Jane Foster is going to be on everyone’s minds in a few short weeks when Thor: Love and Thunder drop into movie theaters. And that means it’s prime time for a Jane Foster-starring comic! Likely the film will wow us, but before then, why not pick up Jane Foster & the Mighty Thor #1, which is equally impressive. It’s a story set within the main continuity featuring Foster as Valkyrie, whose path is changed once more when Mjolnir comes calling everything changes.
As the preview showed, Asgard is under attack, and a bloody Mjolnir has been sent to Foster. With war on the doorstep of Asgard, writer Torunn Grønbekk sets up a great introduction for anyone not yet familiar with Jane’s new role as Valkyrie. Not only is she happy as Valkyrie, but Mjolnir isn’t of much interest to her, at least in this story. After his epic run, Jason Aaron made it clear that Jane wants to move forward, not backward, in assuming the role of Thor. That creates an internal conflict that’s extra compelling.
Jane’s abilities as Valkyrie are put to the test in an opening conflict that’s not to be missed. One of her powers is tied to death, which gives her a unique ability other Marvel heroes just don’t have. Depicted wonderfully by artist Michael Dowling, the opening scene is at once macabre and cool. Seeing the powers in action is also a great way to convey that Jane doesn’t need to be Thor anymore in order to be a hero.
This issue also has plenty of familiar faces on both side of the good-and-evil aisle. Grønbekk and Dowling also build up a specific character in a way that’s interesting but doesn’t yet reveal her role in the grander narrative. That draws you in and makes you want to pick up the next issue. From scene to scene, the pace is great and the plotting is even better. You’ll never feel bored.
The colors by Jesus Aburtov are great, too. There’s a darker tone in general with this issue, although the powers and energy-based effects still manage to dazzle. I’m also a sucker for good shadows through trees, which you can see in one scene as the shadows tickle a character’s face.
This issue is a good story on its own, but more importantly, it doesn’t read like a movie tie-in. Often Marvel will publish stories that are so-so at best starring a key character in the lead role who also happens to have a forthcoming Marvel movie. That’s not so here, as Grønbekk proves Foster’s value in the comics through a complex story, high stakes, and a great overall. For anyone pre-annoyed that Foster is becoming Thor again, Grønbekk also makes a strong case for why the story needs to go in that direction. All in all, everything feels earned and a natural direction for these character’s respective arcs.
Jane Foster & the Mighty Thor #1 is a surprise to be sure, given as it’s a strong first issue when typically Marvel produces so-so movie tie-in comics around this time. Not only does this story feel valid and earned, but it feels like a natural direction to further explore Foster in some fun and meaningful ways.
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