Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Hammer of Thordis!


Chances are you don't remember a scene like this one in the early days of the Avengers:



Nevertheless, in the tenth issue of What If?, we were treated to a premise that I don't think any reader would normally have given a second thought to:




Given what we know of Jane Foster's fragile temperament and sensibilities in those early days of Journey Into Mystery, you'd think she'd be the last person cut out to be a Norse goddess. Indeed, in the later pages of The Mighty Thor, she proved to be sorely lacking the qualities necessary to overcome her own low self-confidence, let alone super-villains or alien invaders. But if you can manage to suspend your disbelief (and granted, you may need to use titanium cable to do it), this issue of What If? isn't a bad read. Like most of these stories, events tend to leap-frog around continuity in order to cover key points--but considering what this story is trying to accomplish, writer Don Glut and artist Rick Hoberg manage to make it entertaining and reasonably credible, covering the necessary bases in the process.

For instance, we can't progress to Jane Foster as the new wielder of Mjolnir until we deal with Don Blake's vacation in Norway. Only this time, he's not alone in his wanderings--his nurse, Jane, has accompanied him, hoping to make some headway in getting him to admit his feelings for her. And so it's the two of them who are witness to the arrival of the Stone Men of Saturn:



As Blake and Jane flee, they become separated--and it's Jane who becomes trapped in the cave and finds the hidden room within. Fortunately, history repeats itself--she, too, thinks to use the gnarled cane she finds as leverage to move the boulder sealing the way out, and she also strikes the cane against it in frustration. And we see that Odin should have thought to fine-tune his spell just a bit to take into account something as basic as DNA:



And this new Goddess of Thunder christens herself appropriately:



Unlike her trepidation in Thor's regular book when Odin granted her godhood, Jane adapts quickly and downright eagerly to her new powers, and isn't hesitant to use them. Once she saves Blake from being hurled to his death, she turns her might on the Stone Men:



From that point on, Jane continues her role as Blake's nurse. But in an interesting reversal of roles, her routine has become a familiar one when trouble rears its head. With one or two minor revisions:



Soon, just as it originally happened, Thordis has her first encounter with Loki, but manages to deal with him more quickly when his deception with a male Thor illusion fails. Once she hurls Loki back to Asgard, it isn't long before she's summoned there herself:



As is apparent, Thordis retains the mannerisms and personality of Jane Foster, since there was no Thor personality in place for her to revert to when transformed to her goddess state. So she encounters Odin and the rest of the gods of Asgard as herself, and finds it difficult to congenially acclimate to this very different world. But aside from that, Odin sees that this is not his son, and concludes that there is no place for her in Asgard:



Yeah. Odin making a snap judgment. Imagine that. But Jane certainly doesn't seem to mind.

Yet the goddess Sif isn't willing to let it go at that, since she had looked forward to Thor's return and now is faced with the probability of him being trapped in his mortal form forever. And so she travels to Earth and meets Blake, healing his injured leg and beginning a relationship with him--even seeking to protect him when Loki attempts to kill him. As for Thordis, ominous weather she's noticed has her seeking out Sif, whom she realizes has now replaced her as the recipient of Blake's love:



Events in Asgard happen much like they did in the original version of the story. Mangog comes within a hair's breadth of unsheathing the Odin-sword, when Thordis creates a powerful storm to awaken Odin from his legendary Odin-sleep. Odin subsequently deals with Mangog, and then acts to repair the derailment of his plan for Thor:


(By the way, can you spot the error here? Glut isn't the first writer to slip up on it.)


Odin then moves to reward Jane for her valiant efforts in the battle. And he also moves in, if you know what I mean:


The sly old coot.


Consequently, we're in for one messed up family portrait:



We can only hope that neither Thor nor Jane ever have old feelings tugging at them. Because that's one What If? story that should probably stay in the "draft" pile.

5 comments:

Gecho said...

I'm thinking the error you referred to is that the sixty-seconds limit on remaining Thor without holding Mjolnir doesn't apply in Asgard.

Comicsfan said...

Quite right!

Karen said...

I remember this. Dreadful issue, best left forgotten. Oh Comicsfan, why have you dredged it up from the depths of Hel, to inflict it upon us? And that ending...Odin is so...yucky....

Comicsfan said...

"Yucky"--THAT'S the word I was looking for. Still, what's up with Jane? She spurns Fandral's advances, but puts out the welcome mat for Odin?

Matt Celis said...

great issue, one of the better What Ifs.

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