This week's Avengers #42 from writer Jason Aaron and artists Luca Maresca and David Curiel seems to offer up a major revelation about the mighty Thor, God of Thunder.
And, when pieced together with other clues from current Marvel Comics, the big secret could spell even bigger ramifications for the future of the Marvel Universe - and maybe even its past.
Spoilers ahead for Avengers #42
For his centuries-long life (or lives, given Ragnarok, the Asgardian cycle of life and rebirth – remember that bit), the mighty Thor has believed his mother was Gaea (or Jord, to the Asgardians), the Earth goddess, who had a dalliance with Thor's father Odin. As Thor's legend goes, Odin wished to have a son who was connected directly to both Asgard and Midgard (what the Asgardians call Earth, we're almost done with glossary terms), and thus Thor was born, and his lifelong love of Earth with him.
However, in Avengers #42, Thor receives an apparent revelation that calls his entire history into question.
In the midst of the current 'Enter the Phoenix' arc, in which the Phoenix Force, a fiery cosmic entity of life, death, and rebirth, hosts a tournament of Marvel heroes and villains to choose its new host, the Phoenix itself seems to appear to Thor in the form of her prehistoric Avengers 1,000,000 BC host, the mysterious early mutant known as 'Firehair.'
As Thor ponders the nature of his relationship to the Phoenix, to which he feels a strange, intrinsic connection which he describes as "some form of love," Firehair/Phoenix appears to Thor, promising to tell Thor "the truth."
"It's time you knew the truth of your own existence," she says. "The secret your father Odin has hidden from you for centuries."
"I've come to tell you everything…My son."
Thus, it's seemingly revealed that almost everything Thor has always believed about his existence is a lie. If Firehair's implication is true, it means that Thor's real mother is not just one of the first Phoenix hosts, but a mutant to boot – meaning Thor himself may somehow be an Asgardian mutant.
This whole concept isn't totally out of the blue. It was previously revealed that Odin and Firehair had an apparent romantic affair. And remember that whole Ragnarok thing we mentioned, in which the Asgardian pantheon dies and is reborn in new forms over and over through countless eternities?
Sounds a lot like the Phoenix, an eternal cosmic entity embodying those same exact forces.
Given Thor's own experience with the cycle of Ragnarok, a genetic connection to the Phoenix seems like a plausible retcon/development – and of course, no one keeps a secret like Odin.
And this wouldn't be the first time there's been a surprise when it comes to Odin's children - back in 2014, it was revealed he had a secret child with Freyja called Aldrif - a.k.a. the hero now known as Angela. Elements of this revelation were used as inspiration for the MCU version of Hela seen in Thor: Ragnarok.
We'll likely learn more in March 3's Avengers #43, which leads up to April's 'Enter the Phoenix' finale in April's Avengers #44.
And of course, 'Enter the Phoenix' leads into May 2021's Marvel summer event Heroes Reborn, in which the Marvel Universe is remade in a story that pays homage to 1995's 'Heroes Reborn' for the story's 25th anniversary – this time presenting a world where the Avengers never formed as opposed to a world where the Avengers formed without most other Marvel heroes.
Call us prognosticators, but if Thor is Phoenix's bouncing baby boy – and a mutant to boot – is it possible this whole thing is setting up a situation where Thor becomes the new host of the Phoenix?
We know the Phoenix has an affinity for mutants (Phoenix first appeared in Uncanny X-Men in the late '70s, possessing Jean Grey), and as Wolverine points out in Avengers #42, it's since possessed many others (including him). And if Thor becomes the Phoenix, could his attention turn to Asgard, leaving him to remake Earth/Midgard into a world where he never became a superhero or a founding Avenger?
Considering how bitter he may be about the lies he's been told about his connection to Midgard, could erasing his own past on Earth be Thor's way of coping with the revelation?
Thor hasn't seemed to show up in any of the Heroes Reborn teasers yet, with the only mention of anything to do with him being Tony Stark described as "a hard-drinking Atheist with a hatred for hammers" in Marvel's description of Heroes Reborn #1, which may be one of the biggest indicators of all.
As for the Phoenix, aside from providing the impetus for the Reborn world, Phoenix is mentioned in Marvel's description of Heroes Reborn #3 as "the newest inmate at Ravencroft Asylum."
All that said, Avengers writer Jason Aaron isn't Thor's guiding force anymore – that's writer Donny Cates, who's been the lead creator on Thor alongside artist Nic Klein since Aaron's departure. Aaron previously told Newsarama that whoever became the new host of the Phoenix would have a "new status quo" that would continue longterm, which might disrupt Cates's plans.
But then again, Aaron also told Newsarama he and Cates were definitely considering working together when the time was right, and had even discussed which story they might tell. Cates also just cleared his plate of his ongoing Venom run, which concludes with April's Venom #200.
It's not impossible the story Aaron and Cates may team up to write could involve Thor, Phoenix, and more – especially depending on how long Heroes Reborn lasts – potentially setting up something even bigger for Cates and Thor on the horizon. The last time Aaron teased Newsarama with something big - a meeting between his Avengers and aspects of Jonathan Hickman's X-Men line - it led to 'Enter the Phoenix.'
Thor's got big Marvel Cinematic Universe status quo changes ahead in Thor: Love and Thunder - and the tale of Marvel Comics character Thunderstrike could play into Thor: Love and Thunder as well.