Jane chose to pick up Thor’s hammer, she chooses how she lives, and by the gods, she chooses how she will die.
The hardcover trade of the Mighty Thor Volume 3: The Asgard/Shi’ar War was my first full introduction to Jane Foster’s Thor and the amazing team that have put this comic together since 2015. Since reading and re-reading this volume, I have been taken with the breadth, beauty, and strength in its pages, taking the journey with all its readers through to the bitter end. With the softcover republish of this volume, it is well worthy of a look back.
At this point in the major arc, Jane is the representative of Earth on the Council of the Nine Realms, dealing with the mustachioed god, Cul and his brutish control over Asgard. In her spare time, of course, she moonlights as the secretive Goddess of Thunder, whose identity is known to none. It’s a good outlet for her frustrations, really. In three separate stories, Thor confronts the plans of Malkeith and his desires for domination of the realms, the Shi’ar and their petty gods, and the Phoenix Force itself.
As has been said before, this comic is beautiful. Panels stretch and morph across the pages as the story wills, blowing the concept of sequential art to new levels. The first two issues, drawn by Steve Epting, are a departure from Russell Dauterman’s style (not to mention Matt Wilson’s glorious color), but it fits the darker place and subject matter. Having Dauterman and Wilson take over with the Shi’ar and Phoenix just blows the pages up. I honestly have no idea how Wilson can put so much blue/white on a page and make it explode as if lightning itself leapt out of the book.
Praising the art doesn’t take away from the writing. Looking back from the end of the arc, there is a persistent theme that takes over both Jane Foster and Thor’s life: choice. In the end, Jane wanted to be able to choose how she lived and how she died. In the first few issues of this volume, Thor confronts Malkeith who, in his quest to destroy the nine realms, has forceably brainwashed the Queen of Alfheim into marrying him, turned Lady Waziria of Niffleheim into Kurse against her will, and generally been a giant sack of terrible throwing himself around the realms. These women had no choice, much like Jane sees her cancer as something done against her will. In the second story, the Shi’ar invade Asgard at the will of their gods, but are punished and mocked, slaughtered for the basest of reasons. Thor tries to save as many as she can in the perverted contest of the gods they throw, and, in the end, fights for the right of the Shi’ar to stand on their own, apart from the sadistic gods.
The final story involves the Phoenix, the most destructive force in the universe…until it meets Jane Foster, that is. As will be the case in most of Jane’s story as Thor, the fact that a “mere mortal” wields Mjolnir is anathema to the gods, but perhaps exactly what is needed at the time. Thor could not defeat the Phoenix alone, but with the power of Jane Foster’s will, along with Quentin Quires’ assistance, she dispatches the living force for the time being. It is Jane’s choice to enter the Phoenix and speak to it directly, not as Thor, but as cancer-ridden Jane Foster that makes the outcome possible. Jane’s choice and her inherent fierceness keeps Phoenix at bay.
If there is a single theme to be seen in the greater arc of The Mighty Thor, it is one of agency. Jane’s own body is killing her by inches. She has no choice in the matter. She could sit in a chair or she could stand up for something greater than herself. Jane chose to pick up Thor’s hammer, she chooses how she lives, and by the gods, she chooses how she will die.