Even a hammer-wielding thunder god has to change


Note: More on my commentary about the recent change in Thor … and when I say more I mean I just fleshed out an earlier post. 

Change is inevitable, especially when it comes to comic books. Every fan of the medium knows that. Yet many fans still complain and kick their feet in rage when a publisher changes something in their books — particularly when it involves a character.

Last week Marvel Comics released an image of Thor the thunder god, one of their oldest and most iconic characters. It featured the classic armor, the blond hair and the god’s hammer Mjolnir. However, the person in the armor was a woman instead of the man that has been around ever since Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created Thor back in the 1960s.

Marvel said that this is not a transformation where Thor, son of Odin becomes She-Thor, daughter of Odin. This is a different character, who will take on the role of Thor.

Marvel said this change is part of a bigger story. The male character, who goes by the name of Thor, will continue to be a part of the Marvel Universe — though he will not be wielding his hammer. The publishing company confirmed that the woman taking up Thor’s mantle would be a character who is already in the comics.

This isn’t the first time that other characters stepped in and carried Thor’s hammer. The character Beta Ray Bill, a horse-faced alien introduced in 1983, possessed the hammer for a few issues. Other characters, like the X-Men’s Storm and DC Comics’ Wonder Woman, have also wielded the thunder god’s power in stories taking place in alternate realities.

This isn’t the only big change for Marvel. The publishing company announced that Sam Wilson — known as The Falcon — will be taking on the mantle of Captain America from Steve Rogers, the original Captain America. Iron Man will still be Tony Stark, except he will be “hard to root for” according to Marvel Editor-In-Chief Axel Alonso in an interview with Entertainment Weekly.

These changes might be a way for the company to tell their own stories apart from the movies.

Like many changes in comic books, these actions have caused uproar among fans. While some folks support these changes, others are denouncing it and claiming that Marvel is doing this as a public relations move to add more diversity to their characters.

My favorite comments are from the people who come onto social media and write something along the lines of “I haven’t been interested in comics in a long time, but I think (insert negative comment relating to the change).”

This kind of reaction isn’t just in regards to comic books. People tend to react to change in a negative way, whether it has to do with sports, entertainment or politics.

I’ve never gotten upset whenever a company like Marvel or DC changes something about one or more of their characters. When Marvel killed Rogers in Captain America No. 25 in 2008, as a fan, I was shocked, but as a writer, I wondered where the creators were going with the story.

I knew that comic book characters usually return from the dead at some point — except for Peter Parker’s uncle Ben and Bruce Wayne’s parents. Rogers returned from the grave less than two years after he was killed.

These types of changes give writers a chance to tell their own stories and introduce new ideas into the fictional universe that has been around for over 50 years. I’m not saying that I’ve enjoyed every change that comes in comics books, but I try and reserve my judgment until I’ve had time to process it and immerse myself into the story.

Like character deaths, changes in comic books don’t last forever. Mjolnir will be returned to Thor — probably around the time that “Avengers: Age of Ultron” hits theaters in May 2015.

When Thor takes back his place among the heroes, the fans who despised the change in the beginning — will go on to say how much they miss the woman who at one time was the thunder god — or goddess.

Al Stover can be reached at al@cheneyfreepress.com.

Figuring things out on the 4th


A word of warning, this post kind of gets depressing, but it gets happy at the end.

Although I’m going to be working on the Fourth of July – and by working I mean covering American Legion baseball – I have to say that this year’s plan far exceeds last year’s festivities.

It was around this time that I had graduated from Eastern Washington University and was set on leaving for Wolf Point, Mont. – a small town on the Northeast part of the state where the summers are blazing hot and the winters are blistering cold. You might ask “what in the heck made you want to go to BF-Montana?”

Well I was at a point in my life where I was just ready to leave Spokane. While I had just celebrated this amazing accomplishment of graduating college, I didn’t feel like I had accomplished something. I living with a group of friends who are all businesses folks – three of them worked for the same company – and being the college grad, I felt isolated.

One example is that I would be asked to not be at the house while they were having their company “get togethers” and that didn’t bother me during the school year because I had college to take my mind off of it. Well now that it was summer, I didn’t have that distraction to keep my mind off bay. Then of course when I announced I was moving, I was met with positive and negative feedback. One person in particular – who shall remain nameless – gave me a cold shoulder, at least in my perception.

I was also hanging out with someone who worked with those people and they didn’t like it. I kept getting mixed messages of “she doesn’t want to hang out with you” “you’re being clingy.” Looking back I thought I was being a little too close with that person, but whenever I tried to create distance she kept asking me to hang out.

So with no friends, I decided to head downtown to watch the fireworks. I didn’t stay because I didn’t have anyone to share it with and I didn’t want to ask people to come down because I didn’t take away their plans. After about an hour at Riverfront Park, I went home. When I saw the that “company” was over, I turned tale and went to the pub down the hill. I had a few beers until I kept getting random texts about “you need to get ice cream.”

Eventually I went home and company was still there. This point of the night got better because I just stopped caring. I had a few beers and we shot some pool downstairs. I would have liked to have this earlier in the evening, but considering who I was around, things could have gotten worse toward the end of the night.

But this year is different. I have since moved out on my own and while I’m not living with fellow journalists, my job gives the chance to interact with people who see my worth. I can’t tell you how good it feels seeing smiling kids who say “we want to shake your hand because you write about it.” I got a lot of this in Wolf Point as well. It beats having getting woken up by your roommates partying.

One thing I’ve learned is that if you’re in a situation where you’re unhappy, change it. And I’ll say that my former roommates are still my friends, as is that one gal. We just don’t hang out very much and that’s probably a good thing.