The definitive issue-by-issue collecting guide and trade reading order for Doctor Jane Foster comic books as herself, The Mighty Thor, and Valkyrie in omnibus, hardcover, and trade paperback collections. Part of Crushing Krisis’s Crushing Comics. Last updated June 2022 with titles scheduled for release through December 2022.
Jane Foster spent 50 years as a minor supporting character before becoming a full-time superhero, but being minor didn’t make her unremarkable.
(Note: This summary and guide contains major spoilers for Jane Foster and for Thor, due to the way their plots relate! If you want a quick, non-spoiler reading list, skip down to the Greatest Hits section.)
Foster was introduced in Thor’s second issue, Journey Into Mystery (1956) #84, as the attending nurse at the private practice of Thor’s human alter-ego, Dr. Donald Blake.
For a woman in Marvel’s Silver Age, nurse Jane Foster is often particularly assertive – especially compared to Marvel contemporaries like Jean Grey and the Invisible Girl. While this established Foster as her own character and an opinionated medical professional, her assertiveness often came at the cost of belittling or patronizing Dr. Blake for being disabled
Jane Foster’s period as Thor’s romantic interest is much more short-lived than you might realize – she is written out of his ongoing comic in January 1967 after a negative first encounter with Odin, less than five years after her debut! In fact, many of her memories of her time with Thor are erased.
It would be almost a decade before her return, in which Jane Foster becomes inextricably tied to Thor’s ongoing Asgardian love interest, Sif. However, this run isn’t as long as it looks on paper – Jane spends the first few issues of it comatose, and she is hardly seen or referenced after Thor (1966) #250 in 1976!
When Foster finally does make an on-panel return in 1983, it’s to be swiftly married off and shuffled off the page save for occasional recaps of her relationship. She next turns up in 1994 towards the close of the first volume of Thor, separated from her husband, caring for her son, and embroiled in a caper involving the High Evolutionary’s AniMutants.
Starting in 1998, author Dan Jurgens casts Jane in a new role – Doctor Jane Foster. There’s no on-page explanation given for when, why, or how Foster completed medical school. The change allows her to drive an ongoing subplot with Thor’s new Earthly alter-ego, as well as make appearances in Iron Man and Avengers as “token medical expert.” There are passing mentions of her husband and son, but they don’t appear.
J. Michael Straczynski and Matt Fraction bring Dr. Foster back as a key player in Thor’s adventures from 2006 to 2011, again relying on her expertise as a doctor to insert her into their subplots.
However, it is Jason Aaron that would bring Jane Foster her most memorable plot and her superheroic turn. She begins as a supporting player in Aaron’s Thor: God of Thunder, revealing to Thor that she has cancer with an uncertain prognosis. As one of several woman supporting characters in the run, she is a prime suspect as the secret identity behind the new female Mighty Thor that debuts in the final pages of God of Thunder and continues to her own Thor (2014) series.
Jason Aaron’s story for Jane and for the new Thor is complex and satisfying as it stretches across multiple series from 2014 to 2018, giving Jane Foster her first true arc as a character as drawn by industry super-star Russel Dauterman. It’s one of Marvel’s true evergreen masterworks of narrative of the 2010s. By the finale, it seems like Foster’s story is complete and completely resolved… but, Aaron and co-writer Al Ewing had more plans for her following Aaron’s Thor finale in War of the Realms, which spun Jane Foster into a new status quo as a Valkyrie!
Jane Foster makes nearly 200 appearances before she transforms into the Mighty Thor, but are any of them worth reading? I did all of the homework so you don’t have to! I read every single Jane Foster appearance, ever for this guide so I could summarize her pre-Mjolnir greatest hits for you as well as give you a summary of her action in every appearance.
Whether you want to read every appearance like I did or just get the summary so you can dive into her time as a superhero, this guide has you covered. [Read more…] about Jane Foster, Mighty Thor & Valkyrie – Definitive Collecting Guide & Reading Order