I’m the sort of book-lover who assumed she would never get a Kindle. I actually end up reading quite a few books on my Kindle app. I have an hour-long commute to work, and it’s just so easy – finish one book, download another, keep reading.
There are lots of reasons why the Kindle-averse simply cannot give up their addiction to hard copies: the pleasant weight of a book in the hands, the satisfaction of turning the pages, the easy demarcation of favorite passages. These are oft-cited reasons, but they neglect the best part of physical books – the smell. I have always loved the smell of books. I could probably identify favorites from my childhood library by nose alone (I might even be able to do Harry Potter by volume). And the glossy pages of comic books smell like textbooks, which were always the best smelling type of literature.
A superhero nerd like myself has access these days to immediate gratification given the easy availability of downloads on Marvel.com. Alas, as a book-sniffer, I’m normally a patiently-wait-for-the-collected-volume type of comic reader. Which is to say, as much as I love superheroes, I’m not much of a rabid comics reader – it’s easy for me to hold out for that thick glossy hard copy of a select series. Even when I was into manga, I generally bought in volume, rather than reading serialized.
The exception will be Thor: The Goddess of Thunder – I simply cannot wait for the next volume to find out what happens next.
I honestly only bought the comic with the intention of reviewing it for this blog. When the new Thor was announced, writer Jason Aaron emphasized: “This is not she-Thor. This is not Lady Thor. This is not Thorita. This is Thor.” Aaron’s graceful refusal to indulge in unnecessarily gendered superhero distinctions (or the Smurfette principle) was the reason I thought the new Thor might be worth a try.
My only previous exposure to Thor was the Norse god as played by Chris Hemsworth in the Marvel films. The previous Thor (now simply called Odinson) still plays a major role in the new comics, which I’m hoping will translate smoothly into additional movies (I may not be able to pick Chris Evans out of a lineup, but I’d probably watch Chris Hemsworth read a phone book for two hours).
But I was worried that, like so many “badass” feminist characters, she would simply embody stereotypically male characteristics. I was worried I wouldn’t actually be able to relate to her as a woman.
I was worried I wouldn’t like her.
That’s the risk women run when they take on powerful identities in male-centric spaces. They risk giving up likeability. I do, however, like Thor. In fact, I really, really like her. Because in her, I see the feminist I wish I were. She takes down trolls who use some awfully GamerGate-esque language to disparage her new identity. She connects powerfully with other women, both as her enemies and as her role models. She doesn’t apologize for wielding Mjolnir; she delights in the powers of Thor.
The artwork is as compelling as the story line. Russel Dauterman (#1-4) emphasizes the strength of Thor’s arms and Jorge Molina (#5) her happy smirk. These are traits we don’t often associate with women in popular culture, yet traits that real women do exhibit.
Both are features of symbolic of the Thor franchise – power and confidence. She is strong; she is mighty.