The new Thor— by which I mean both the comic and its heroine— have some extraordinarily big shoes to fill. So far, she's doing an admirable job. The comic (crafted by the same creative team as its predecessor, Thor: God of Thunder) is approaching a few fronts at once, and again, doing an admirable job. So how does the new Thunder Goddess hold up to scrutiny? (Spoilers follow.)

When we last left our flaxen-haired heroine, she was separated from Mjolnir by a magic door, and facing the business end of several angry Frost Giants. That's quite the cliffhanger, as well as a conundrum: After all, the Norse male Thor's worthiness was defined by whether or not he could lift his hammer in the first place. Now, the woman that's picked up his mantle and his legacy is separated from the very thing that used to define (at least in part) what made Thor special.

It's a crafty move, if not subtle, but it does a few good things at once.

Female!Thor Is Not Just The Sum of Her Parts

By stranding Thor without her most iconic weapon, writer Jason Aaron is forced to show us how she handles Thor-ing without it. To their credit, Russell Dauterman and Matthew Wilson do a superb job illustrating all this. See for yourself.

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This is a beautifully composed shot. The whole comic's filled with 'em. The angles are dynamic, the colors are vibrant, the lines are sharp. It shows us exactly how big the trouble Thor's in is, as well as what stands in her way, and who stands against her. (Dario Agger stands there, insulting Mjolnir. He's a corporate tool and worse, but that will suffice for now.)

Lo and behold, Malekith shows up to taunt Lady!Thor. Seeing him swagger about like he owns the place makes me long for the days of Gorr, Butcher of Gods. Malekith and Dario are assholes, to be sure. But at least Gorr had vision. I could respect his devotion to his ideals. Malekith's just being a dick. (The arrogant prick actually has the nerve to say "Well, what have we here?" Ugh.)

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Flashback a few days to a private supper between Skrymir, current lord of the Frost Giants, and Malekith. Seems Malekith brokered a deal of peace between a few realms, contingent on finding and acquiring the icy remains of the Frost Giants' late sovereign. Said remains turned up at the bottom of the ocean on Earth, which brings us up to speed on what the FG's are doing on Midgard in the first place.

Malekith's stupidity— in terms of supervillainy— is a bit of a surprise. He sliced Male!Thor's arm off below the shoulder, then dropped him into a watery grave. Any villain worth his salt should know better than to assume the hero's going to die because of a little amputation and burial at sea. C'mon, Malekith.

Skrymir freezes Thor solid, then tosses her into his mouth like an appetizer. This goes about as well as you'd expect, since LIGHTNING comes out of nowhere to blast his entire head to icy rubble. So ends the story of Skrymir.

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While she dispenses with the rest of the Frost Giants, Malekith mojo's his way into the magic vault, only to find Dario standing in his way. Now begins the magic d***-measuring contest, as Dario transforms into a Minotaur, before the decidedly-unimpressed dark elf. They get into a brutal fight with no clear victor.

Thor continues fighting and pressing to regain her hammer, unto the very last second.Now! One of the things I like about Lady!Thor is the fact that she's playing all this by ear, operating on a mixture of autopilot: saying what comes naturally, and doing what she'd expect Thor to do in the situation. (If you're a new Thunder God, I can't imagine a little WWTD wristband being a bad idea.)

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We Get To Learn The New Thor's Rules & Limitations

It's going all right, but we have an added wrinkle: the longer Lady!Thor is separated from Mjolnir, the faster her powers start to fade.

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That's right, we're talking old school Thor rules: In the original comics, if Thor was separated from his magic hammer for longer than a minute, he'd revert to his alter-ego, Donald Blake. She manages to get it back in the nick of time. *whew*

Thor breaks up the fight between Elf & Minotaur, and smashes the Frost Giant King's skull to smithereens. Malekith promises that she's started a war, but he's interrupted...

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By Thor, who wants his hammer back. Gulp.

My hat's off to Jason Aaron for keeping the pacing tight. Male!Thor disappeared at the end of issue 1. I'd say less than a day has gone by in comic-book time between then and now. But here stands Thor, his arm replaced, his flying goat at his side, and the Celestial-killing axe, Jarnbjorn, in his fist.

Issue 4 promises to be a knockdown, drag-out brawl, one I can't wait to see.

What about you? Thoughts? Questions? Comments? Let me know below!

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Casey Jones is the author of All Fall Down, and a voiceover artist. You can learn more about his work at www.caseyjonescaseyjones.com.