Last month, Jane Foster, Marvel's Goddess of Thunder, finally fell in battle. This week, the Mighty Thor gets a fitting sendoff - but as is so often the case with comics, the end of one story is merely the beginning of another. And some stories of Asgard's fiercest defender are not quite over yet.
Odin guides a reluctant Jane Foster to the afterlife in The Mighty Thor #706. Image: Russell Dauterman and Matt Wilson (Marvel Comics)
The Mighty Thor #706 - the last issue from the current team that is Jason Aaron, Russell Dauterman and Matt Wilson - picks up in the immediate aftermath of Thor #705. The Mangog, the legendary godkiller that had come to ravage Asgard, is dead. But so is Mjolnir, which means its current wielder has perished too.
The issue flits back and forth between the perspectives of two people unwilling to accept that Jane's life is at an end. On the surface of the moon, the Odinson howls and wails at her loss, bellowing for healers and lashing out in rage at Jane's sacrifice. But at the gates of Valhalla, Jane Foster herself is also unready to take her last steps to eternal rest.
Even when Odin himself shows up to guide her, accepting that the Thor that has caused him such consternation in the wake of his son's unworthiness has ultimately proven herself worthy in battle, she is hesitant to accept that she's dead. Jane Foster has spent so long living in the moment, not knowing which will be her last, that she still isn't ready to go just yet.
Aw, Jane! Image: Russell Dauterman and Matt Wilson (Marvel Comics)
But while Jane's hesitance to cross over into Valhalla keeps her in limbo, it's the Odinson's wrathful denial to let go of her that leads to a surprising turn of events.
The God Tempest held within Mjolnir, the storm that grants its wielder the power of thunder itself, has been freed in the hammer's destruction. And, like so many things in The Mighty Thor, it responds to faith: The Odinson's pleas for something, anything to restore his dearest friend to life are answered by the God Tempest directly imbuing him, turning him into a superheroic defibrillator.
But Odinson's faith alone isn't enough to wield the tempest - it requires another, in the form of Odin himself. By choosing to help honour the Thor he's spent years despising, and a woman he's been frequently annoyed by,
Odin's act of faith is almost even stronger than his son's love for Jane. Their faith, combined with the mother of all storms, does the unthinkable: It brings Jane Foster back to life.
A splash page from The Mighty Thor #706. Image: Russell Dauterman and Matt Wilson (Marvel Comics)
After all, this saga was called "The Death of the Mighty Thor". It wasn't called "The Death of Jane Foster". The journey of the Goddess of Thunder is truly at an end with the death of Mjolnir, but the God Tempest contained within it had one final gift to give.
With the hammer gone for good, the revived Jane is free to continue her cancer treatments - the duty of being a Thor no longer expunging the chemo slowly working to repair her body.
But as Jane said when she first took up the hammer herself all those years ago, there must always be a Thor - and so she gifts a tiny fragment of Mjolnir to the Odinson, tasking him to take both it and what she has learned from her time as the Goddess of Thunder, to once again become Thor himself.
Although Jane herself needed Mjolnir to physically transform into Thor, what made her the legendary thunderer was the faith she had without it - and now it's up to the Odinson to prove that he doesn't need a hammer to be a worthy Thor once more.
The Mighty Thor #706. Image: Russell Dauterman and Matt Wilson (Marvel Comics)
While some may feel it's a copout that Jane survived her destined death, this is a fitting end to the story Aaron, Dauterman and Wilson have been telling over the last few years of Mighty Thor. Turning Jane into a teacher for the Odinson, showing him by grand example what defines a Thor more than any magic hammer could, ensures that her legacy as the Goddess of Thunder will live on in him forever.
And now, as she faces her cancer in the hopes of beating it for good, she can live on alongside him.