Comics

Whosoever Holds this Hammer

Jason Aaron, Russell Dauterman, and Matt Wilson say farewell to The Mighty Thor.

Image for Whosoever Holds this Hammer

Somewhere in Kansas, Jason Aaron sits alone in a room talking to action figures.

Jane Foster and the creature called Mangog, the central characters of the climax of his seminal series, MIGHTY THOR #705—out March 21—stand on opposing sides of his office. Jane says something inspirational and defiant; the Mangog spits and roars. Jason hears them, and writes.

“These characters speak to me; I’m just a vessel for them,” he explains. “This Jane Foster Thor statue just stands there looking at me as I write. And my Kirby-style Mangog statue as well. He’s been there for years.”

It’s something he’s been doing since childhood—talking to characters, making them clash, telling their stories. The only difference between the stories he imagined as a kid and the ones he dreams up today is that now thousands of people are watching what he does in the sandbox. And though the anticipation for the penultimate issue of Jane Foster’s story is at a fever pitch, he maintains a sense of youthful appreciation for the work: “Not only do I get to write these characters—not only do I get paid for it—but then I get to see them brought to life by some of the best artists working today.”

Common consensus has emerged that this run of MIGHTY THOR will go down as an all-time great. And forging the story alongside Aaron, since issue #1, has been artist Russell Dauterman and colorist Matt Wilson.

Since the series began, Dauterman’s dexterity has allowed readers to jump page-by-page between heartbreaking emotion and heart stopping action—between Jane’s solitary moments staring at a chemo drip and the War Thor defending Asgardia from a monster comprised of a billion angry souls. Those lines, combined with Wilson’s colors—from the anemic halogen lights of hospital waiting rooms to shimmering fragments of a shattered Rainbow Bridge—have matched Aaron’s poetry every step of the way.

“Jason’s scripts for this arc have been incredible. They’re big, bold, and really moving. I’m trying to capture all of that and have it seep into every bit of the art,” says Dauterman. “I drew my first Jane Foster Thor nearly four years ago, and I had no idea the impact the character would have. I think a lot about all the people who’ve written to say what Jane means to them. I really want to do right by those folks with the finale, and to do Jane justice.”

Via their seamless, stellar work, Aaron, Dauterman, and Wilson have formed their own Warriors Three (Jason would be Volstagg, because beard)—an inseparable force committed to Thor’s cause. “It’s not often that creators get to work on longer runs in super hero comics these days, or even stick together as a creative team,” Wilson says. “We’ve been very fortunate to have all this time together, to tell this story.”

Jason’s been in conversation with Jane Foster for years. And though she advises him on every panel and page, he’s been steering the series to a definitive point since the very beginning. “This is a story I’ve been waiting to write for literally years,” he says, “I’ve always known that this is where Jane ends up.” A worthy end awaits the Mighty Thor.

The final story arc, titled “The Death of The Mighty Thor,” began in the landmark issue #700. And the emotion present in all Jane Foster Thor stories extends beyond the page. “Saying goodbye is going to be rough. I did the layouts for issue #706 recently, and the finality of everything really hit me. I’ve never been so emotional when drawing layouts before,” recalls Dauterman.

And Aaron, the master of Jane’s fate, agrees. “This was the first time I ever cried as I was writing. I was surprised by it. And it happened again as I received the art for these issues.” Time is winding down for this unlikely hero. The creators, and Jane Foster herself, know what’s coming next.

In issue #703, Doctor Stephen Strange, standing beside the hero’s hospital bed, put the situation in plain terms: “If you change into Thor…Even one more time…There will be no coming back. Jane Foster will die.”

“It’s been spelled out to her,” says the scribe. “She can fight her cancer as Jane, or pick up the hammer one last time… To save the gods.”

And she does. At the conclusion of the latest issue, Jane Foster took hold of Mjolnir again. Just like the statue that observes Jason as he writes—with the ancient mallet in her right hand—there was no other way this story could end.

Since issue #1 in November 2015, Jane Foster has proven herself worthy. And she’ll prove it once more as she looks to save the gods from destruction; from the Mangog on the other side of Jason’s office. A battle for the ages arrives in issue #705, the penultimate story of a series already known as a modern classic.

“My name is Jane Foster,” the Mighty Thor concludes, “And if this is the story of how I die… Then know that it won’t end without one hell of a fight.”

Read MIGHTY THOR #705, by Jason Aaron, Russell Dauterman, and Matt Wilson, on March 21.