And The New Thor’s Identity Is… [Spoiler]
Since her debut in September, Marvel has been making a lot of hay out of the new Thor being somebody readers will recognize, and playing up her secret identity as a big reveal.
As often happens, that big reveal was leaked online before the release of Wednesday's Thor #8. In response, Marvel confirmed the news to The New York Times, and the holder of the hammer is definitely someone longtime fans will be familiar with. Spoilers ahead.
As some had inevitably guessed, the new Thor is Dr. Jane Foster, who has been part of the Thor story since the Silver Age. Created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, and Jack Kirby for the pages of Journey into Mystery #84 in 1962, she played a major role in early stories, and in the highly-regarded Walt Simonson run on Thor, the Dan Jurgens/John Romita Jr. run in the late '90s, and Civil War. She has also been a major character in Marvel Studios' two Thor movies, portrayed by Natalie Portman.
Recently in the comics, and prior to taking on her new role, Foster has been battling breast cancer. That will be a big factor in her story going forward, according to writer Jason Aaron: “The very act of picking up this hammer, of becoming Thor, is killing her," he told the Times. "Where we go from here is the real story.”
Presumably, the reason Foster was deemed worthy of the hammer, and the former Thor --- now known as 'the Odinson' --- was suddenly not worthy, will be the next big reveal.
Aaron added this more general explanation for the change to a female Thor:
Most of the new readers seem to be women and young girls, which is great. You’re seeing more and more comics that appeal to that audience. ... Usually when I say I write comics for a living, I kind of get blank stares. Now, when I say I write Thor, they say, ‘You’re the lady Thor guy?’ Yup. That’s me.
The reveal of Foster as the character fits the Red Hulk/Red She-Hulk template of longtime supporting characters taking on new, super-powered roles. (Those characters turned out to be Gen. "Thunderbolt" Ross and Betty Ross, respectively.) In retrospect, Foster seems like an obvious choice, but it's a good one, story-wise. It isn't just a twist for the sake of having a twist.
Because of Foster's prominent role in the movies, there's been some speculation about he taking up the hammer in a future film. That would be pretty cool.
Thor #8 features art by Russell Dauterman, and hits stands Wednesday.