When the new Thor #1 comic book hits stands and digital stores today, the God of Thunder may look a little different than you remember. Sure, the series will still focus on a superhero wielding the mighty hammer Mjolnir, but with one key difference: Thor will be a woman.
No, the Thor you know isn’t changing genders. Much like the recent announcement about Captain America, this means mantle of the Norse hero will be passed on to a different character entirely — one who happens to be female. So far, Marvel Comics is staying mum about her identity, but Thor writer Jason Aaron — whose creator-owned crime comic Men of Wrath also debuts from Marvel’s Icon imprint in October — offered a bit more insight into the series and the woman behind the mask.
What inspired you to hand the hammer to a female character, and why now?
Well, I knew I was moving towards a story about the previous Thor becoming unworthy, and not being able to pick up the hammer. Thor is always questioning his worthiness. I love the idea that he wakes up every morning and looks at the hammer and doesn’t know if he can pick it up. I wanted to get to the point where he couldn’t. Which raises the question of, if he can’t pick up, who does? It’s not just about making a change for the sake of a press release [or] the gimmick of changing Thor to be a lady… I just wanted to tell a story, and it’s one I’m excited to tell.
What exactly makes this mystery woman—or anyone—worthy of Mjolnir? How does that litmus test work?
We’ve seen different answers to that over the course of Thor’s history. We’ve seen people able to pick it up in certain situations, but not in others. I like the idea that this hammer is somehow able to make that determination. It was an enchantment put on this weapon by Odin many years ago, but now it’s grown beyond its enchanter and become more of a character in and of itself. We want this new Thor to be different from the previous one, and part of that will be her relationship with the hammer.
How will the gender of the new Thor affect the way you approach the series? After all, the inscription on Thor’s hammer itself says, “Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.”
That inscription is very much the focus of the first issue… Also, Odin has returned to Asgard for the first time in several years, but while he was gone [his wife] Freya took power as the All Mother. There’s a very different political situation hinging on this struggle between Odin and Freya, because now she has a very different role than she had before. Those ideas all tie into the history of Asgard and roles of men and women in it. When you read some of the old [Thor] stories, Odin is omnipotent. He’s the ultimate deus ex machina; everyone bows to him. I like the idea of that guy coming back and thinking it’ll be like it was in the old days, but it’s not.
The former Thor certainly had his share of romances over the years. Should we expect any handsome men in the future of the new Thor?
Not right away. She’s got a lot on her plate coming out the gate, like Frost Giants invading the Earth, as well as the first-day-on-the-job kind of troubles. But down the road, who knows?
When new characters take over for iconic superheroes, the changes are rarely permanent. How long should we expect this new Thor to stick around?
All I can say is that when we had our most recent Marvel retreat, we were talking about stories going all the way to 2016, and when we talked about Thor, we were talking about her. This is not something we’re gonna wipe away in six months, or in time for the [upcoming] Avengers movie. For the foreseeable future, she’s Thor.
Outside of your superhero work, you’re still a prolific creator of creator-owned comics as well, including southern crime comics like Southern Bastards and the upcoming Men of Wrath. Do you find that independent comics scratch an itch that superhero books don’t, and vice versa?
I remain incredibly excited about the work I get to do for Marvel and grateful for the opportunities they’ve given me, but from a business standpoint, it always makes sense to be working on something that you own and control. And from a creative standpoint, I just love the chance to explore different genres. Keeps me from ever getting bored or feeling creatively confined. I love superhero comics. I wouldn’t have a career without superhero comics. But the medium of comics is capable of absolutely anything. Any sort of story you can imagine. Anything you can convince somebody to draw. As a writer, working within just one genre all the time feels a bit like eating nothing but hamburgers for every meal. I love hamburgers as much as the next guy, but some days I really want tacos, you know?
Laura Hudson is a Portland-based writer and the founding editor of ComicsAlliance. Her work has appeared in Wired, Complex, and Rock Paper Shotgun. She does not suffer fools gladly and tweets at @laura_hudson.