Jane Foster battles both her own body and the body politic in “The Mighty Thor” #1. Though she now possesses the power of a goddess, that power comes with a costly tradeoff: every time she transforms, she undoes the very necessary effects of chemotherapy on her mortal body. Add to that complications from Malekith, Odin and the Congress of Worlds, and writer Jason Aaron has created quite a few problems for the new Goddess of Thunder. Most of this first issue is spent establishing these struggles and the new status quo in Asgard, which doesn’t leave much room for hammer-smashing heroics, but what’s being established here has me super excited for the coming series. Besides, Russell Dauterman and Matthew Wilson have put together some seriously beautiful art that’ll make you fall in love with the Nine Realms all over again. All told, “The Mighty Thor” #1 is a fine, fine first issue.
However readers may feel about the new status quo in Asgard, I don’t think anyone will be disappointed by Dauterman and Wilson’s creativity. Their sumptuous, textured Asgard strikes a wonderful balance between the necessary grandeur of epic fantasy and the inherent, giggly absurdity of Viking aliens. Wilson’s often exuberant palette keeps the severity out of Dauterman’s thinner lines and more meticulous inking, and Dauterman finds the elegant angles in everything from Freyja’s winged headdress to the (literal!) rainbow bridge. The portrayal of Malekith is perhaps the best example of their approach: Dauterman and Wilson manage to inject him with malevolence even with the floor-length hair and pointy shoes.
As with his previous Asgardian series, Aaron capitalizes on the potential of the Ten Realms. Elves, dwarves, giants, fire demons — the gang’s all here, and their competing schemes and priorities add dimension to an otherwise Thor-typical “Odin’s gone power-hungry” storyline. From Freyja’s civil disobedience to Volstagg’s senatorship, Asgard is full of interesting changes. In addition to opening up plot opportunities, this rich backdrop also gives Jane stronger motivation. A Midgardian herself, Jane has no particular tie to Asgard, but she does need to worry about conflicts that consume the whole World Tree.
Speaking of motive, the clever conceit of “The Mighty Thor” #1 — that Jane must endanger her mortal body in order to assume her godly one — also creates a very strong character moment that speaks to what makes this Thor unique. To Jane, her power as an individual, mortal doctor is obviously equal to that of a goddess of Thunder.
Unfortunately, Aaron also utilizes the more regressive politics of traditional fantasy: democracy is impotent, words are nothing next to force and every character’s evil or good intentions can be easily inferred from their world of origin. With so many wonderful, interesting shakeups in this issue, I’d have loved to see a little shift in worldview to go with it.
Still, as a whole, “The Mighty Thor” #1 is a wonderful opener. I’m always happy to see Aaron on an Asgard book; he has a great sense of Thor’s world and what makes it work, and Dauterman and Wilson’s art shows that same understanding of what’s so cool about the Ten Realms. “Mighty Thor” is off to an excellent start.