Marvel announces new Thor – and she’s a lady

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”.

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4 comments

  1. If Marvel really wanted an asgardian Heroine in the spotlight they would have just pushed Valkyrie or Sif, bad enough there’s already a Thor girl. Funny how they stay quiet about She-Hulk (one of the longest running solo heroines they have) or Captain Marvel (who surpassed the male original in terms of popularity) Even X-23, with the obvious Wolverine connection, doesn’t get this kind of PR.

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    1. I agree – I would much rather see existing characters get more attention than things like this. However, Marvel is most certainly going for the publicity hype of GIRL THOR and trying to bring in those fabled new readers that never come in for this type of thing. Remember when the new Ms. Marvel – Muslim Female Hero – was the big deal?

      As for the other heroines who have solo books as well, I like how they tossed out that they have EIGHT female lead books, but don’t even namedrop a single one of them. Why not say “joining the likes of She-Hulk and Captain Marvel” to get these new people to look at something else before October.

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      1. I find this type of promotion comparable to WWE desperately trying to garner attention by latching on to any 2-bit celebrity they can find, yes having Mr-T in the first Wrestlemania main event brought them unprecedented main-stream attention, but it’s been seen having someone like Snooki decades later will not entice the Jersey Shore fans to drop $50-$60 to watch. Likewise, Superman’ s Death intrigued many back in the day, but now the same people know it’s no big deal. Even well received status quo stunts like Dick Grayson as Batman, Bucky as Captain America or Superior Spider-Man are obviously just building to the “real” characters return.

        As someone who (after moving on from reading his dad’s old comics) started buying his own with Justice League International, it does annoy me that Jaimie Reyes is one of the character flips they won’t drop. Booster Gold was so poorly represented the new 52 JLI: What if the characters had no souls? Reboot, I just want to see him and Ted as they were in their own book.

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