Dave Galanter
December 1st 1969 - December 12th 2020
He was loved.

The Thor Message Board >> View Post
Post By
Late Great Donald Blake

Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 6,965
In Reply To

Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 7,959
Subj: Re: The Politics of Marvel Comics, and Common Ground for the Thor board.  [a short essay]
Posted: Thu Dec 28, 2017 at 04:35:19 pm EST (Viewed 357 times)
Reply Subj: Re: The Politics of Marvel Comics, and Common Ground for the Thor board.  [a short essay]
Posted: Sat Dec 23, 2017 at 08:21:08 pm EST (Viewed 412 times)

Previous Post

I agree with you on some of your points.   I think diversity is good if done right.  The Runaways and Blue Marvel all added diversity before the current trend and they did an excellent job of adding to it.  I agree that Marvel does not have an overall agenda aside from making money.  I think they started replacing old heroes in the hope it would attract more readers.  I agree it was in some cases poorly done especially in responding to criticism of it.  And I do agree that the current writers are left leaning.

That said, I think Aaron has done a terrible job at the diversity and has been shoving an agenda down the readers throats in a ham-handed way.

I think a female Thor had a lot of potential.  If they had wanted to make the wielder of Mjolnir a female minority little person that would be fine if done well.  I wouldn't mind Thor not being the center or really that involved in events.  I tend to avoid those and Thor is usually treated badly in those. 

Aaron though has been very hit or miss.  The War of Realms and exploring what it means to be worthy are intriguing ideas.  Yet instead of exploring them in a thoughtful manner Aaron has made the opposing side one-dimensional caricatures and character shelling Jane all to push an agenda and make characters fit a story they do not fit so he changes or ignores anything that blocks it.

You have Odin the Great White Bloodthirsty Patriarch with the temperament of a child and ignores the other realms contrary to all previous charcterization.

Odinson the Nameless Drunkard who I am still trying to figure out what makes him unworthy. 

Hercules the Reformed Buffoon who insist on an arm wrestling contest despite the urgency.

Titania the Sudden Feminist who stops a fight out of female solidarity despite trying to murder She-Hulk for over twenty years.

The Mother Storm which retcons the the specialty of Mjolnir and Odin wielding it.

Freyja the Reasonable who is victimized by Odin the Great White Bloodthirsty Patriarch.

Finally, you have Jane Foster who suddenly finds herself on the moon and can wield Mjolnir despite having to not go through any tests to prove if she even can wield a war hammer without any training.  Yet, somehow not only can she wield it, but she can do it better than Thor so much that she gets his name and reputation that he earned over centuries of work.  I have yet to see why she is worthy over Thor considering she behaves very similar to how Thor has usually behaved. 

Please explain to me how this has been multidimensional, impressive and interesting with only superficial damage.  What I see are a bunch of impressive ideas constantly being interrupted by a writer who is clumsily trying to shove an agenda down the readers throats by taking shortcuts with unexplained retcons, characterizations coming out of nowhere, character shelling along with the occasional fourth wall breaking to stick it to anyone who dislikes the writing.

With this last part I am trying to not talk about the political angle, but the way it has been conveyed itself I find to be poorly done.  Yes, there are some very good parts and the art is excellent.  Yet each time I try to read an issue and get into the story I am pulled out of it by one or more of the above.

"Please explain to me how this has been multidimensional, impressive and interesting with only superficial damage.  What I see are a bunch of impressive ideas constantly being interrupted by a writer who is clumsily trying to shove an agenda down the readers throats by taking shortcuts with unexplained retcons, characterizations coming out of nowhere, character shelling along with the occasional fourth wall breaking to stick it to anyone who dislikes the writing."

LGDB: Well honestly I don't think this is the kind of thing we can argue about productively.  We can certainly talk about it, but I mean, I think that preference and aesthetic judgement is grounded so subjectively, that if for instance you don't enjoy something or judge it harshly, it isn't very likely going to change your opinion about things if I tell you I felt the opposite.  The point of my post wasn't so much to try and talk people into liking things they don't rightly like.

But just to answer your question clearing up what I meant.  I think Aaron's run has depicted Thor as (1) multidimensional (2) impressive (3) interesting:

    (1) by multidimensional I just meant that Aaron's Thor is complicated.  Thor fans on this board tend to emphasize all the moments in the run where Thor acts unfavorable, while sort of ignoring Thor's good moments in the series.  There have been plenty of moments where Aaron portrays Thor as valorous and like the old Thor we all know and love.  Thor taking Jane to the moon in the God of Thunder run is a great example of that, but this stuff kind of gets drowned out by all the outrage and hand wringing.   I think this Thor has a lot of underlying tension, which is always interesting character work.  As a matter of fact my favorite stories are usually where the plot is propelled by a character's inner tension or ambivalence.  So, Aaron's Thor I think is a character with a bunch of inner strife all at once in a good way.   For one, he's trapped between trying to do what's right to protect the innocent, which means being Thor to the fullest, but he's  also filled with doubt over what it means to be a god, and if being a god can even be done in a benevolent way.  This is a theme I positively adore!  I should say, I'm not entirely sure that it makes sense that this dilemma would cause Thor to be unworthy.  If anything I think that would make him more worthy.  But the stories not over and maybe part of what it'll take to become worthy again will be his accepting that gods can't be perfect.  And using power is always a risk.  So the power of a god always runs a particularly high risk of corruption or abuse.  Perhaps what the Thunder God has to understand is that while most gods suck, a better answer to the problem isn't no gods, but better gods.  I digress.  Point being, Thor dealing with this issue of what it means for a god to be worthy I think is a theme that's always been implicit with the character and I think Thor struggling with this balance of doubt and arrogance is engaging and it adds dimension to the character.  
    And that of course propels him into a kind of second order dilemma which is one of identity.  So, when Thor steps down--which in effect he has by committing to the notion that no gods are worthy--there's also this question of who is he without the hammer?  Who is he without the winged helmet, which is to say who is he without the mantle of Thor?  I understand of course Thor is his name and who he is, but I mean without the mantle of the resident Thunder God that's been usurped by Jane.  So in the context of the story, Thor is trying to figure this out--to better or worse result--and the readers also get to see what how much of Thor is just the hammer, the name, and winged helmet, and how much of him is the character underneath.  
I could go on, but this is basically what I meant when I said Aaron's Thor is multi-dimensional.  And yes I think there have been some problems here or there in the execution.  I think Aaron has had some trouble tying the whole thing together.  Like Thor's doubts in the validity of gods might be enough to shock his confidence and effect his worthiness, but why would Nick Fury saying it to him be a sufficient catalyst?  And what does that have to do with the Mother Storm angle?  Is the mother storm rejecting Thor and his own doubt for the gods just a coincidence?  This is as such unresolved, honestly though, I don't care.  I don't think that kind of inconsistency is enough to affect my feeling about the overall book.  Aaron's Thor has in the main had a compelling level of complexity.  More than the normal Thor writer has ventured.  Honestly, I prefer this to the two-dimensional always steadfast and true characterization.  I think it's more interesting when a character has an inner struggle as well as an outer one.

(2) impressive - This one is somewhat simpler, I just mean that for all the complaints people have had about Aaron's Thor, his has been one of the more consistently powerful depictions of the character.  Thor: God of Thunder saw Thor operating consistently at peak power levels, what with his lifting mountains and falling into stars without dying.  Even after Thor ceded the hammer, he hasn't really been shown as any kind of light weight.  Thor bringing down the thunder without Mjolnir, thanks to Aaron is no longer just a obscure set of occurrences scattered through out the characterizes history, but essentially the mainstream interpretation now, and part of the character's basic power set.  And the UnWorthy Thor miniseries Aaron pinned, Thor was no less the badass.  Thor's manhandling of the Collector and Thanos's stooges without any weapon is up there in terms of relative Thor showings.  Furthermore, Thor outside of his doubt fueled inability to weild Mjolnir, has been shown as consistently heroic throught the series.  Sure he's been a bit of a sulky lush, but he's stood by Jane's side during the nigh-impossible odds of facing off against the Phoenix, the assembled an army of woman warriors against the Destroyer, he was ready to die defending Karnilla, and equally so to prevent the Ultimate Mjolnir from falling into the wrong hands.  So yeah, I think Aaron's Thor has been plenty impressive.

(3) As far as interesting, I just mean I think the story has been well written in terms of having several threads of story woven together effectively.  Aaron's Thor runs I think are well paced, they have a variety of engaging believable characters, and are consistently peppered with bigger than life rewarding moments.  The scope of Aaron's Thor stories always feel very vast.  I think we he writes the 9 Worlds they feel open ended, like there's more and more world and story out there to discover; they don't just feel like the backdrop for the dramatic family squabbles of Asgardian royalty.  I get that this is very subjective, but even leaving aside Thor: God of Thunder which I think was brilliant through and through, I think the Asgard vs Shiar story has been fantastic, and the War of Realms and Mangog stuff is really doing it for me.   I'm very impressed with Aaron's ability to depict classic characters and Thor tropes in stories that are difficult to predict and still provide for intrigue and mystery, and that don't lack big climactic moments.  So yeah, to me interesting.

As far as superficial damage, I mean more plainly that almost anything added in this series that seems like a serious scar will more or less evaporate with the next writer or perhaps even any post Jane, Thor stories.  And whatever change do prove to be lasting, I see them as superficial to the character.  So I think eventually Thor is going to get Mjolnir back.  Things always return to their foundations and I don't think this will be any different.  And Thor's lost an arm, but I don't really think this is all that important.  It's much more like Luke's bionic replacement arm: for all intents and purposes it's just like his regular arm.  I imagine Thor will have his old arm replaced, but if he doesn't matter that much to me.  This one seems to work just as well as the old one.  

---the late great Donald Blake



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