I first started reading comic books when my mom would take me to the nearby grocery store, called Lucky’s. They had a dedicated kid’s books and comics section. I would go over there and read comics and eventually my mom would swing by and get me. It’s not a great origins story, but that’s where it starts so I’ll have to lie in later re-tellings to make it interesting.
Anyway, I suspect that’s where I read my first Thor comic. I’ve been a Thor fan off and on for a big part of my life. I don’t think I’ve ever owned a Thor comic until yesterday though. When I was a kid it was during the Eric Masterson period of Thor. Eric Masterson was an architect who became endowed with the power of Thor. I’m not exactly sure what the circumstances were, I think Thor had to go somewhere, so they left Mjolnir with Eric Masterson.
Whoa, I just went to wikipedia to try and figure out what happened and shit is complicated.
I’m pretty sure that Eric Masterson was just Eric Masterson in a Thor costume. Later Thor comics (see: J. Michael Straczynski) really emphasized the schizophrenic natuture of Thor. The original Thor was two guys in one body, I think, Donald Blake and a god named Thor.
Eventually Eric Masterson was retired as Thor but as a consolation was given an uru mace knockoff of Mjolnir called Thunderstrike, and he then became the most 90s hero I can think of. Thunderstrike had a vest, a ponytail, and an earring. That guy was so cool. Then he died.
I kept reading Thor off and on over the years. For a while Thor dropped the whole “bound to a mortal” thing, decided to drop shirts altogether, and just laid around on Earth having sex with one of his villains, the Enchantress. That was a really weird period.
So yesterday I was in a bookstore and saw a new Thor trade paperback with the new lady Thor on the cover. I’ve been curious about that one for a while, and I heard it was good, so I bought it. And yeah, it’s really good. It opens on the Moon where you are introduced to a really great mystery: why can’t Thor pick up the hammer? Also, apparently in between Dark Reign and now, Odin has been resurrected. Odin then abdicated the throne to his wife, Fryga, and went off somewhere to do some things. No one really cares. Only in the beginning of this comic he returns and there’s real friction about who is in control now that Odin is back. Odin thinks it’s Odin, but everyone else is kind of like… eh, Fryga is way less of an asshole.
Thor is seriously depressed, and why wouldn’t he be? Just the only object in the universe the defined his existence is totally not returning his calls. It’s always been a little unclear to me where Thor’s powers end and Mjolnir’s powers begin, but it looks pretty clear to me from this that Thor is actually, as an Asgardian, really tough and really strong.
So then Frost Giants attack some super-tech corporation holdings, led by Malekith, the bad guy from Thor: Dark World only like a million times less boring in this version. Thor travels to the bottom of the ocean (I assume by goat drawn chariot) to battle giants with an axe, for which I applaud him. I enjoy it when people are like, “My magic hammer won’t work so I’ll go with a non-magical axe!” Though I think the axe is a little magical.
Thor promptly loses to the giants and Malekith and then MALEKITH CUTS OFF THOR’S ARM. That’s some Game of Thrones level messed up stuff here. Of course this is comics where death is temporary so… whatever.
Thor gets rushed back to Asgard only to find out that SOMEONE has picked up the hammer and gone off to kick butt. Also his mom is missing. So he stands still long enough to get a magic prosthetic arm and rushes off again.
Now, bear in mind that within the last couple of years Thor has mastered the Odinforce, destroyed Asgard and ended a cycle of rebirth and reincarnation, then rebuilt Asgard, reincarnated all the gods, gave up his super-god powers, then died (Fear Itself) and is now back again. My point? I’m not sure where Thor is on the emotional spectrum right now, and I wonder how much of this Thor even has all of that integrated into him.
So the new Thor is some mystery woman and I like her. She plays up the schizophrenic aspect of Thor a lot considering she’s shown to be thinking things (obviously as a mortal) but speaking and acting like Thor. Which leads me to believe that “Thor” the super powered … uh, let’s say consciousness is independent of Thor, the guy who was born on Asgard. “Thor”, in my head anyway, is downloaded into this lady who is now both Thor and whoever the hell she is. Thor, the guy, is now just a guy.
Anyway, the new Thor runs off and starts wrecking people’s faces all up and down the place with her magical hammer. Like she pulls some serious hammer tricks that people comment they’ve never seen Thor do and to be honest I don’t remember Thor doing either. During part of a fight she’s separated from the hammer and we learn that she’s subject to the old if-I’m-away-from-the-hammer-too-long-I-turn-back-into-a-mortal clause, which really makes me wonder why Thors bother throwing the hammer at all. Thor, the guy, obviously didn’t have this problem because he was Thor AND he was “Thor”, I guess.
The the guy, who is named Thor, shows up and starts fighting the lady, who is Thor. Thor’s, the guy Thor, being a kind of a dick about things but I chalk that up hey, I used to be a super-god, then I was a god, and now I’m a guy syndrome. The lady, who is Thor, manages to get him to pull his head from his ass and they get back on mission, by the end of which Thor, the guy, is like, “Look, I’m not Thor anymore, you’re Thor obviously because my girlfriend-hammer chose you, so now I’m Odinson.”
And that’s how we got the character named Odinson, which is kind of a good twist and I like it. Odinson’s been through some serious shit, and I kind of like that he gets to take a break. Seriously, the guy is like Jean-Luc Picard by the end of Star Trek: The Next Generation, he seriously needs some time off after you know… dying two or three times.
Thor, the new Thor and now the only Thor, is like cool. She flies off and Odinson goes home to find out that Odin’s like doubling down on being a jerk and has hired Thor’s evil uncle, who killed Thor not too long ago, to be the minister of justice. It turns out that this new Odin (who I suspect was created out of Odinson’s impression of Odin so might be an extra dick because of it) is like oh man this is a great idea, and everyone else in the universe can see that hiring a super evil guy will not work out well.
Odinson’s mom shows up and I enjoy that she has more of a role in this than she did in Dark World, where she died. She’s like, “Oh yeah, I went down to Earth with an army to stop the Frost Giants because your dad is way dumb this time around.” Frygason fistbumps his moms.
Yeah, I’m just going to call him Frygason because Odinson is way too much Odin.
Frygason tries to figure out who the new Thor is while Odin tries to do the same using magic and shit, and Odin is super grumpy about the whole thing though Frygason is pretty chill. Frygason literally walks around with a list with every woman he knows written on it, asking women if they’re Thor.
Seriously. This guy. The guy is ridiculous. I’m starting to like him a lot.
Anyway, the series is good, it introduces two really good mysteries (who is new Thor? Why can’t Frygason pick up Mjolnir?) and some built in conflicts (Malekith vs Asgard, Odin vs Fryga, Evil Uncle vs Everybody). The new Thor is a pretty interesting character because we see her thoughts and her actions do not align in a way that seems to imply that she’s simultaneously somebody AND Thor.
I’m pretty stoked for more. The one thing I’m looking forward to (and I’m afraid will be delayed because Marvel HAD to do it’s Crisis on Infinite Earths for some dumb reason) is that I really want new Thor to meet Beta Ray Bill.
BETA. RAY. BILL. The best Thor character of all time and, in a weird way, a precursor to new Thor. You see Beta Ray Bill is an alien cyborg who was able to pick up the hammer of Thor, and so became Thor. They later made him his own awesome hammer (STORMBREAKER) and he ran off to do his own things, like fight space Fire Demons. Which, you know, AWESOME.
Actually, with Stormbreaker as a precedent, I don’t know why they just don’t make Frygason a new hammer with less picky enchantments on it. Anyway, I can more easily recommend this comic than many of the others I read regularly. There’s definitely that period of people being like, “Whoa, new Thor is cool and yet different from Frygason!” but trust me, it’s handled much better than most comics I’ve seen that have introduced a new character as the main character.