Monday, November 20, 2017

PunditFact: Whoopi Goldberg flubs fact about female Thor


This fact-check has it all: A deep dive into comic lore, epic superhero battles in alternate universes, female empowerment and a bombastic but mistaken celebrity.

We couldn't refuse a reader's plea to fact-check Whoopi Goldberg of ABC's The View about big news last week in the comics world.

"Thor, the God of Thunder, he messed up," she said July 15. "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 it will debut a new God of Thunder in the upcoming series Thor in October — and she will be a woman. The company released 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.

This does not mean it's the first time a woman will hold Mjölnir.

The hammer's inscription reads: "Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor."

Neil Johnson, owner of Emerald City Comics in Clearwater, said, "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," often when Thor is incapacitated or being punished by his father Odin.

The earliest example is Jane Foster, Thor's human love interest, in a 1978 What If? issue. 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. This was another alternate future storyline, and some reasonable comic fans may argue it's non-canon and should not count.

Still, Storm is one example of a woman who held the hammer in a story within regular continuity. 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.

By Odin's beard, it's tough to do this. But Whoopi, your claim rates Mostly False.


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