I will very rarely say no to having more female characters in comics. That said, Marvel’s recent decision to turn Thor into a woman has left a…not necessarily bad, but definitely weird, taste in my mouth.
For one thing, the gender switch feels like a publicity stunt. For another, it seems downright lazy and it hardly makes sense (is “Thor” a title now?).
My biggest issue, though, is that Marvel seemingly can’t be bothered to seek out another fascinating, powerful mythological woman to introduce to their canon. Here are my seven suggestions:
1. Oya is a Yoruba goddess, a warrior associated with lightning, wind, thunder, and fire. She guards the underworld and unleashes hurricanes and tornadoes by dancing. She also represents transition, particularly the chaotic aspects of change, as encapsulated in her guarding the transition between life and death.
2. Morrigan is an Irish shapeshifting goddess of war, similar to a Valkyrie. She often takes the form of a crow, but has also been depicted as a wolf and an eel. In one of her stories, she takes on Celtic hero Cú Chulainn and attempts to sabotage his battle while utilizing several animal forms.
3. Aide is a Basque deity who basically has a light side and the dark side, one which results in gentle breezes and the other in devastating storms. If that doesn’t make for an interesting comic character, I don’t know what will.
4. Bellona is a Roman war goddess, the equivalent of the Greek goddess Enyo. She went to war armed with a whip and a torch. Roman Senate meetings pertaining to foreign war were held in her temple, and she both prepared her brother Mars’ chariot for battle and joined him in the fighting.
5. Inanna is a Sumerian goddess of warfare and fertility, associated with lions. She certainly has plenty of material for comics. In one of her stories (which features in the book “Snow Crash” by Neal Stephenson), she tricks another god, Enki, into giving her the Mes, which are the blueprints for everything a thriving civilization needs, ranging from abstract notions like justice to practical instructions like how to write or build. She tracks down a man who raped her by unleashing plagues upon the city he’s hiding in, ultimately driving him out and killing him. And in what might be her for most famous story, she descends into the underworld – a dreary kingdom run by her sister, which no one can ever leave – for unclear reasons. Inanna sits on her sister’s throne, dies there, and is revived by Enki – but she can’t leave until she’s found someone to take her place. On her way back to the entrance of the underworld, she keeps running into people she knows, and she won’t choose any of them to take her place. Finally, she exits the underworld and finds her husband – lounging under a tree, not missing her at all. Guess who’s sent to the underworld.
6. Kadlu, Kweetoo, and Ignirtoq are sister Inuit deities who create thunderstorms by jumping on hollow ice to make thunder, sparking pieces of flint together to generate lightning, and (well) “urinating profusely” to create rain, respectively. They were so noisy and unruly that their parents finally kicked them out, so they joined up with the sea goddess Sedna to create storms whenever she needed them.
7. Sif! Sif already exists in Marvel comics, but it looks like she’s been woefully underused, mostly as yet another person for Loki to play tricks on. She deserves a reboot in the spirit of her movie self.
What are your thoughts on Lady Thor? Who would you pick from mythology to star in her own comic book?