Artwork of the new Thor released with the announcementMarvel Comics

Iconic Marvel superhero Thor is set to be portrayed as a woman later this year.

Marvel had promised a "thunderous" announcement to be made on US daily talk show The View and they certainly delivered, announcing the most substantial shake-up to their superhero brand in many years.

The teaser artwork in fullMarvel Comics

It fell to actress Whoopi Goldberg to break the news, saying: "It's a huge day in the Marvel Universe. Thor, the God of Thunder, he messed up, and he's no longer worthy to hold that damn hammer of his.

"For the first time in history, that hammer is being held by a woman. That's right. Thor is a woman!"

How can that be? Thor is a man... well, an Asgardian man... actually called Thor. How can this happen? Clarification later came from Marvel itself.

"No longer is the classic male hero able to hold the mighty hammer, Mjölnir, a brand new female hero will emerge who will be worthy of the name THOR," reads a statement (via Mary Sue).

Marvel editor Wil Moss added that it was time for Thor to enter the 21st century, saying: "The inscription on Thor's hammer reads 'Whosoever holds this hammer, if HE be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.' Well it's time to update that inscription.

"The new Thor continues Marvel's proud tradition of strong female characters like Captain Marvel, Storm, Black Widow and more. And this new Thor isn't a temporary female substitute – she's now the one and only Thor, and she is worthy!"

The new comic series will be penned by Jason Aaron, who explains: "This is not She-Thor. This is not Lady Thor. This is not Thorita. This is THOR. This is the THOR of the Marvel Universe. But it's unlike any Thor we've ever seen before."

Marvel's female Thor will make her debut on newstands this October.