Comics

Hammering Hard With Worthy Themes in 'Generations Unworthy Thor & The Mighty Thor #1'

The life of two worthy souls become entwined in an all-too familiar, but still worthy narrative.


Mahmud Asrar

Generations: Unworthy Thor & The Mighty Thor

Publisher: Marvel
Price: $4.99
Writer: Jason Aaron
Publication date: 2017-08-23
Amazon

The concept of who is truly worthy is Marvel's ultimate philosophical McGuffin. It's one of those ideas that can be endlessly debated, argued, twisted, and misconstrued in any number of ways. It's also a major driving force for Thor in nearly every era. From Walter Simonson to Jason Aaron, his struggle to be worthy, stay worthy, and understand what makes him worthy is part of what makes Thor's story compelling.

In terms of major turning points in that story, few are as pivotal as the events that played out in Original Sin. In that story, Thor becomes unworthy with just three words whispered by Nick Fury. This doesn't just upend Thor's idea of worthiness and the story around it -- it opens the door for a new Thor with a new understanding of what it means to be worthy.

This is where Jane Foster's story enters the picture and that story is built on a very different foundation. She is not a god, a demigod, or anyone who would ever be mistaken as one. She is a moral woman who also happens to be suffering from one of the most debilitating diseases any mortal can endure. Her ascension to the title of Thor is one of the most significant shifts in Thor's story in decades. There are times when it breathes new life into the world of Thor. There are other times when it triggers incessant whining about identity politics. The fact that Jason Aaron manages to balance that narrative in any capacity is nothing short of astounding.

Now, through Generations: Unworthy Thor and The Mighty Thor #1, Aaron has a chance to build bridges between that vast philosophical gulf between one era of worthiness and another. It may not end the constant whining about female heroes taking on the mantle of male heroes, but it does flesh out the core elements of the Thor mythos that are as relevant today as they are in the ancient times before angry arguments on internet message boards.

Unlike some of the previous narratives in Marvel Generations, there are clearer connections between the events in Generations: Unworthy Thor and The Mighty Thor #1 and the conclusion of Secret Empire. Those connections are few and somewhat vague, but their presence helps create an important context between the past and present. Jane Foster isn't so much the catalyst as she is the unexpected guest, who helps bring clarity to the hopelessly unclear concept of worthiness.

While her role in the story cannot change the path of Odinson, it can provide guidance. Granted, it's a guidance he will undermine with his arrogance on many occasions in the future, but it still offers clarity to the narrative while giving Odinson fewer excuses. In a sense, what happens in the story gives the impression that he was destined to lose Mjolnir at some point, even without any devious whispers of Nick Fury. It's just an inevitable consequence of the arrogance that comes with being Thor and with being a god, in general.

The substance of that story isn't very novel in that it builds on a story that has been explored before in the pages of Uncanny Avengers. Once again, the son of Odin clashes with Apocalypse in an era before the Avengers can assemble and before the X-men can astonish. It's basic and crude, but it provides the necessary setting for the arrogant young Asgardian to learn a lesson or two about divinity and mortality.

The fact he learns it from a mortal woman wielding the hammer he craves provides both personality and entertainment value. It'll also provide more fodder for internet debates, but that doesn't derail the main thrust of the story. It's the setting that's vital here in that it takes place in a time before Odinson first lifted Mjolnir or taken the title of Thor. In this time, he's still the divine equivalent of a teenager who hasn't gotten his driver's license yet but still wants to take his father's car out for a joyride.

While it annoys Odin to no end, it puts the future Thor in a position to ditch some boring formal gathering of gods to pick a fight on Midgard between Vikings and Apocalypse's Clan Akkaba. Given that the formal gathering prohibits mead and mostly involves Odin bellowing orders, it's hard to blame a juvenile Odinson for ditching it.

It's only when he meets a time-displaced Jane Foster that his casual deviance becomes an important learning experience for both of them. The fact that experience also involves an elaborate, violent, lightning-filled battle against Apocalypse that brings out the best in Mahmud Asrar's art is a nice bonus. It just isn't a very memorable experience for any generation of Thor if there isn't some epic battle to fight.

That fight, as entertaining as it is, remains secondary for the most part. The primary struggle still revolves around Odinson's desire to be worthy and Jane Foster's lingering uncertainty about her future. It's a struggle that both characters have a stake in, but one that has limited influence on both characters. While Generations: Unworthy Thor and The Mighty Thor #1 makes the necessary effort to explore those classic themes of worthiness that is so critical to Thor's mythos, the extent to which it impacts the characters involved is somewhat minor.

This is a matter that shows up in previous issues of Marvel Generations, but a limited impact doesn't mean there can't be heavy drama. The potential for that drama is there in Generations: Unworthy Thor and The Mighty Thor #1, but not much of it is realized. Jane Foster and the future Thor do get a moment to interact outside of a major battle, but little comes of it. Both still gain critical insight, though. Both are in a better position to make decisions about the course of their immortal and mortal lives alike. It's not dramatic, but it does make the overall story feel complete.

That story even includes a few bonus parts that make Generations: Unworthy Thor and The Mighty Thor #1 a prelude to other critical events in the past and future. It offers intrigue beyond the basic lessons in worthiness, which is something that previous issues of Marvel Generations has not done. It adds value to a story that can only offer so much before it undermines the hopelessly convoluted, ever-evolving timeline that is the Marvel universe. That value may not make anyone inherently worthy of lifting Mjolnir, but it will put them on the right track.

7

Music

Books

Film

Recent
Film

The Dance of Male Forms in Denis' 'Beau travail'

Claire Denis' masterwork of cinematic poetry, Beau travail, is a cinematic ballet that tracks through tone and style the sublimation of violent masculine complexes into the silent convulsions of male angst.

Music

The Cradle's 'Laughing in My Sleep' Is an Off-kilter Reflection of Musical Curiosity

The Cradle's Paco Cathcart has curated a thoughtfully multifarious album. Laughing in My Sleep is an impressive collection of 21 tracks, each unapologetic in their rejection of expectations.

Music

Tobin Sprout Goes Americana on 'Empty Horses'

During the heyday of Guided By Voices, Tobin Sprout wasn't afraid to be absurd amongst all that fuzz. Sprout's new album, Empty Horses, is not the Tobin Sprout we know.

Film

'All In: The Fight for Democracy' Spotlights America's Current Voting Restrictions as Jim Crow 2.0

Featuring an ebullient and combative Stacey Abrams, All In: The Fight for Democracy shows just how determined anti-democratic forces are to ensure that certain groups don't get access to the voting booth.

Music

'Transgender Street Legend Vol. 2' Finds Left at London "At My Peak and Still Rising"

"[Pandemic lockdown] has been a detriment to many people's mental health," notes Nat Puff (aka Left at London) around her incendiary, politically-charged new album, "but goddamn it if I haven't been making some bops here and there!"

Music

Daniel Romano's 'How Ill Thy World Is Ordered' Is His Ninth LP of 2020 and It's Glorious

No, this is isn't a typo. Daniel Romano's How Ill Thy World Is Ordered is his ninth full-length release of 2020, and it's a genre-busting thrill ride.

Music

The Masonic Travelers Offer Stirring Rendition of "Rock My Soul" (premiere)

The Last Shall Be First: the JCR Records Story, Volume 1 captures the sacred soul of Memphis in the 1970s and features a wide range of largely forgotten artists waiting to be rediscovered. Hear the Masonic Travelers "Rock My Soul".

Music

GLVES Creates Mesmerizing Dark Folktronica on "Heal Me"

Australian First Nations singer-songwriter GLVES creates dense, deep, and darkish electropop that mesmerizes with its blend of electronics and native sounds on "Heal Me".

Music

Otis Junior and Dr. Dundiff Tells Us "When It's Sweet" It's So Sweet

Neo-soul singer Otis Junior teams with fellow Kentuckian Dr. Dundiff and his hip-hop beats for the silky, groovy "When It's Sweet".

Music

Lars and the Magic Mountain's "Invincible" Is a Shoegazey, Dreamy Delight (premiere)

Dutch space pop/psychedelic band Lars and the Magic Mountain share the dreamy and gorgeous "Invincible".

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" Wryly Looks at Lost Love (premiere + interview)

Singer-songwriter Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" is a less a flat-earther's anthem and more a wry examination of heartache.

Music

Big Little Lions' "Distant Air" Is a Powerful Folk-Anthem (premiere)

Folk-pop's Big Little Lions create a powerful anthem with "Distant Air", a song full of sophisticated pop hooks, smart dynamics, and killer choruses.

Music

The Flat Five Invite You to "Look at the Birdy" (premiere)

Chicago's the Flat Five deliver an exciting new single that exemplifies what some have called "twisted sunshine vocal pop".

Music

Brian Bromberg Pays Tribute to Hendrix With "Jimi" (premiere + interview)

Bass giant Brian Bromberg revisits his 2012 tribute to Jimi Hendrix 50 years after his passing, and reflects on the impact Hendrix's music has had on generations.

Jedd Beaudoin
Music

Shirley Collins' ​'Heart's Ease'​ Affirms Her Musical Prowess

Shirley Collins' Heart's Ease makes it apparent these songs do not belong to her as they are ownerless. Collins is the conveyor of their power while ensuring the music maintains cultural importance.

Books

Ignorance, Fear, and Democracy in America

Anti-intellectualism in America is, sadly, older than the nation itself. A new collection of Richard Hofstadter's work from Library of America traces the history of ideas and cultural currents in American society and politics.

By the Book

Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto (excerpt)

Just as big tech leads world in data for profit, the US government can produce data for the public good, sans the bureaucracy. This excerpt of Julia Lane's Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto will whet your appetite for disruptive change in data management, which is critical for democracy's survival.

Julia Lane

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.