Thursday, May 25, 2017

Profile: Jane Foster

Jane Foster

First appearance: Journey Into Mystery #84, September 1962

History: Foster, a nurse when she first debuted, was assistant to and the first mortal love of Marvel's take on the Norse God of Thunder, Thor, in his mortal guise of Dr. Donald Blake at the time he'd originally had a secret identity. An interesting bit of trivia: at least twice she was referred to as Jane Nelson rather than Foster, as per a handful of early Stan Lee works where some accidental typos remained in place, but the family name Foster ultimately came to be the one solidified for naming her character. She may not have begun as the toughest lady cast member (admittedly, not many of the female co-stars in Stan Lee's first 2 Silver Age years did), but as time went by, she became a much more braver, determined character who wasn't afraid to put up a fight when facing danger.

Was subjected to the following acts of discrimination: when she first found out Thor and Blake were one and the same, she tried to persuade Odin to make her a deity to live alongside Thor. But she failed the needed tests and Odin returned her to Midgard (Earth) with her brief powers and memories of Thor erased, though the latter returned some time later. In Thor #231 from 1975, an entity called Fear tried to manipulate her into committing suicide, and while Sif aided her by merging their life forces temporarily, she later wound up stuck in a pocket dimension the following year in issue #249. Fortunately, Thor and Sif rescued her, and in 1983, in issue #336, she married Dr. Keith Kincaid, the medic whom Thor's Blake identity was meant to resemble.

When the Civil War crossover was published, Jane was shoved into the mess as well. In the third Thor volume, after learning Donald Blake was around again, she divorced Kincaid and lost custody of the child she had at that time. In 2015, she was depicted contracting cancer and was turned into a female Thor, complete with same name as the male protagonist who bears that very name.

What's wrong with how this was done? The stories from early times were done plausibly and respectably (including a What If? anthology tale from the late 70s), without trying to turn Foster into a tool. But forcing her into the Civil War crossover was bad, and it was disrespectful how J. Michael Straczynski and company had her divorce her husband, as though nothing mattered anymore, ditto the child custody loss.

And then, there's that little matter of turning Jane into "Thor" for the sake of publicity stunts and catering to SJWs and "diversity" advocates in 2015, as though such steps alone equal talented writing. Not so at all. Jason Aaron's notions of how to go about were laughable in the extreme, and despite the attempts by leftist apologists to claim otherwise, sales did not hold up, and certainly didn't sell over 100,000 copies (and don't be surprised if plenty of those copies are gathering dust on the shelves and in bargain bins now). It was a decidedly terrible misuse of a character who deserved far better, just like the equally abused Mary Jane Watson.

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