With "Uncanny Avengers" reportedly leading a positive sales charge for Marvel Comics as they begin their Marvel NOW! relaunch, the publisher is spending this week promoting other series in the line as part of their regular "Next Big Things" press calls.
Today, they got the ball rolling with Jason Aason and Esad Ribic's "Thor: God of Thunder." The writer was joined by his editor Lauren Sankovitch, and CBR was among the outlets on hand for all the news.
"What I wanted to do with this book was focus in on a big way on Thor himself," Aaron said. "I'm going to focus on not one version of Thor but three." He promised a young Thor drinking and carousing with Viking women, a modern Thor on a cosmic quest and a new future Thor who's missing limbs and more. Meanwhile, all three will be attacked by a new villain described as, "This is a being who's been stalking the cosmos for centuries killing gods. We don't know why, and we don't know where he came from...At the end of the day, it's about 'Who is Thor? What does Thor want? And how has he changed over the years?'"
For the young Thor's era, Aaron said that this is "Thor before he was worthy" of the hammer, so the brash young Viking carries and axe and comes to Midgard to "screw Viking women and drink mead." Those chapters were inspired by Aaron's rediscovery of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's "Tales of Asgard" stories where "Their big Mangog story was probably my favorite Thor story I've ever read...there are so many great ideas there, and for me, this is all about playing with this rich catalog of ideas."
In discussing the art of Ribic on the book, Aaron said he was amazed at the artist's rendering of a "city of the space gods" in issue #3. As that happened, Ribic dialed into the call. "The main thing is scale," the artist said, noting that it's hard to show the expanse of the world on the page while it's easy to do that in movies. "The problem is technical in nature, really...I went for something that constantly reminded readers 'This is an enormous building that's impossible for humans to build.'"
The artist went on to say that every part of the story presented challenges for his artistic eye. "Most of the energy I expend comes from finding different ways to draw things than they've been done before...aside from the characters. The characters I try to treat as new because the way Jason wrote them felt very fresh for me...I'm trying to present them as new characters that haven't been published for the past 40 years."
Asked about the future Thor and his loss of limbs and an eye, the writer said, "There's a story there. Initially, that'll be part of the mystery...As long as I'm on this book, I want to keep going back to stories about young Thor and old Thor." He said that old Thor would replace his arm with that of the Destroyer, but mysteries would also abound as to what happened to the gods of Asgard and the people of earth.
Aaron said that he had spoken with his fellow Marvel writers and Editorial about the idea that Asgard's inhabitants may just be aliens who live much longer than man, but for him, he considers them true gods, and a huge part of his story explored the idea of mythology and what makes a god.
"I wanted to do some present day cosmic action while also doing a 'Year One' story and a futuristic story," Aaron said of the three timelines, comparing this series to him writing "Batman: Year One," "Dark Knight Returns" and a current Batman tale all at the same time for the life of the entire series. He would not say whether the three Thors would ever cross paths directly, but elements like Thor's axe will travel throughout all the time periods to tie the book together.
"It's all the same guy, but it's this slightly shifted way of viewing himself and this world...you not only get to see him at all these different times, you get to understand him in each era," Sankovitch added. Aaron agreed that getting into Thor's head over many eras was his favorite part of writing the book.
Asked whether Thor's recent home of Broxton, OK would play into the series, Aaron said that they were getting away from that location as the present-day story would go into space for the most part (Iron Man will guest in the modern day, briefly). While small town America "is home to me," the writer was excited about bringing the reader up to the gods' level rather than bringing them down to ours. "I want to get inside his head. I think you can relate to any character whether it's a Canadian with a healing factor and claws that's been alive for hundreds of years or an Asgardian god. It's all about hitting those beats we can relate to...just like Stan and Jack did, I want to get a balance of Thor out in space and Thor here."
The writer explained that he felt this book overall brought together all different kinds of genres he's mixed into his superhero work from grindhouse style action to Grant Morrison-esque sci-fi. "This is not a book I could have written two years ago, five years ago. I feel like this is the right book at this time in my career and for where I'm going from here on out."
He also noted that he'd be stripping away the supporting cast for now, but eventually characters like the Warriors Three, Sif and the rest of the Asgardians would appear. "It's all about how you set that stuff on the table...again, my favorite part of the Stan and Jack stuff was how they'd shift between." He noted that he wouldn't be returning to the Don Blake secret identity, but many elements from the past would work their way in. Like his "Wolverine" run, "God of Thunder" will shift genres arc-by-arc. "We're going to be moving around to a lot of places fairly quickly," Sankovitch added, saying they'd introduce new Marvel U locales to keep fans on their toes. "This book has no problem with taking thing to the edge all the time."
The writer praised Ribic's ability to role with the changing punches of the series. "Poor Esad is the one who has to carry the burden of this!"
Both writer and editor spoke confidently about the idea that Thor could never run out of good story ideas as the character as existed for so long both on and off the page, that the potential for ideas are endless. The cosmic father/son relationship between Thor and Odin will hang over the series to make all those times relatable, but for now, Odin will not appear on the page.
"The future Thor stuff is pretty dark and melancholy. It's not drinking and carousing...things have gone to hell," Aaron said. "This is by far the oldest Thor we've ever seen. I know Dan Jurgens did some stuff with an old Thor who also lost an arm, but this is far beyond that." He noted that the future Thor will exist "near the end of the universe."
Ribic spoke to how colorist Ive Svorcina was complimenting his art, and he told the backstory of their collaboration. "After looking for a lot of colorists, I was very happy with the work Dean White did with my stuff," Ribic said. "But [rather than keeping coordination] we came to our senses that the easiest way to achieve comparable results was this guy I know who lived near me and was already starting to do his own stuff in my style...we thought he'd do a better job than trying to talk across the globe."
Asked about whether Loki will play in this series, the team promised no appearances by the character for now as the Kid Loki character will be appearing in "Young Avengers" after the Thor/Loki brother relationship gets a (currently) final note put on it at the end of Kieron Gillen's "Journey Into Mystery" run. Sankovitch left the door open for more of the character in the series. "He's Loki, so you can never count him out." Aaron also said that Loki would have to play a role in Thor's series at some point.
Villain talk continued on the god butchering villain who will appear in the first arc. "I wanted to do a creepy, serial killer horror story, pretty much," Aaron said, noting that god killers have been seen before, but not like this one. "This is not an axe-wielding Kirby villain. This is a creepy little guy who sticks to the shadows...and we don't know why [he's so effective]...this is more 'Seven' than it is a traditional comic book villain."
The call wrapped with talk of Beta Ray Bill who Aaron said would not show up at the start, but he reminded that his first experience with "Thor" was the Walt Simonson issues, and he was excited to play with toys from that run eventually.
"Thor: God of Thunder" #1 goes on sale on November 14 from Marvel Comics.