Thor is one of the most recognizable and unique of Marvel‘s heroes. From the cosmic comics of Jack Kirby to the MCU, Thor has long been a staple of the House of Ideas. Though many have wielded the mystical hammer Mjolnir, it requires a lot to truly take on the mantle of Thor. In 2014’s
For writer Jason Aaron it was a natural progression for the character. “I was just telling the same Thor story I’d already been telling for years. And taking that story to its logical next chapter. And to me, it’s a story that has roots reaching all the way back to 1962, to Thor’s first appearance in
Though the series and its continuation,
“I was surprised at the blatant misogyny in so many of the comments — that was really upsetting,” explained series artist Russell Dauterman. “The other concerns from Thor fans about the name, and about Thor Odinson not being the star of the book, I understood. But, I hope people who’ve read the series have seen that Jane being Thor fits within the narrative that Jason’s been building since he started writing the
The most overwhelming response to Jane Foster taking on the mantle of Thor, though, was a positive one and that has made a huge impact on the book’s creative team. “I’ve been surprised by the positive response we’ve received,” said Dauterman. “I’ve been really moved by all the people who’ve sent messages about how Jane’s story resonates with them, either because they’re struggling with an illness or have lost someone to cancer; or just messages from people who love seeing a female superhero in the spotlight, being tough and awesome. That matters a lot more to me than any of the negative stuff.”
Jason Aaron expanded on the powerfully positive response they’ve received from fans: “Like Russell said, the negativity has just been noise. It hasn’t changed the story we’re telling, not in any way whatsoever. And it’s all been drowned out by the flip-side of that, by the response of people who’ve been truly touched or affected by Jane’s story. I’d never cried at a signing before I started writing
One of the greatest strengths of the series is the balance between intimate human storytelling and expansive cosmic adventures. This is something the team have become adept at: balancing Jane’s story–a mortal woman battling cancer–with that of her alter-ego a living goddess. As with any sequential storytelling,
Aaron offered his own take on this important balance.
“Yeah, I think that’s always the challenge when you’re writing a character like Thor. You can do things in a Thor story that you can’t do with other Marvel characters. You can tell stories on the grandest of scales. Stories in the distant past or in the far, far future. You can go to different fantasy realms, into space, other dimensions, even into the afterlife. So given all that, how do you keep the characters relatable to those of us stuck down here on Midgard? For me, that’s meant focusing on Jane’s battle with cancer or Thor Odinson’s relationship with his dad or his struggle with unworthiness or seeing both of them so fervently devoted to trying to be the sort of god I’d like to believe in,” he said.
With this statement, Aaron perfectly summed up one of the book’s biggest strengths: the creative team’s dedication to finding the relatable in the unbelievable, and knowing the importance of both.
In sequential storytelling there’s so much that relies on the visual world an artist creates and Dauterman detailed his process for designing and showcasing both sides of Jane: “I really love the dichotomy between Jane-as-Thor and Jane-as-Jane, and I’ve tried to play that up as much as possible. I think having them be so visually different heightens the stakes of the book. Thor is muscular, tall, and stands confidently with a billowing cape and hair. She’s a superhero and a goddess, so I try to make her visually impressive. With Jane, I always try to draw her standing with a hunch, as is she’s weighed down by her illness. She’s small, pale, and increasingly gaunt and tired-looking. But, I always try to find ways to have her inner strength show through, usually in her facial expression.”
Just like fans, the creators have favorite issues that they have created, and for Dauterman the creation of a very special issue stands out in his mind.
“Issue #19 was a really exciting one to draw, because Jane got to take on more of the qualities I usually save for Thor,” the artist explained. “Jane was on a psychic plane, and once she realized that everything around her was happening in her head, she manifested Mjolnir and was able to pick up the hammer without transforming. She held the hammer and looked at the camera with this totally pissed off expression, and then whacked the villain in the face on the next page. I usually have Jane making very small movements, but this big sweeping move was something she’d do as Thor. That was really satisfying to draw, and is one of my favorite pages from the whole series.”
Aaron’s had massive success outside of the Big Two with creator-owned books, and has found working with Marvel to be a fulfilling experience enabling him to tell a variety of stories. “Probably my favorite part of my job is that I get to tell completely different stories week to week,” Aaron told us. “I love what I’m doing right now for Marvel. And I love what I’ve got coming up for them. I am seriously as happy there as I’ve ever been. I’m also loving the creator-owned stuff I’m doing at Image, which is all about as different from my Marvel stuff as you can get. All of that together helps keep me sane, helps keep me productive and excited. I never feel like I’m telling the same story over and over. Every week is a new challenge. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
And what about Jane’s future? Many fans were worried when Marvel released the Legacy homage cover for Thor which referenced the first Marvel original graphic novel by Jim Starlin,
Can Kylo Ren lift Thor’s hammer?
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