In the story introducing Marvel’s version of Thor it was established that his hammer bore the inscription “Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor”. It’s a theme that Walt Simonson played with in the 1980s in introducing the alien Beta Ray Bill, and Jason Aaron returns to the topic in this series.

On publication this was quite the shocker. The opening chapter details why the Thor familiar for fifty years is no longer active, and that results in the new Thor. This Thor, as the title indicates, is female, in a helmet incorporating a mask, and the possession of Thor’s hammer has a startling effect not only on her capabilities, but on her speech patterns. She spouts forth in the cod-Shakespearean dialogue introduced by Stan Lee in 1962, while her thoughts – yes, it’s the return of thought balloons – are in English.

Plots continue to some extent from Aaron’s previous Thor series, with the Roxxon Corporation, endearingly described as “apparently a guild of miners and tradesmen”, at the heart of the Frost Giants invading Earth. Also involved is Malekith, King of the Elves, a trickster now familiar from the Thor movie, and interestingly drawn by Russell Dauterman, forever with his head angled as if considering any given situation. Dauterman also supplies suitably threatening Frost Giants, rather than the substitute hammer-fodder ninepins they’ve been in the past. His style is both imposing and decorative, delivering grandeur and ornate magical spells.

This new Thor’s identity remains secret in this book, although it’s revealed that she is known to the original model, and those with a knowledge of Thor’s history can take a good guess. She’s surprisingly effective for a neophyte, confident and capable, and the plot twists in a manner that turns the pages.

Aaron’s characterisation of the Asgardians throughout is impressive, hitting the right notes. Odin has previously been the doting father prone to the odd temper tantrum, but he’s credible here as a God who considers himself above mortal concerns or justification, ruling by divine right. As befits the transfer of Thor’s identity to a woman, Odin’s wife Freyja plays a significant role, having been sidelined for decades.

A stand-alone chapter illustrated by Jorge Medina follows. It’s a bitty, character-building piece, largely occurring in Asgard and setting up plots for the next volume. Along the way Thor sets off against the Absorbing Man, scathing about the new identity and enquiring if her predecessor was sent “to sensitivity training camp so he’d stop calling Earth girls wenches?”

There are those who’ve not been able to cope with the idea of Thor’s identity transferring to a woman, which is their loss. Jason Aaron’s previous run on Thor was thoroughly entertaining, and so is this.