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Post By
Late Great Donald Blake

Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 5,640
In Reply To
Upper_Krust

Member Since: Fri Aug 21, 2015
Posts: 216
Subj: Re: The Politics of Marvel Comics, and Common Ground for the Thor board.  [a short essay]
Posted: Fri Dec 29, 2017 at 02:36:54 pm EST (Viewed 133 times)
Reply Subj: Re: The Politics of Marvel Comics, and Common Ground for the Thor board.  [a short essay]
Posted: Fri Dec 29, 2017 at 06:30:05 am EST (Viewed 141 times)

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    Quote:
    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.


I agree he has done all that, but at the end of the day (Four years on) we are left with TWO unlikeable Thor's.


    Quote:
    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.


This is one of the key themes of Aaron's run (in effect espousing his Atheist beliefs* ).

*Onto a Universe where there is clear evidence gods exist.

Aaron's position is that the gods are not worthy, but anyone turning a casual glance back to the past 50+ years of continuity will see how many times Thor has been responsible for saving not only countless lives, not only the Earth multiple times but also the Galaxy several times (and probably the Universe as well).

I recall Dan Slott's She-Hulk run from about 10+ years ago. In it, Hercules was being sued by some civilian who got hurt during Hercules battle with a villain. She-Hulk (Herc's lawyer) outlined to the civilian how Hercules had personally saved the Earth (and everyone on it) 58 times (or something like that).

This alone makes a mockery of Aaron's point that the gods are unworthy.


    Quote:
    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?


We see this answered in Thor: Ragnarok with one sentence from Odin "Your not the god of hammers".


    Quote:
    Who is he without the winged helmet, which is to say who is he without the mantle of Thor?


Its not so much who he is but who he isn't.

He isn't a hero.
He isn't a warrior.
He isn't a role model/icon.


    Quote:
    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.


He's been sidelined to occasional supporting character in his own book.


    Quote:
    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.


Explaining things isn't Aaron's strength and I think a bunch of stuff has been twisted to suit his...dare I say 'agenda'?


    Quote:
    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.


I agree with this.

While I dislike Aaron's Thor (he's no hero in my eyes...and neither is Jane) he certainly has more to deal with than at any other point in his history.

Unfortunately I read comics to be entertained, not depressed.

While I want to see Thor experience hardship and struggle, I want to see him rise above it to win. Its coming on FOUR YEARS we've had to stomach this stuff.


    Quote:
    (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.


Sulky Lush...I like that. \:\)


    Quote:
    (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.


Politics aside I'd probably like his run.


    Quote:
    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.


From the Previews we see Thor does NOT get Mjolnir back after this and he gets a new metal arm (suggesting Mangog destroys the existing one). Plus the old Thor timeline from Aaron also suggests he retains a metal arm.


    Quote:
    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.


If losing the arm doesn't matter, why lose it at all?

The answer being simply to emasculate and disfigure Thor, because Aaron doesn't want him to be any sort of alpha male hero.

Don't get me wrong, I applaud character progression/development as much as the next person but IF you are going to cut off a hero's arm, then for goodness sake make it the most bad@ss scene imaginable, not two throwaway Frost Giants holding him down for wimpy Malekith.

I agree he has done all that, but at the end of the day (Four years on) we are left with TWO unlikeable Thor's.


LGDB: I really don't want to be a contrarian, but I don't agree.  I don't think either have been unlikable.  I think the real Thor needs to sort of get his ass in gear, that is, get out of the self-doubt funk, but I imagine he will.  I think Aaron is writing Thor as a kind of dynamic character.   That he's going through something that we can imagine he'll overcome.  I think people are mistaking the nadir of Aaron's Thor Odinson story arc with a new status quo he's trying to create.

As far as Jane-Thor I agree a bit more that she's being written as somewhat unlikable.  But I think this depends somewhat on your perspective and how sensitive you are to attitude.  Aaron seems to be writing Jane as headstrong, unapologetic, decisive, and so on.  Basically I think he's writing Jane with the same character traits and behavior we might associate with Thor.  I think there's some portion of fans that are a bit misogynistic and find it off-putting or even offensive to see "strong women", which is to say women exhibiting characteristics we associate with dominant men.  I think it's true that there's probably an underlying unconscious bias most of us have with men and women; that we perceive the same behaviors and reactions differently depending on whether the subject is a man or woman.  (I know, I know, you've heard this all before.) 

 But, I do think Aaron takes this too far.  Sometimes Jane's assertiveness moves into a down right rudeness or even abusiveness.  Her decisiveness sometimes slips into recklessness or even a propensity towards being prone to violence.  In otherwords, in trying to write Jane as a strong woman, sometimes she reads more like a bad man.  Somes Jane-Thor reads more like overcompensation for equality.  Moreover, it's not clear to me whether this is intentional on Aaron's part.  If it is, his writing is more sophisticated than I would have originally given it credit.  If he's not self aware about it, I'd say it's understandable given how difficult the territory is to navigate.  That Jane, in the context of trying to save the world can be kind of a bitch sometimes just isn't a capital crime.  And to put it in relative gender context, it's not as if comics are untouched by ornery heroes.  Namor, Quicksilver, the Hulk, Wolverine, etc. are all characters that can be unapologetic jerks, but it's the reason we love them.  Or at very least we love them more in spite of these character flaws.  




This is one of the key themes of Aaron's run (in effect espousing his Atheist beliefs* ).

*Onto a Universe where there is clear evidence gods exist.

Aaron's position is that the gods are not worthy, but anyone turning a casual glance back to the past 50+ years of continuity will see how many times Thor has been responsible for saving not only countless lives, not only the Earth multiple times but also the Galaxy several times (and probably the Universe as well).

I recall Dan Slott's She-Hulk run from about 10+ years ago. In it, Hercules was being sued by some civilian who got hurt during Hercules battle with a villain. She-Hulk (Herc's lawyer) outlined to the civilian how Hercules had personally saved the Earth (and everyone on it) 58 times (or something like that).

This alone makes a mockery of Aaron's point that the gods are unworthy.


LGDB:  Well I think you're conflating a theme in his story for a point he's trying to make or a position he's holding.  I think doubt in the gods is something that gets bandied back in forth by characters in the story, and the issue is thematic, but I don't think it's clear this is a point Aaron is trying to make.  Afterall, he's certainly writing god characters that are noble and heroic even while he's calling into question the legitimacy of the gods. While in this point in our story, Thor's decided gods aren't worthy, the larger story has been more complicated.   As a matter of fact I think his God Butcher sort of conflicts with your speculation about his position on gods.  What is a Gorr but a character whose overly anti-god zeal lead him to become a genocidal monster who became a dark and deformed version of the very thing he hated.  Aaron's angle for that portion of the story certainly wasn't Gorr was right.  I don't think that's how you depict a character whose meant to extol your values.  So, I wouldn't mistake this doubt that's snuck into Thor's head in the context of the story with a value that the larger story means to communicate.  I think Aaron's position as articulated by the story is that the gods aren't above judgment or the gods aren't above ethical reproach.  That a gods moral status is dictated by their actions and not by their station.

And Aaron might be an atheist, but there are a lot of different kinds of atheism and different reason for being one.  I'm personally an atheist, but that's only because I doubt the existence of god or gods.  I think evidence and argument (from what I've come to) don't lead to that conclusion.  But I don't have disdain for the concept of gods.  If gods exist I wouldn't be repulsed by pure dint of their divinity.  I mean my favorite character of all time is a god. lol  So, I can't go along with the idea that because Aaron is an atheist his story that's critical of the idea of gods is an automatic expression of that atheism.  



We see this answered in Thor: Ragnarok with one sentence from Odin "Your not the god of hammers".


LGDB: Well yeah, this is a great moment, but it's just a single line.  It's not the sort of expansive Thor story that Aaron is weaving.  I take your point that you don't NEED to write a story to make this point.  But you don't NEED to write a story for any reason.  What I was getting at is that Aaron had created a Thor story where Thor is struggling with his identity and that that was one way he was creating a multidimensional depiction of Thor who was dealing with an inner tension, and those are elements to good story telling.  I don't mean to say that him writing this kind of story was the only way we were going to get at an answer.  



  Its not so much who he is but who he isn't.

He isn't a hero.
He isn't a warrior.
He isn't a role model/icon.


LGDB:  This is the part I guess I can't understand.  I mean Thor's definitely doing heroic things in Aaron's run.  He's still fighting the good fight and risking his life to do what's right.  He's undoubtedly being a warrior; he's kicking ass all over the place.  I alluded to a few examples in my previous post.  I could name more, but Thor not being a warrior for me is a hard sell.  Him not being a role model/icon I think is a bit harder to argue.  I mean currently, self doubting drinking Thor probably isn't a good one, and without the hammer, cape, and helmet all the markers of icon have been kind of stripped away, so I'd reservedly concede that last one.  We'll just have to see what happens.  



He's been sidelined to occasional supporting character in his own book.

LGDB:  Yeah this part just kind of sucks.  Like I said, I'd prefer it were a 50/50 split if Aaron was going to do this story.  Rather than the kind of 85/15 ratio we've been getting.  I think this was a tactical error on Aaron's part in that it alienated a lot of older fans, and it doesn't serve the story that all that much.  That is to say that if this story was as much Thor's story as it was Jane's, even with her having Mjolnir and him struggling with doubt, I think fans would have accepted it as a story of Thor suffering or being temporarily laid low or dealing with being replaced.  This is a theme I think fans classically are patient with or even appreciate it.  I think replacing him in this semi-permanent, open ended way was the real error that drove fans away in droves.  And didn't really attract more new fans than I think a 50/50 split would have. 



From the Previews we see Thor does NOT get Mjolnir back after this and he gets a new metal arm (suggesting Mangog destroys the existing one). Plus the old Thor timeline from Aaron also suggests he retains a metal arm.


LGDB:  Well he's getting a hammer back.  Still pretty mysterious as to where it comes from or how it comes into being.

***my theory is that it's going to be forged out of what's left of Mangog's body after he's defeated.   Which is why it's gold.

But I'm sure eventually Thor's going to be reunited with Mjolnir.  If not by Aaron himself, then by the next writer.  I could be wrong, but I think that's where the good money's at.


If losing the arm doesn't matter, why lose it at all?

The answer being simply to emasculate and disfigure Thor, because Aaron doesn't want him to be any sort of alpha male hero.

Don't get me wrong, I applaud character progression/development as much as the next person but IF you are going to cut off a hero's arm, then for goodness sake make it the most bad@ss scene imaginable, not two throwaway Frost Giants holding him down for wimpy Malekith.


LGDB:  Yeah I don't really get this either.  I don't think it's meant to emasculate Thor in that if that was the goal you'd do something that would affect Thor's abilities or performance.  In this case Thor with his real arm and Thor with his uru arm appear to operate at virtually the same different.  I think technically it does disfigure him, but he actually looks pretty cool with it.  Part of me thinks that the decision purely aesthetic.  But there could be other reasons.  Like, maybe Aaron just wanted to put him mark on the character in a more permanent way and he's hoping that further creative teams will keep it going.  Or maybe it's just meant to symbolize everything that Thor has lost.   Or further, maybe he's emphasizing how important the hammer is to Thor in that Thor loses his arm and his hammer (lol arm & hammer) but that he's way more upset about losing the hammer.

Agreed that if it had been me, I definitely would have made it a bigger scene.


cheers,
---the late great Donald Blake   



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