The 2015 Comic That Made Wes Cry: The Mighty Thor

017I’ve been asked what made me sad in comics in 2015, and it took about two seconds consideration to come to my conclusion. Jason Aaron’s The Mighty Thor. Let me be clear about one thing right off the hammer, I wasn’t sad about the delivery, the script, the art, the plot, or the direction. There’s nothing wrong with the comic. It’s actually what’s so devastatingly right about it that got to me.

The reason that this comic is so sad that it’s difficult to read at times is that it focuses on a breast cancer patient dealing with their chemo treatment. Now, to be fair, this may hit closer to home for me than it might for some. I’ve watched my wife go through this process, and know, having seen it, that its hellacious. It’s an arduous trial for anyone to have to suffer through. Yet regardless of the whys and wherefores, this book elicited a strong, sad emotional response, so I have to applaud it for that.

For anybody who hasn’t kept up with Thor comics, you might be surprised to learn that the Thor you’re probably most familiar with, the Thor you grew up with, that Thor is currently unworthy. Bear in mind, while Thor is an Asgardian, and therefore more powerful than humans in general, his real power was derived from wielding Mjolnir, the mythical hammer. With this weapon Thor was all but unstoppable, but the weapon came with a caveat: only the worthy may wield it. After having a secret whispered in his ear, what it is we still don’t know, Thor could no longer lift the hammer. He was no longer worthy. In and of itself that’s some great drama right there, but it gets better when an unidentified woman comes along, and is miraculously able to wield the hammer. She is the new face of Thor. She is worthy.

We, as readers, now know her identity, but if you don’t, I won’t spoil that for you. The relevant point to this article, though, is that she happens to be dying of cancer. Cancer is used all the time in movies, TV shows, and literature. It’s an easy tool, as most of us know somebody who has been affected by cancer, plus, in most plots, having elements of tragedy or loss keeps things engaging. So much is cancer used as a plot point, that during the few years which I simply stopped reading or viewing material which leaned on this narrative tool, I quickly realized that there was almost nothing left. I didn’t need to be reminded of the horrors befalling a loved one. I had too much of it in my real life, and fiction, I’ve always believed, can be a means to escape reality.

The Mighty Thor is the first title I’ve really appreciated for its brutal honesty since distancing myself from overused and oversimplified cancer tropes. The reasons I’ve stuck by are twofold. First, Jason Aaron has been able to write Thor brilliantly, before and after the character change. His has been my favorite representation of Thor ever. It’s not a Marvel book which Thor happens to appear in, it’s a mead soaked, heavy metal romp through a clearly honored and respected approach to Norse mythology. Second though, is the honest, and accurate depiction of what a cancer patient actually goes through. This isn’t using cancer as a gimmick. It’s not petty, or oversimplified. This appears to be written by somebody who has seen firsthand the grueling process. I hope that he hasn’t, that he just did his research, but either way, I thank him for conveying the weight of the situation, for imparting the pain. It’s far from trivial.

As an added element of anguish, this new Thor must choose between helping herself or others, where the consequences of either path are colossal. This book is about a hero the likes of which we haven’t seen for some time. Her’s isn’t a conflict of whether or not to help, but at what cost. I don’t want to go too much further into it than that, rather, I’d encourage you to go pick up the book. It might leave you sad, and that’s okay. That’s the way life is sometimes, it doesn’t make the book a bad one, but a real one.



1 Response to “The 2015 Comic That Made Wes Cry: The Mighty Thor”

  1. Brian White

    Hmm…this is very interesting. I must check this out. I have not read anything since they did this character change.