons. Aaron has made up for the lack of “is she or isn’t she?” mystery in this new volume of the series: much of the last Thor depended on the whodunnit aspect of Thor’s secret identity, but now we have the experience that is her identity to latch on to, and Aaron writes her as incredibly compelling in both incarnations.
What makes Jane that much more compelling is the art of Russell Dauterman: the art in this book is still absolutely gorgeous, verifying that he is quite possibly the best artist working in superhero comics today. As in the last series, he still creates the most gorgeous layouts you’ll see in any sequentials, and his character design is impeccable. He gives the entire book an energy and lightness (despite scenes in the oncology ward) that makes every panel a joy to read. Matthew Wilson’s extraordinary colors continue to bring celestial, fantasy, and sci fi elements to the fore with a palette both stunning, and at a few points, even creeptastic (in a space-horror sort of way). Dauterman and Wilson have an amazing artistic chemistry, and the palpable energy of this pairing is evident on every page.
This creative team is one that would absolutely kill on any current monthly (and whom I would follow to literally any title anywhere), but as they happen to be tackling my favorite sub-universe in Marvel, I hope they plan on staying in the Ten Realms for as long as possible.
Written by Jason Aaron.
Art by Russell Dauterman.
Colors by Matthew Wilson.
Lettered by VC’s Joe Sabino.
10 out of 10