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This fact-check nearly has it all: A deep dive into comic lore, epic superhero battles in alternate universes, female empowerment and a bombastic but mistaken celebrity.
The only thing missing is politics, but it’s Friday, so let’s take a break from all that.
We couldn’t say no to a reader’s plea to fact-check Whoopi Goldberg of ABC’s The View about big news out of the comics world this week (though not the other piece of news of Archie dying after taking a bullet intended for his gay friend).
"Thor, the God of Thunder, he messed up," Goldberg said in the July 15, 2014, segment. "He is no longer worthy to hold that damn hammer of his. And for the first time in history that hammer is being held by a woman."
Almost, Whoopi. Almost.
Marvel Comics announced this week it will introduce a new God of Thunder in the new comic series Thor in October -- and she will be a woman. The company billed it as a shocking shakeup, releasing an image of a blond, muscular woman outfitted in metal plating and a helmet with Mjölnir, the hammer of Thor, in her grasp.
"This is not She-Thor. This is not Lady Thor. This is not Thorita. This is THOR. This is the THOR of the Marvel Universe. But it's unlike any Thor we've ever seen before," said series writer Jason Aaron in a statement.
This does not mean, as Goldberg wrongly said, that it’s the first time a woman will hold Mjölnir.
The editor of the upcoming series, Wil Moss, addressed this point in a Q&A with Time without going into specifics.
Time: "Has there ever been a female Thor before?"
Moss: "There have been occasional alternate universe stories where there have been female Thors. And there have been occasional stories where a female has picked up the hammer; like there’s an X-Men story where Storm picked up the hammer. But there’s never been a female Thor."
Neil Johnson, owner of Emerald City Comics in Clearwater, Fla., said that, "All through the history of that character, when Thor’s been knocked out by a supervillain or whatever, there have been characters that have been worthy enough to pick up and wield the hammer."
Several female heroes have been "worthy" of holding the weapon, joining Superman, Captain America and male heroes deemed worthy. This often happens when Thor has been incapacitated or is being punished by his father Odin in alternate storylines and the main canon.
We found examples from reddit, the website Den of Geek and Johnson.
The earliest example of a woman wielding the hammer is Jane Foster, Thor’s human love interest, in a 1978 What If? issue (No. 1 on this list). In this alternate storyline, she discovered the hammer and became Thordis, saving Thor’s alter ego Donald Blake and beating off alien rock monsters.
In another alternate reality issue in 1994, Rogue of the X-Men used her mutant power of absorbing others’ powers and basically sucked up Thor’s life force, using his hammer to wreak destruction on Thor’s alien realm, Asgard, before seeing the light and becoming the hero.
Our reader pointed us to a 1996 crossover event between DC Comics and Marvel in which DC’s Wonder Woman wielded Mjölnir. Wonder Woman obtained the hammer and its powers ahead of a showdown with Marvel’s Storm, a female character from the X-Men, but decided not to use it because it would not be a fair fight. (And so she lost.)
And then there was the Earth-X miniseries in which Odin transformed Thor into a female version of himself per the urging of Thor’s mischievous brother Loki (see the cover). This was an alternate future timeline, and some reasonable comic fans may argue (as a few did in our reddit thread) that those are considered non-canon and should not count.
Still, Storm is one example of a woman who held the hammer in a story within regular continuity "if people are worried about it," Johnson said. Storm uses Thor’s hammer in the 2011 comic X-Men: To Serve and Protect #3 to destroy an imitation hammer called Stormcaster given to her by Loki (again, bad intentions) in a 1985 comic.
Other female hammer-holders include Black Widow and Crusader, both in What If scenarios. Read Den of Geek for more. Another character, Tarene, aka Thor Girl, had her own hammer but did not use Thor’s Mjölnir.
Goldberg said Thor "is no longer worthy to hold that damn hammer of his. And for the first time in history that hammer is being held by a woman."
It appears Goldberg mixed up her talking points.
While this is the first time a woman will be Thor, it’s not the first time a woman has held Thor’s hammer. Storm, Rogue, DC’s Wonder Woman and Jane Foster are among the female characters who have held Thor’s hammer, mostly in alternate storylines.
By Odin’s beard, it’s tough to do this. But Whoopi, your claim rates Mostly False.
Time, "Marvel Comics writers explain why they’re making Thor a woman," July 15, 2014
Reddit discussion on /r/Marvel
Interview with Kofi Polley, DKC Public Relations (for Marvel), July 17, 2014
Interview with Neil Johnson, Emerald City Comics and Collectibles owner, July 17, 2014
Den of Geek, "The Women Who Were Thor," July 16, 2014
The Hollywood Reporter, "Marvel's Female 'Thor' Shouldn't Come As A Surprise (Analysis)," July 15, 2014
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