Life questions with ThorPosted: 02/19/2013
There’s no punching today. Instead, we’re going to discuss a single inquiry asked of our god of thunder. Enjoy a beautifully done, well-crafted moment, and understand any answers I attempt to give will in no way be properly articulated. But that shouldn’t stop us from trying. In the mini-series Thor: Heaven & Earth, wonderfully written by Paul Jenkins and drawn by Pascual Alixe, Thor and gang go on little missions filled with just as much violence as intellectualism. In issue #3, we’re faced with this heartbreaking situation:
Before you get suspicious, that’s not exactly Thor’s buddy from World War II or whatever conflict he hammered bad guys in the past. When you’re thousands of years old and live in a magical dimension, it’s easy to teleport down to any big deal from history. Nope, this old man did the impossible: he stumped a god.
Everything starts after a big brawl in New York.
Thor walks triumphantly back to his flamboyant bridge home.
What a fantastic concept! Superheroes are from all sorts of insane origins, but we accept that they live in a world very much like ours. It shouldn’t surprise us that the there’s organized religion or that Christianity still plays a major role in the lives of many New York citizens. Yet they all just witnessed this very non-Catholic deity smash monsters with a hammer. How could a priest explain this to his congregation while still holding steadfast in his own religious beliefs?
Look, no one’s claiming Thor’s a genius. The guy’s gallant, heroic, and chivalrous — but no spelling bee championships will be coming his way. And thus, his thought process remains honest and simple at its core:
But a shrug and tough-luck pat on the shoulder won’t work. As this priest lies on his deathbed four years after this initial meeting, Thor can only come to one conclusion.
Sometimes it’s hard for readers to sympathize or relate to Thor. The guy’s practically invincible and if he does die, he’ll be resurrected almost immediately. Plus, he has Hulk-level strength without the moral responsibility that makes other characters like Superman so beloved. So while I can’t possibly explain in the detail or manner I wish, I do believe Thor’s answer explains better than anything else about why this god of thunder truly defines a superhero.
As cliched as it sounds, it’s the flaws that define our heroes, not the triumphs. In this single moment, Thor has shown his humanity that we may not have seen much of in the past. The personal struggles are what creates three-dimensional characters we can root for and grow alongside with. Remember Iron Man’s alcoholism? Captain America’s man out of time? Hulk’s lack of control? When we add Thor’s questions of identity and purpose, he is objectively a better character.
And I do mean objectively. Plus, he has that cool hammer.