With the recent announcement of Thor: Love and Thunder from the MCU, fans will be very eager to learn about Jane Foster and where she stands in the Marvel Universe. It is quite fortuitous, then, that Marvel is releasing a brand new #1 in an ongoing series featuring Jane, written by two of the best writers in their stable. Jane’s become a fairly popular character due to her time as Thor, and this issue is an excellent jumping on point for longtime fans as well as newcomers who want to see what all the fuss is about.
The issue is incredibly beginner-friendly from the start, with an opening page that explains Jane’s backstory and origin in understandable, unspecific terms that are not mired in continuity. Her role in the War of the Realms and the taking up of the Valkyrie mantle is explained in three short sentences: “There was a war. I was called. I answered.” The issue continues into a fight scene, which is always a great way to establish what characters can do. This one has Jane facing off against Blue Streak’s gang, the Fast Five, who are stealing a ton of weapons from Asgard, Svartalfheim, and all the other realms. Jane explains what their weapons are able to do and why it is important that she stop them while displaying the abilities of her own weapon, Undrjarn the All-Weapon. The fight scene is light and fun, with the levity you’d expect from an expert like Ewing to bring with Blue Streak.
The first act of the issue established Valkyrie as a unique character, leading into the second, designed to establish Jane Foster. Explaining her recent cancer treatments and the fact that it has gone into remission, this scene sets up a new status quo for Jane as a doctor working in a hospital while also doing a great job depicting her conflict between being a doctor and being a superhero. It’s a four page scene, but it gets a lot done — Jane’s character is defined for new and old readers alike, her real life job is altered to change the status quo, and the loose plot thread from the first scene is followed up on.
The final act is focused on establishing Jane’s ties to Asgard, and the role of the Valkyrie in that context. Jane goes to Valhalla to visit Brunnhilde, the last Valkyrie who was killed during the War of the Realms. Brunnhilde provides Jane with information, but more importantly she provides Jane with guidance on the role of the Valkyrie. Jane is used to being Thor, and treats her position as Valkyrie as another chance to be Thor, and Brunnhilde knows that Valkyries are not and cannot be Thor. Valkyries have a responsibility to the dead of Asgard that the gods never will, and Jane is forsaking her duty as a Valkyrie to act as a superhero. Predictably, based on her prior addiction to being Thor and the depiction of her struggle with putting down the hammer, Jane continues to try to forge her own path — a choice with fatal consequences. The issue ends by establishing Jane’s Valkyr-eyes as a power of their own, and setting up the villain of the first arc.
The issue is incredibly well-written and Jane is a compelling, well-defined character. CAFU’s art is great, providing a sense of realism with its three-dimensional nature while still able to depict the fantastical as is required in superhero storytelling. However, Aaron and Ewing are both capable of writing even better than this issue. The opening fight scene takes up half the issue, and takes the wind out of the pacing for the rest of the issue. The final page does not feel like a final page at all, and it seems like there should be at least one extra page at the end.
This is only a minor quibble, though, as pacing issues aside, this issue does an excellent job establishing Jane as a character and setting up the conflict for the first arc. For readers old and new who are interested in Jane’s new direction, this is an excellent starting point.