For every great superhero male franchise, there has to be an inevitable female counterpart. Superman had Supergirl (or Wonder Woman, depends on who you ask). Batman had Batgirl. Spider-Man was followed long after by Spider-Woman. And almost half a century later, The Mighty Thor did a short while ago with Jane Foster. And no, we’re not going to count that time Jane picked up Mjolnir back in 1978 and became Thordis.
Related: Character of the Day: Gorr the God Butcher
In our previous entry, we talked about the Jason Aaron run of Thor: God of Thunder and the idea of the every man introduced in Gorr the God Butcher. At the end of this arc, Thor amends his ways and visits with sentient creatures and peoples across the galaxy.
He communes with prisoners, the poor, laymen, and he even shows up amidst a protest to shut down their arguments against the gods. One of his stops is at the house of Jane Foster, his former lover and one-time medical assistant.
Except he finds out she has terminal cancer.
The Transformation from Mortal to Goddess
The Thor: God of Thunder title ended in 2014, and the storyline picks up in the Thor title a year later. And we are introduced to Jane Foster, still with her debilitating condition. However, she acquiesces to magical treatment to deal with her cancer.
Also at this time, the events in Thor: God of Thunder and Gorr the God Butcher’s influence start to take their toll on the protagonist of the title. Along with a mysterious whisper by Nick Fury, Thor Odinson is found unworthy to wield Mjolnir. He also loses an arm in a battle in a previous title.
The hammer is also unresponsive to Odin Borson, the All-Father, who chides the inanimate object for it not listening to the one who originally put the enchantment on it. So it lays dormant on the moon while destruction is laid waste to Asgard without Thor being able to use the hammer.
And for unknown reasons, the hammer seeks out Jane Foster. She takes up the hammer herself, and adapts the speech and fighting style of her former lover in a new form. She sports a helmet that masks her identity well enough, and she has blonde hair and a more powerful physique than her cancer-riddled body.
However, in taking up the form of Thor, she ends up advancing the spread of her cancer cells, and undoing the magic holding back the disease. So whenever she reverts back to her human form, she is weaker and more emaciated due to the cancerous infections spreading throughout her body.
The Familiar Face Throughout the Comics
Jane Foster was originally introduced as the love interest of Thor Odinson way back in his Dr. Donald Blake days. She also served as his nurse assistant, as the Asgardian played his alter ego off as cripple. She has been more of a secondary character to Thor Odinson since 1962 in Journey into Mystery #84.
Despite her love for the Asgardian, she married a human named Keith Kincaid, who was a physician for the Avengers at the time. She had a child with him, and enjoyed civilian life for a short while. However, for reasons that weren’t really made clear in the comics, Jane Foster divorced Kincaid. The custody of their son Jimmy went to Keith.
Time passes, and both her ex-husband and her son die in a car accident. Apparently it was not worth more than a mention in The Mighty Thor #704. This only adds to her tragic backstory of her civilian life being a cantankerous mess.
Previously, her mother died of the same disease she’s now facing. And her father died of a heart condition after having worked two jobs to support her studies in medical school.
Comics are Weird
That being said, Jane’s tale in the recent Thor titles is a bit weird. It’s interlaced with comic book tropes and averting consequences, like death and disease. At some point they are no longer issues for Jane Foster because of magic and super powers.
The consequences first introduced in Thor: God of Thunder are reversed in the Thor title with magic to cure her of cancer. But the cancer comes back when she gets a hold of Mjolnir. And she dies as a consequence of using the hammer too many times and the cancer spreads to other parts of her body.
But even then, we read that there’s a way of bringing her back. This time using more magical energies stored within Mjolnir to put her back in her mortal body. (And yet I thought it was using Mjolnir that caused her death in the first place?)
And this time around she’s given the branding of the Valkyrie and now she’s part of that lineup. She even has her own comic as of 2019 simply titled Valkyrie: Jane Foster.
The female Thor Foster also appeared in Secret Wars #2, as a member of God Emperor Doom’s Thor Corps police force lineup in 2015. She was apparently the only one to realize that Doom was the bad guy and tipped off the rest of the Corps to his insidious plans.
Thor, not Thordis
Again, a weird comic. Because Thor, after finding himself unworthy of wielding Mjolnir, gives up the name and calls himself Odinson. Now that logic in the comics doesn’t quite line up. If we follow that standard, everyone picking up the hammer should be named Thor.
This list include Captain America, Magneto, Beta Ray Bill, Red Hulk, Colossus, Throg and Eric Masterson. To be fair, some of them were known as Thor to some extent. Or they were identified with a group who carried the title. Others wielded Mjolnir through extenuating circumstances or through manipulation of the forces around them or the hammer.
But the underlying idea is that they kept their names and titles. No one refers to Beta Ray Bill as Thor. Nor do they call Captain America Thor. They call Thor Odinson – Thor. And that’s the bothersome thing about this run in the comics, amongst other things.
Cheating Death and False Finalities
There are some really good elements of Jane Foster’s story. And some of these help me get around a few lesser points of contention with her background. However, I think the character had a run, and it ended. And it would’ve been best to leave it at that. Especially after swinging Mjolnir around “one last time” to defeat whatever random beast of the week.
Bringing her back from the brink for the umpteenth time feels like a cop out. It negates her sacrifice and the consequences of her decision to do so. The weight of death and sacrifice is no longer there, and we don’t get to have a moment of realization of mortality or searching in our own selves because of it.
What if movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe followed this same comic book trope? A number of characters would be coming back from the dead “just because.”
We all liked Yondu played by Michael Rooker, right? Well, he’s back because “reasons.”
Hugh Jackman’s Logan just crawled out of his makeshift grave. And Thanos and the rest of his army will be back for Avengers 15 in 2068.
And you can watch the Mad Titan face off against Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man again! We’ll dig him up and CGI the hell out of him.
But I’m curious to hear your thoughts on Valkyrie, Mighty Thor, Jane Foster, or whatever title she’s taking up nowadays.
Leave a comment below or let’s talk about it on social media!