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Why Thor #5 Misses the Mark

Thor. The current female one, not the classic version. I wasn’t the most optimistic when her creation was announced. Since then I’ve warmed up to it.  The fact that they’re keeping her identity a mystery adds some much needed depth to the idea, plus it helped that she was pretty solidly written from the beginning. She was confident, driven, and secretly conflicted. It was a character that felt well thought out. One I could get behind.

The first arc of the new Thor comic dealt with Ice Giants stealing back their dead king’s skull and Thor’s attempt to stop it. There was a couple instances of “me fight lady? Ha! This be– OH NO, SHE’S MUCH STRONGER THAN I HAD PREVIOUSLY IMAGINED!” But for the most part, the comic shied away from falling back on that kind of low hanging fruit.

Then came issue five. Oh man. I think I understand what they were aiming for: a clever lampooning of the argument against the character. Which isn’t that’s not bad, it can be done, and, I don’t know, maybe we deserve it. But that’s not why I’m here today. Today I’m here to say it missed the mark.

Unlike Thor Girl of course

How? Let me break it down for you:

The Absorbing Strawman

So, mostly, the argument in question comes down to Thor fighting the Absorbing Man who, in this issue, must have touched a nasty Internet thread because he’s quite the strawman. Upon finding out that his female opponent is the current Thor, he doesn’t take it well.

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So why call this a strawman? I mean, I’m sure somewhere that exact thing was said. That’s true! Some people hated the idea of a woman being Thor just on principle. People hated the idea of a black kid being Spider-Man too. Horrible people. There’s no reason to take those people seriously.

So if you’re going to satirize the arguments against the change, at least pick something other than the most extreme points of view. I mean, all things considered, I think most of the criticisms were in the same vein as mine. A call for new characters instead of what, at the time, appeared to be gimmick.

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Oh. So… okay, sure. As I’ve said earlier, I was a little wrong about female Thor. She is a more fleshed-out character than merely a genderbent Thor. I dig it. Still, the first part of Absorbing Man’s speech isn’t that bad. We do need more female superheroes. Not just revamped ones, new ones with stories we’ve never seen before. I think that’d be amazing, don’t you guys? So in essence, yes, I’d like for a new female character with her own identity.

That said, the rest of his spiel is just nonsense that goes back to the “it’s the feminists!” argument above. Which makes me ask why add in the “get your own identity” part at all. Is it the same kind of argument? I feel like it’s a far cry from a “sensitivity training” joke.

So anyway, this fight goes on for a couple more pages, with Absorbing Man sprinkling in stuff like Tinkerbell, etc, etc. It’s about what you’d expect from a big dumb guy like him.  I just kinda expected it to end like these kinds of fights usually do and his rant would be the last of their confronting the Thor-is-a-female issue.  I was wrong.

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Titania’s Girl Power

When things look bleak, Absorbing Man’s wife Titania shows up. Okay, I think, so a lady versus lady fight. That’s pretty much the logical conclusion at this point. Also, are those big dollar signs on the money bags? Wow, really? Is this comic from the thirties? Or, wait, did they bring those bags? Certainly armored cars don’t use those to carry money, so they made the bags special. Do they forget there’s money in there unless they have huge dollar signs? What are they thinking?

Anyway, Titania sets up for a fight against Thor when — TWIST — she knocks out her husband with a smirk. It turns out, get this, she’s going to turn herself in to Thor because she’s a lady.

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She goes on to specify that she’s giving up because it must be hard to make it as a lady in the superhero game. It’s more like a show of respect than anything, according to her. But before you think this is just some warm-and-fuzzy love fest, it’s a one time girl-power pass, guys.

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Look, isn’t this kind of going against what you’re trying to say? The first four issues were great because people underestimated her, even classic Thor called her a fraud, and she proved herself. She was a character who just happened to be a woman that then had to undergo a trial-by-fire. Here, it’s like she’s a woman first and a Thor character second. It seems counter productive.

This is, however, not the beginning of the backslide. That would be at the end of last issue, which just happens to be the last reason why this issue’s argument missed the mark.

The Smooch Problem

So in the previous issue, Thor #4, classic Thor returns to reclaim his hammer. A fight ensues, there are dramatic moments, a bunch of Frost Giants die, and the hammer chooses our protagonist over classic Thor. Towards the end of the altercation, classic Thor, or Odinson as he now wants to be called, asks our lady Thor if she’s his mother. She responds:

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I call it the smooch problem. Now, in fairness, we don’t know who’s under the helmet, so it could be a past love. However, we don’t ever get that impression. It seems that she’s always in awe of classic Thor because of his reputation. At one point she thinks he looks really sad and wonders if superhero protocol would allow her to hug him. That seems to be the behavior of a stranger.

Which makes the kiss so weird. It’s comes out of nowhere and then they go right into finishing off the Frost Giants never to mention it again. It makes the moment feel artificial and forced. Like they have to lock lips because one’s a dude and one’s a lady. Like, is there no other way to prove you’re not someone’s mother? Just saying no, for instance?

I think this undermines whatthey’re going for with female Thor. It feels disingenuous when you force a moment wherein Thor kisses classic Thor, and then you have the first half of the next issue be a commentary on how bad people treat female characters. At that point you may have missed the mark.

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