**WARNING: SPOILERS FOR THE MIGHTY THOR #20 FOLLOW**
One of the interesting things about Jason Aaron’s Thor run has been its exploration on the concept of worthiness, of the relationship between men and deities, as well as whether any of those things even matter. Ever since the end of Original Sin, most of that has been filtered through the lens of a dying Jane Foster’s struggle to hold onto her humanity, whilst attempting to make a difference before her cancer finally catches up to her. While he’s been off to the side for the most part, the now Unworthy Thor: the Odinson’s own quest to recover the hammer of the Ultimate Thor, while dealing with his struggle to regain his pride and dignity after being taken down by Nick Fury. While he didn’t end up keeping the hammer, it led into an exploration the inverse of Jane’s journey. Where Jane had to learn what it was to be a god, the Odinson had to deal with the inequity of how little gods actually make a difference to the lives of their adherents, and ultimately chose not to keep the hammer he recovered.
Where this issue takes a very different turn in the story of someone who’s gotten a great spotlight here and there, but usually as a punchline: one Volstagg the Voluminous. Volstagg up to this point got a somewhat similar treatment. Heroic, but also prone to the overeating jokes, save a spotlight issue focusing on him when he was younger (and way less obese) as Volstagg the Valiant under the tender mercies of the god-killer Gorr. That last bit comes back into play nearly five years since Jason Aaron explored Volstagg’s more noble side, as well as that concept of worthiness. The latest issue of Mighty Thor focuses on the Odinson finding out the truth of Jane being Thor, as well as his inability to grapple with it as anything other than it being something to do with him personally. It also renews the very conceit of the series: that being Thor is as much a curse as it is for Jane. While she could be a god forever, she still wants her humanity to matter and with what little time she has left could end up losing it by staying as Thor.
Volstagg has the opposite problem. While he is a god, he’s generally been able to play a more comedic role and brush it off with a few exceptions. One horrifying instance comes into play here when Volstagg endures the trauma of watching elf children he was protecting die in front of his eyes thanks to the forces of Muspelheim. As a result: Volstagg is left catatonic and the hammer of the Ultimate Thor calls to him and when he picks it up is transformed into the War Thor. Which while it may seem a bit odd that such an often-times comedic character getting transformed into an agent of wrath and important player in the narrative makes all the sense in the world when you consider that issue dealing with Volstagg the Valiant, as well as his insistence on taking care of Jane whom he only ever knew as a brave woman dealt an unfair hand. He always was a hero on the level of Thor, he was just forgotten. But as the Odinson showed, trauma can do strange things for people and in Volstagg’s case it only facilitates what might turn a good man into an ultimately destructive one. What’s going to be interesting going forward is what turns out to be the difference between a woman who wants to do good as a god with a shrinking amount of time left to her and someone who already is a god but simply wants to destroy what’s wrong in the world.
Ultimately (heh) though. While some people might find the conceit of three Thors annoying, I find it refreshing. There’s multiple interpretations of any deity in mythology, one as popular as Thor makes sense in having multiple faces. It also creates a compelling narrative drama with the various forms of trauma in play, especially for the Odinson when his very identity is up for grabs. If nothing else, Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman have created a very tragic setup for when everything comes down.
4 Ultimate Hammers out of 5