Jane Foster's death
in Marvel Comics has always seemed to be inevitable. Writer Jason Aaron's run has revealed that Jane is dying of cancer
and worse still, every time she picks up Mjolnir and transforms into Thor, the effect of Jane's chemotherapy is reversed. The cancer is killing her, and Jane's frail human body cannot survive another transformation. Unfortunately, all this is set against the backdrop of the War of the Realms, and Jane has just picked up Mjolnir one last time in order to fight to save Asgard from Mangog.
This has certainly proved to be a tremendous plot, filled with power and emotion. Jane has been Thor for three years
now, and the tragedy of her story is building to a head. But, as effective as this story may be, it's also a flawed one. The fundamental problem is that Jane Foster is Marvel's best Thor, and there's no way the Odinson can take her place again.
It's not unusual for Mjolnir to be wielded by someone other than Thor Odinson. The enchanted hammer may not have survived long enough to be held by anyone other than Thor in the movies, but many other characters have picked it up in the comics. In fact, even Captain America's been able to heft Mjolnir on occasion. But only two of these Thors have really made a mark. The first is Beta Ray Bill
, and the second is Jane Foster.
Where Beta Ray Bill is a powerful alien, Jane is remarkable precisely because of her humanity. She's an ordinary human being, one who has lived in the realm of gods, and yet now walks among them. Jane has been challenged every step of the way; the gods haven't taken kindly to the female Thor, and she's even wound up dueling Odin himself. Most remarkable of all, Jane's very humanity has allowed her to tap into Mjolnir in a way even the Odinson never has. She alone learned the secret of the God Storm that lies deep within Mjolnir, granting the hammer its incredible power. In Jane's hands, Mjolnir is no mere weapon; it is an ally in its own right.
Of course, the reality is that Jane's very humanity is what makes her worthy. She is worthy precisely because she knows the world needs a Thor, and is willing to pay the price to be one. Jane is well aware that her mortal body is dying. When she picked up Mjolnir that last time, she knew that it would cost her everything. This is what makes her a true hero; she knows the price, and she willingly pays it.