Hey, everyone! Let's take comic books way too seriously! (I need this cross-stitched on a pillow or something.)

A Thor Subject

Sam D.:

Post Man,

I'm really, really confused about the new Thor. Everyone's calling her Thor, but it's sounds like original male Thor is still around and a different character. But then I know Loki turned into a woman for a while in Marvel recently… but no one made a big deal out of it like New Lady Thor. Can you explain? Am I being dumb?


You are NOT dumb. I, However, am turning into the goddamned Comic Book Guy because of this new Thor, and I hate it and I hate myself for being so irritated but if I can answer your question at least some good will come out of my obnoxious nerdiness on the issue.

Here's the basic deal: Marvel is suddenly claiming "Thor" is a title, not a name. Here's what writer Jason Aaron says on the matter: ""This is not She-Thor. This is not Lady Thor. This is not Thorita. This is THOR. This is the THOR of the Marvel Universe."This makes no sense whatsoever, and here's why:

Marvel says Man-Thor rescued the woman who will become Lady Thor at some point, so they are clearly two different characters. Marvel also says that Man-Thor (sounds like Man-whore, doesn't it?) will be deemed no longer worthy to wield Mjolnir, which has happened on occasion. So when Lady Thor picks up the hammer, obviously Man-Thor is still going to be a character, albeit one without his powers.


Now, Marvel says this makes Lady Thor the new Thor, but then what the hell does that mean for depowered Man-Thor? Does he lose his name? What would we call him? And if Man-Thor is unworthy of Mjolnir, how the hell does that make someone else the new Thor? Is Thor unworthy or not?

That's the basic problem here, but there's also the issue that Marvel's "Thor" has never fucking worked like this. As Kevin Garcia has very aptly pointed out, many, many people have picked up Mjolnir over the years, and none of them have received the name Thor. Captain America has wielded the hammer a few times — has anyone ever called him the new Thor? No. Now, you could definitely say Cap has received "the power of Thor" or even that Cap, by virtue of holding the hammer, is technically the current "God of thunder" — although even that's a bit shaky, because I'm pretty sure Cap and the other wielders don't become immortal or anything — but he does NOT suddenly become Thor.


Yet Marvel is going out of their way to say Lady Thor is the new Thor, period. But unless Marvel has some extremely clever, crazy explanation — which is definitely possible, because this is being written by Jason Aaron, who's pretty great — they're trying to tell people that they've changed one of their major male characters into a female one, which isn't technically true at all. Right now, it sounds like they're playing with semantics and turning "Thor" into a title to make it seem like they've switched the gender of one of their most major characters to seem gender-positive, when in fact they're just having a new character take the lead role in a comic, which happens all the time (e.g. Winter Soldier as Cap, Dr. Octopus as Spider-Man, etc.). It's this idea which is leaving a bad taste in my mouth and is part of the reason I'm irritated.


Again, maybe Marvel has an actual explanation how this new character can be Thor when the original Thor is still running around, depowered or no. It's possible. But until then, I will remain suspicious and obnoxiously nerdy about it.

(By the way, when Loki was a woman there for a while? That was just Loki possessing Sif's body and thus choosing to be a lady for a while. Much simpler.)



Four Better or Worse

John W.:

A story came out that Josh Trank told his cast not to bother reading any FF comics in preparation for the upcoming FF movie because it has nothing to do with the comics. So my question is, could Marvel sue for the rights back? If Fox has the rights to the FF shouldn't they make a FF movie as opposed to a generic movie about four super powered beings? Shouldn't they have to have certain ingredients in order to be able to call it the FF?


Huh! I hadn't thought about it like that. That's actually a pretty clever idea, but unfortunately Marvel licensed the characters to Fox, not the comic stories themselves. All Fox needs to do to make a Fantastic Four movie and uphold the terms of their contract with Marvel is make a movie starring a Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Woman, Human Torch and the Thing, and give them their appropriate powers. Whether they fight Doctor Doom or sit around the Baxter Building playing Mario Kart, it's going to be a Fantastic Four movie in terms of the contract.

I guess there may be a point where Fox makes an FF movie so unrecognizable that Marvel could theoretically sue on grounds that they've voided their contract, but Fox would sell the rights back to Marvel before that. The point of them owning the license is that they have superheroes with some brand recognition; why would they bother to make the film if they weren't trying to capitalize on that?



Stannis By Me

Joseph L.:


I sent you a question recently (which you were polite enough to answer) regarding ASoIaF/GoT, in which I asked how you envision the series ending. You wrote it was a pipedream to hope for an ending where Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen rule the seven kingdoms as husband and wife as there won't be a happy ending to this series, merely a satisfactory one.

Anyway, I have a twofer for my question... Provided Stannis Baratheon lives (or is still alive for that matter) could you envision a "satisfactory" ending where Stannis finally takes the Iron Throne? As much as I like Jon, Daenerys, Tyrion, etc., Stannis is my favorite character in the series. While I'd like to think I'm the furthest thing from an asshat in real life, there's no denying that Stannis makes no qualms about being one. Judging by a cursory glance of the internet, it'd appear I'm not alone as there appear to be a lot of Stannis fans out there. My second question is kinda bizarre, but could you somewhat enlighten me as to my fandom? What is it about such a detestable person (having his own brother killed, burning alive his friends and family, etc.) that would strike such a chord in someone (i.e., me) to like him as much as I do. Any insight would be much appreciated as this is something I haven't quite been able to put my finger on. Thanks!


Answer #1: I don't see a "satisfactory" ending with Stannis on the Throne. Stannis, as he's ever so fond of pointing out, is indeed the rightful King of Westeros, but what that means is he's part of the system that engenders the game of thrones which is distracting the world from the real problem, the White Walkers, and I think that system is going to get smashed pretty goddamned hard before the end of the series. I don't know that Westeros is going to end up a democracy with Tyrion as president or anything, but I'm pretty sure the political status quo is going down, even if a new, equally crappy system takes its place.

Also: Stannis sired a shadow demon baby to kill his own brother. That's the sort of shit that gets its narrative comeuppance.


Answer #2: You're right in that a lot of people like Stannis. I don't think you have to like (or even approve) of all his actions to enjoy the character, or even be a fan. But I think a large part of Stannis' appeal is that unlike so many other characters in the series, he's not playing the game of thrones because he wants power, he's doing it because the system says he's in charge, and by the gods Stannis follows the rules. This moral constancy is to a degree admirable, especially compared to all the schemers of the series. Plus, we don't like the Lannisters, and Stannis is really the only contender for the crown that we even kind of like any more (at least until Daenerys arrives in Westeros). That helps.

But you do realize that the only thing keeping Stannis from being a full-blown monster is Ser Davos, right? He's Stannis' conscience, and without Davos' counsel and outright interference, Stannis would be nothing but the system — soulless and merciless. Honestly, the only difference between Stannis and Victarion Greyjoy — who is one of the most horrible characters in the books — is where they were born, and the customs and laws they were raised to follow (or lack thereof). If Stannis were iron-born, he'd have zero problems committing all the heinous, horrible acts Victarion has.




Duncan S.:

Over the last 5 years, I've been working on a screenplay for a fantasy film with the title of Alistar based on Aboriginal mythology.

When doing research for the film, I fell in love with the lore and mythology with the stories of the Rainbow Snake and such and I eventually created a story I felt happy with. But recently I have gained a fear that I may be misusing or misinterpreting the Aboriginal cultures. I've used elements from several Aboriginal tribes (such as Wurruri which is from the Encounter Bay tribe) as well as urban legends such as the Bunyip.

On the one hand, we see in media all the time combining elements from many mythologies such as mixing Greek, Roman, Norse, Japanese and Chinese. However, one only has to look at Chakotay from Star Trek Voyager to see how mixing in elements from many native American cultures as well as adding new age stuff to see how racist and horribly wrong it can become. Now I haven't created any racist character such as Chakotay and I've used elements that were common in most of the cultures with a few characters form individual tribes. But I'm scared that I could unintentionally create a false interpretation of the people.

What should I do?


You're conflating two different issues. The first is that you're worried you've created something insulting to the Aboriginal peoples; the second is that you're worried you're misrepresenting them to others.

For the answer to either question, you have to go to someone who knows the mythology better than you. Now, whether that's a scholar, someone who runs a website, or actual Aborigines, this isn't going to be an easy task. Here are some tips:

Contact them over email. Make your message short and to the point. Do not attach your script; just ask if they would help you answer some question regarding Aborginal mythology for a script you're working on.


I'd offer them money. They are doing a service for you, and the chances of them bothering to write you back increases if you're doing more than just asking for a favor.

If they do agree, I still would not send them your full script to read over; instead, I'd formulate a sheet containing a list of the parts of your script you're unsure of — like a fact sheet, where he/she can say "true", "false" or "false and kind of racist" rather than having to read the entire thing.


I'm guessing someone who runs a site about Aboriginal mythology will be most responsive to an email request for help, but there's always the potential that they've got it wrong. Personally, I would try to contact a college professor with the requisite expertise or whatever with the caveat that I would expect to get completely ignored by most of them. You may have to go down to grad students, but hey, they'll probably need the money.

Obviously, asking actual Aborigines would be best, but I wouldn't presume to know how to contact them, how they might feel about such a thing, or basically any aspect of that. Perhaps the readers have some thoughts on the subject?



Hair Apparent

Todd J.:

Hi there Postman,
Just thought I'd point out that a curly haired Lex Luthor is not unheard of in the Superman movies. Perhaps this had something to do with casting Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor.


Okay, yes, technically Lex Luthor once had curly hair. Just like Superman has occasionally killed people in the comics. Just like Batman at the very beginning of his crime-fighting career in the '30s carried guns (and killed people too).

But over the last 75 years, these characters have evolved, changed and codified into certain forms so that the idea of say Batman carrying guns is anathema to the character. Yes he technically carried guns for like two issues in 1941 or something. Does that mean its cool from some DC writer to suddenly start writing Batman carrying around a Glock? I say thee nay.


Look, when anybody thinks of Lex Luthor, they think of him being bald. But really, the Jesse Eisenberg hair situation is merely cosmetic and not that big a deal. I'm much more concerned about how they're going to make the young, skinny Eisenberg seem like a credible threat to Cavil's Superman on screen. It's certainly not impossible for them to manage it. But I am concerned.


Petty Theft

Radiolarian Rick:

Dear Postman,

What is the best way to usurp power from Tom Petty?

You need to steal his trademark top hat, put it on, and then you become the new mayor of Bridge City. Also, if Marvel's to be believed, your name suddenly becomes Tom Petty.


Do you have questions about anything scifi, fantasy, superhero, or nerd-related? Email the postman@io9.com! No question too difficult, no question too dumb! Obviously!


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