Goddess of Thunder

Thor cape

Thor, Goddess of Thunder?

By now you have undoubtedly heard the news that Marvel has decided have a woman take over the role of Thor in the current comic book continuity. It’s been in the news ever since it was announced on The View this past Tuesday. And naturally, a slew of internet rage from cowardly fanboys followed on Twitter and Facebook, complete with death threats. Marvel Executive Editorial Director Ryan Penagos (@AgentM) tweeted “Was just called a gay slur and told to get cancer because of the Thor news. Go Internet!”. 

It seems people are pretty passionate about Thor, but despite some spineless internet trolls, the majority of responses have been overwhelmingly positive. Gender swapping is a fan favorite in cosplay and fan fiction and is hugely popular in the comic world. Just go to ComiCon and you’ll see. Spider-Man scribe Greg Pak (@gregpak) tweeted, “When STORM #1 (or the female Thor or the black Captain America book) does well, more doors open. You and your dollars have the power.”

Old News

Truth is, female versions of male comic book characters have been around for a long time. Even before Wonder Woman, who debuted in All-Star Comics #8 in December 1941, (and is essentially a female Superman) Hawkgirl appeared in Flash Comics #1 alongside Hawkman. And “Lois Lane - Superwoman” was a story in Action Comics #60 (May 1943) where the idea of a female Superman was first portrayed, 15 years before Supergirl (Kara Zor-El) appeared in Action Comics #252 (May 1959). There is one website I found that lists 307 different female versions of male superheroes. Some even I haven't heard of.

A female Thor isn’t that new of a concept either. The character of Jane Foster took the mantle of Thor in an issue of What If? and became the first female Thor in comics, Thorite, back in 1978. She was the inspiration for the character in the Alex Ross/Jim Kreuger/John Paul Leon series for Marvel, called Earth X. And Thor Girl was a character created by Dan Jurgens and John Romita, Jr. back in 2000. Both Wonder Woman and Storm were deemed worthy enough to wield the Mjölnir and assumed the mantle of Thor briefly in the DC vs. Marvel crossover.

Wonder Women

"FemaleLoki" by scan. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia.

The first comic I ever bought, back in 1980 in Edmund, Oklahoma, was The Savage She-Hulk, a female Hulk, which caused much teasing from my older brother Rob. Savage She-Hulk #1 was a comic written by Stan Lee and there were no real expectations for the character except to ensure Marvel retained copyright of the name She-Hulk. That way DC couldn’t come along and create a She-Hulk of their own. I’ve always loved the idea of female versions of male superheroes and strong women in general, because I grew up watching shows like Wonder Woman, Bionic Woman, The Mighty Isis, Charlie’s Angels, Police Woman, etc (and yes, I did twirl around like Lynda Carter, hoping to transform into Wonder Woman). It was the 70s and Women’s Lib was big. 

I think a lot of the people who are getting so upset are actually not comic book readers at all, because if they had read any amount of comic books in their life they would realize that nothing last forever in comics. Or maybe they are people who thought the female Thor was somehow going to be the male Thor transitioning into a female Thor and that made some people uncomfortable. Although transgendered people are gaining more awareness, like Orange is the New Black star Laverne Cox on the cover of TIME, some people are still threatened and/or confused by the Trans community. I kind of wish they would do it this way, having him turn into a woman. It’s not unheard of, considering Thor’s half-brother Loki transitioned into a woman for a period of time.

It’s all about the benjamins

Marvel has stated that the female Thor is part of a larger initiative to include more diverse characters and more female driven comics to their line, which I’m happy about, but their motivation is not for social change as much as extra change in their wallets. Even people who’ve never heard of Thor before might go down to the comic store and buy a copy with all the press coverage and mega-hype. The day after announcing the female Thor they announced there would also be a black Captain America which just kept Marvel in the headlines and Twittersphere longer, as racist internet cowards vented their frustration. But just as with the Thor news, the majority of comment are very positive.

Marvel insists that this isn’t going to be She-Thor, or Lady Thor, but the one and only Thor and that it will last for a while. We’ll see if she’s still Thor When Avengers 2 comes out and they suddenly want Man-Thor back in the comics.

Cynicism aside, I am very excited where Marvel is headed with the comic line. They seem willing to be creative and inclusive without having to just start everything over again from the beginning like DC did many times.

I will be reserving mine at Phantom of The Attic, and I hope you will too. 

© phantomofthecloset.com 2014