WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Thor #7 from Jason Aaron, Tony Moore, John Rauch and VC's Joe Sabino.
Since his introduction by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby in the '60s, Thor has been one of Marvel's most intriguing characters. As an Asgardian god, he's been through many adventures, journeyed into every mystery he could find, fighting for the Nine Realms whenever called upon. But as much as he's a son of Asgard and Odin, Thor is also a son of the Earth.
His mother, Gaea, is an Earth goddess, so Thor has defended Midgard as if it were his own, whether it be while flying solo or with the Avengers. In Jason Aaron and Tony Moore's Thor #7, though, we finally get the real reason this particular realm holds a firm grip on the Odinson's mind, body and soul.
In this issue, we learn Midgard burrowed its way into Thor's heart ages before Odin cast him into the body of Donald Blake in order to learn a lesson in humility. This origin story is well-known; the All-Father wanted to teach his petulant son a lesson, and as he spent time in a mortal body, he fell in love with Jane Foster. Of course, Loki's invasion would bring the truth to light, with Thor eventually using Blake as a vessel to connect him to Earth, but considering his mother was an earth deity, and Jane taught him about the people of Midgard, we assumed these were the reasons he fought for us.
And while that may be true, we now have fresh insight into the the real reason Thor has always been linked to Earth as Aaron dives back into his younger days. Issue #7 paints him as a young drunk, spending time in Midgard with Vikings while neglecting his duties with Odin. But Loki devises a plan using the most powerful force in the cosmos: Love. With Odin's blessing, they drop Thor to Earth in the heat of a Viking battle where he saves the life of a Viking woman called Erika the Red.
She's bigger than him, nearly as strong, and strikingly beautiful, which basically means it's love at first sight. They banter a bit, but sensing kindred spirits in each other, they fall in love and go on several adventures together. It's actually Thor's first time falling in love, and he learns about mortality thanks to Erika. She helps him to even understand why Odin expects more of him, which is why it's bittersweet when the Allfather -- angry that his son has yet to come home -- conspires with Loki to create a war to draw Thor back to his godly duties.
He leaves to deal with Dark Elves and Dwarves, even after Erika begs him to stay. While he loves her, he can't abandon his comrades. Eventually, Thor returns, but sadly, it's 40 years too late and just three days after she died. He finds out she waited on him, even in her old age. With a broken heart, Thor decides to honor her by striving to become someone worth of protecting her realm -- which is probably why Odin thought throwing him into Blake's body would be a good idea years later. His memory would be wiped but it's clear Odin felt familiar territory would evoke his altruistic traits once more.
And so it did, turning him into the hero Erika knew he could be and a defender of Midgard. What's also interesting is Erika is reminiscent of the woman Thor's falling for at present -- the powered-up She-Hulk. In fact, he's so smitten with Jen Walter, he recently had a heart-to-heart with Carol Danvers in Avengers #700, asking how he should approach his emerald teammate after their first kiss.
Given Aaron scripted that too, it makes a great companion piece to this endearing and highly sentimental love story at hand in Thor #7, and even has hopeless romantics wondering if Erika could have been reincarnated as Jen Walters. It may be wishful thinking, but Thor's world is a mystical one, so you never know.