Who is this woman who wields the immovable hammer Mjolnir? Warning: spoiler ahead.
After seven issues of the newest Thor series, Marvel is finally ready to reveal the identity of the masked Goddess of Thunder, the woman who picked up Thor's hammer from the moon after the original Thor, Odinson, was no longer worthy to do so.
At the end of Issue 8, after defeating the massive Destroyer (the giant fire-blasting metal beast you saw in the first film), Odinson pleads with the strange woman who has replaced him to take her mask off and reveal herself. She refuses and departs into the sky.
"This world needs a Thor," she says. "A god who loves the Earth enough to die for it."
In what can only be described as a fiery-electric display, the Goddess of Thunder's persona dissipates, unveiling the truth ...
Where the great warrior once stood, now stumbles a sickly woman dressed in a hospital gown, her hair gone due to cancer treatment. She takes a stance against her illness and says, "I am Dr. Jane Foster. And I will not stop being the mighty Thor. Even though it is killing me."
The Goddess of Thunder is Odinson's ex-girlfriend, Dr. Jane Foster, portrayed by Natalie Portman in the films. Her character has been dying of breast cancer for some time now, and the power of Thor, according to her, is not helping.
We had seen very few clues, and in retrospect a good deal of misdirection, but not at the expense of the story. Though you want to know her identity, you're sufficiently entertained watching this mystery woman settle into the role of an already-beloved epic hero. And most importantly, she addresses the idea of a woman taking over what has historically been a very masculine role. The transition lends itself to some of the best scenes and dialogue in the series thus far.
But now, most-anticipated perhaps is how Marvel will deal with Foster's breast cancer battle, a weighty subject and a very real story for hundreds of thousands of women across the country. Comics are becoming more and more a reflection of the culture, and this will surely add an element of true humanity in an art form that can sometimes feel quite literally otherworldly.
So, as of now, the audience knows Thor's identity, but the characters themselves still do not. Until they do, we're in for some interesting storytelling.
Now, the bonus round: If you knew that Jane Foster had wielded the hammer and transformed into Thor (or rather "Thordis") once before, you don't win anything, but we are impressed. Still, you might want to go outside and check out the sun for a few hours. Until the next issue, it's what Thor would want.
All images courtesy of Marvel.