Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Russel Dauterman
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
Release date: March 21, 2018
Oh boy. This is… this is going to be tough.
So, a while back Natalie Portman (about five years ago? I think?), whilst on the promotional trail for a movie whose name escapes me, was asked a question something along the lines of what she considers a ‘feminist’ story and she responded thus;
“The fallacy in Hollywood is that if you’re making a “feminist” story, the woman kicks ass and wins. That’s not feminist, that’s macho. A movie about a weak, vulnerable woman can be feminist if it shows a real person that we can empathize with.”
Hmm. Still can’t recall which movie it was. Or why this is particularly relevant to this review. Huh.
Anyway, I bring it up because, in the case of Jane Foster, the Mighty Thor, we kind of have our cake and eat it too. Jane is weak, vulnerable and always has been, but it drives her heroism and makes her worthy. ‘Though the flesh may be weak, the thunder is strong.’ We can empathize with her, not just because we all either know someone who battled cancer or are someone who battled cancer, but because her story showed a woman who just wanted to help. Wanted to save people. Wanted to do the right thing. In spite of how much the gods have cost her, she knows humans aren’t exactly always worthy either. She gives her life for both because, despite their flaws, despite all they have done- they both have the capacity for good. It draws a direct comparison with the Wonder Woman movie as this is the reason Diana continues to be a hero despite all she lost.
Jane is no different. She’s just as recklessly brave, even when she is inches from death and I think most of us like to think we’d be just as brave in the same circumstances. I hesitate to label anything as ‘feminist’, because it is a very subjective and I know a lot of people, even people who love this arc (myself included), would hesitate to call it a feminist story. However, by the metric put forward by the woman who portrayed her in the movies, I’d say that this could be interpreted as a feminist story. Regardless of whether you agree, it is, at the very least, about a remarkable woman. That’s got to count for something.
And that is why not only is she the best Thor… she is now the last one. Or at least, the last worthy one.
Jason Aaron crafted a story that could’ve become a gimmick, could’ve been a notable novelty nerds will bring up as a trivia point in like a decade, and he gave Jane Foster enough drive and purpose to make us care so damned much. I mean, if Twitter is any indication, there were grown ass men crying their eyes out. Over a character that, for the last few decades, most of the fandom either forgot about or considered the Lana Lang of Thor’s story. That’s down to Aaron and, as much as I might resent having to say goodbye, I’m glad it was in a way worthy of this Thor. She went out in a literal blaze of glory, in the arms of a man she loved.
As much as it hurts to admit it, the other thing Aaron did so well over her run is the tragedy of their relationship. I never expected this, but I hoped like hell and Aaron delivered. Whilst they clearly never stood a chance, by circumstance and through the machinations of the All-Douche himself, they still care so much for each other. Under Aaron’s tenure, they are the classic ‘almost’ couple. There is still a kind of love there and we just saw it get one hell of a swan song. Someone on Twitter pointed out there is even a bittersweet callback to a moment in Unworthy Thor. Aaron has known it was going down like this for a long time and the payoff was heartbreaking. Someone get this man an Eisner. Or a beer. Or both. Seriously. It’s no wonder he’s been given another crack at the Avengers.
Speaking of Eisners- Matt Wilson knows how to bring Russel Dauterman’s art to life. He imbues the art, a rich flowing tapestry of bone-crunching action and epic blows, with glorious reds and golds. Good Lord, both Dauterman and Wilson’s reputations are well deserved; everything looks cinematic. Aronofsky cinematic. It’s chaotic, colourful and just… alive. Say what you will about this series; it’s hard to deny that it always looked epically beautiful. It all but comes with it’s own soundtrack by Two Steps From Hell. It is Metal.
If I have any negatives… it’s that I was never going to be okay with losing Jane, after having become so attached to her. It’s hard not to feel a little bitter at saying goodbye. Some part of me can’t help but feel that this is a very long, drawn-out way of essentially fridging Jane so that once again, Thor Odinson can learn the same damn lesson he has to learn every few years. I wanted to see more of her, more of her past, more of her memories and experiences prior to picking up Mjolnir. I wish other writers had cared enough about her to flesh her out as a character in the past (Thor The Mighty Avenger notwithstanding). I wish the fandom had cared more before she had to die.
But even this feels kind of like a praising with faint damnation- how dare Aaron make me care for a character to the point that her death has left me utterly heartbroken! For shame!
I hope this arc and this Thor continues to get the praise it richly deserves. I hope Jane manages to come back in some way. I hope this isn’t the end of her story, but even if it is… seeing it through to the end, from the mystery woman lifting Mjolnir to finally seeing Jane’s face, unmasked in this series, was worth it.
Jane Foster got her wish- it was one Hell of a fight, for one Hell of a Thor.