One of those things that the big comic companies do once in a while is take one of their big heroes and replace them with a new character. Think of Bucky taking over for Captain America or Wally West becoming the Flash. If you really want to upset me, you can bring up Jaime Reyes, but I really wish you wouldn’t.
Thor is a character who has had this happen a couple of times. If you were reading in the 90’s, you might remember Thunderstrike, who had been Thor for a while. The one with the beard.
The God of Thunder is getting another replacement this October when a new Thor series launches (or relaunches, hell I can’t keep up with Marvel’s numbering) and this time…wait for it…it’s a woman.
According to the big announcement:
THOR is the latest in the ever-growing and long list of female-centric titles that continues to invite new readers into the Marvel Universe. This female THOR is the 8th title to feature a lead female protagonist and aims to speak directly to an audience that long was not the target for Super Hero comic books in America: women and girls.
My thoughts on it after the jump.
Oh here we go. I learned from my thoughts on Brian Woods’ adjective-less X-Men featuring the all-ladies team that by calling something a gimmick somehow demeans women and makes me one of those fans that thinks that comics should be for men.
That’s not the case – far from it. I think that strong female characters are a great thing for comics, moving them from being the damsel in distress complaining about her hair of yesteryear into being able to stand next to any male hero you can think of. The likes of Carol Danvers and Storm are a blessing to the industry, not because they “bring the sexy” but because they are powerful, complete characters whom writers have successfully established and give fans who might see them as role models can take very seriously.
(Though, I question the merit of taking a fictional character whose personality changes with writer changes to be a role model. But that’s me.)
What I have a problem with is huge gimmick announcements that pander and go for the big headline. This Thor thing was announced on The View. Because that’s where you go to announce comic book releases. That’s pandering, and not even good pandering. The View’s demographic is middle-aged women – not exactly comic buyers. And before you say it, that doesn’t mean they don’t buy comics – jeez. But it’s like going onto The Doctors to announce a new series for Dr. Hank Pym. It just doesn’t work like you’d think – but it makes a good spectacle.
But perhaps my bigger problem is that trying to present this character as a new female character for female readers, there’s the reality that when the next Avengers movie hits, the female Thor will be quietly wiped away and the huge announcement will be the REAL THOR is back. What do you do with the new character? If you even bother keeping her around (whatever happened to the female Black Panther that was such a big deal a few years back?), then she becomes the Lady-Thor, Thorita, or whatever that you swore she wouldn’t be here.
But more importantly, what does that tell the character’s fans whom you’ve brought in for this? You’re telling them that the girl thing was a gimmick and the male character is more important.
Realistically, that’s not true – it’s more like companies simply prefer the more identifiable characters when something comes along to put a spike in sales – say, like a crazy popular movie franchise. It’s why Steve Rogers will always return to the Captain America role. But the female v. male argument will be made, and the whole cycle continues.
My point – enjoy the gimmick. Hopefully it establishes a new character with some staying power so when she becomes the next Valkyrie or whatever she has a spot with the “big boys”.