Over the past year, Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic have taken Marvel’s Thor to new heights in an epic, time- and space-traveling battle against a self-professed god butcher named Gor. And now in August 14, 2013's Thor: God of Thunder #11, that final battle comes to its apex. And before the dust even begins to settle, Thor will be back in a double-shipped #12 in August peeling back the curtain to see Thor in his off-time, then straight into a new arc in September’s #13 that sees the Odinson face-off against the foe from the forthcoming Thor: The Dark World antagonist, Malekith the Accursed.
Newsarama talks about all of this – and more – in an interview conducted with Aaron earlier this week that probes into the “God Butcher Saga” finale, the scope of the series, and the Asgardian road trip he and Ron Garney have planned starting in September. Courtesy of Marvel, we’re also debuting a couple of interior pages by guest artist Nic Klein from August 28’s issue #12.
Newsarama: Let’s get right into it, Jason. On the 14th we’re seeing the conclusion to the epic “God Butcher Saga.” What can readers expect?
Jason Aaron: This wraps up the whole story that’s been going on for 11 issues, way back in issue #1. This is the finale for the God Butcher story, and sets the stage for where we go after. At the end of this, Thor’s going to be left with a lot of questions, such as: what does it mean to be a good god? Is he a good god? And if anyone is a good god. These thoughts are going to drive him for many issues.
Nrama: I’ve read how this arc was originally intended by you to be smaller, but Axel Alonso encouraged you to broaden its scope into these 11 issues. Now that you’ve finished writing the script, can you say how the added space affected your story?
Aaron: I think it was the right decision, and gave the story more room to breathe. If I had done it as originally intended , the first arc wouldn’t have been able to focus on the three versions of Thor and that’s the main thing people have responded to. With the extended run, I was able to give each Thor their own issue and explore their worlds a little bit; show how they’re different, how they’re similar, and make them three unique characters in their own right. It was the right thing to do, and giving the three Thors extra space will pay well not just through the first arc but through my entire run on the Thor: God of Thunder.
Axel’s decision also allowed me to make things bigger, to make the stakes higher, and to play with the time travel aspect of the story. We were able to not just show how Thor changes with time, but how Gor changes as well. Gor went from being a pretty simple guy on his own to being a serial killer of gods and eventually obtained his own world with millions of people under him including legions of god slaves, become very much a dark god himself. So it’s been great.
Nrama: One of the most memorable parts of this arc for me has been the addition of two other Thors – Young Thor and King Thor from future time. While it might be premature for me to ask for spinoff series for each, will we be seeing more of them in the future of Thor: God of Thunder?
Aaron: Yeah, I don’t know about young Thor and King Thor getting their own series someday, although it would be nice if I could write three Thor series at the same time. But as for seeing all three versions of Thor again, definitely. You’ll see all three in issue #12, right after the end of the God Butcher arc. I said in an earlier interview that after “God Bomb” wrapped I didn’t think we’d have another issue featuring all three at the same time, then I turn around in the very next issue and do just that.
Nrama: In addition to more Thors, you also brought in a new rendition of the Warriors Three in three granddaughters of King Thor – Atli, Ellisiv and Frig. How did they come to be in your mind, and have we seen the last of them?
Aaron: No, we certainly haven’t seen the last of them. They’ll play major roles in King Thor stories going forward. Part of his story is showing how King Thor became more like his father than he ever wanted or realized he would be when he was a child. And with the granddaughters, I’ve given King Thor his own version of Thor – three rambunctious offspring that as you can imagine will be driving him crazy the same way Thor did for his father.
Nrama: Just two weeks after this finale in issue #11, you’re coming back with guest artist Nic Klein to bring Thor back to Earth. What can you tell us about this issue?
Aaron: For the first 11 issues of the book Thor has been, for the most part, traveling in space or traveling through time and we haven’t seen him much on Earth or Asgard at all. So in Thor: God of Thunder #12 we’re seeing him come back to Earth.
Just the idea that no matter what Thor is up to he comes back to Earth is something special. This time he’s been gone for awhile, so its sort of question of what Thor does when he comes back to Earth after being gone for so long. Who does he hang out with? Who does he catch up with? There are some surprising answers in this issue, as well as bringing back supporting characters like Jane Foster. We’ll also introduce a new character, a young S.H.I.E.L.D. cadet, as a possible new love interest for Thor.
Nrama: You mentioned earlier some more of Young Thor and King Thor.
Aaron: Yes, while the issue primarily focuses on present day Thor, both those guys are glimpsed. The next arc, ‘The Accursed,” focuses exclusively on present day Thor and brings him back to ground interacting with some usual support characters, as well as Asgard, Midgard, and across the nine realms. But after that, there will be a standalone issue that focuses just on Young Thor. Then the story right after that will feature King Thor. As long as I’m on the book, they’ll be popping up. I’ve got big overarching stories to tell with those two, as well as present day Thor.
Nrama: You mention Jane Foster, someone we haven’t seen in some time. Last we saw of her she was working as a doctor in Broxton, Oklahoma. Where’s she at now?
Aaron: She’s still in Broxton, but there’s an new development in her life that we pick up on in that issue.
Nrama: When I see Jane Foster, I can’t help but think of Donald Blake, Thor’s one-time alter ego. Will the good Dr. Blake be showing up here?
Aaron: No, I don’t really have any interest in doing Donald Blake stories. Maybe it’s just I don’t know what to do with that sort of alter ego. But at this point, there are no plans by me to bring back Donald Blake to give Thor any human side or alter ego. I’m happy with him being Thor 24/7.
Nrama: Understood. In September you and frequent collaborator Ron Garney re-team for an arc that sees Thor face-off with Malekith the Accursed, one of the villains in the upcoming Thor movie. Malekith hasn’t been seen much in comics recently, so can you tell us what makes him interesting to you as a character – and what makes him someone to be feared?
Aaron: There are a couple questions the story tries to answer. Malekith was the big villain from Walter Simonson’s run on Thor, and at the time he was the leader of the Dark Elves of Svartalfheim. Since then he’s popped up a few times here and there, but he starts in “The Accursed” arc in an otherworldly prison with some of his dark elf minions come to break him free. From there they set off on a rampage of all nine realms, with him murdering his own people over what they became in his absence.
This affords me the opportunity to take a road trip through the nine realms. By the end of the book, I want readers to know the difference between Svartalfheim, Jotunheim, Alfheim – all the 'heims' in Norse mythology. We’ll also have a map to help with that. We’ll see each one of those worlds in the course of the story, and learn who’s where, what the terrain is like, and how it’s all different. By the end of “The Accursed” we’ll have a much clearer picture of the setting of Thor’s world, and certainly have a bigger picture of Malekith’s role within that.
Nrama: In an interview on CBR you described Malekith as the Joker to Thor’s Batman. Can you elaborate on their dynamic?
Aaron: Malekith is very much a sort of mad butcher as well as a dark sorcerer. He makes for a good foil for Thor in that he’s so much of what Thor hates and despises. He’s someone content to just chaos and malevolence for just the sake of chaos and malevolence. He’s willing to do absolutely whatever it takes to get what he wants. He’ll kill, butcher and maim absolutely anyone, and sets out on an insane bloody rampage over the course of this arc.
Nrama: The “God Butcher Saga” had a really epic, nigh Asgardian mythology scope – helped no doubt by Esad Ribic’s art. How would you describe what you and Ron have going with this?
Aaron: This upcoming arc, more so than the 12 issues before it, a high-fantasy story. While the whole “God Butcher Saga” had elements of fantasy, sci-fi and horror all mixed together, “The Accursed” is very much high-fantasy. Right out of the gate we’ve got elves, talk of fantastic worlds, strange creatures, Malekith riding a flying tiger, as well as more dwarves, giants, trolls and elves than you can possibly count. It’s very much learning into the fantasy aspect of Thor, but at the same time a bit darker. It’s not all pixies and winged fairies, but there are pixies and winged fairies. It’s part western, part Apocalypse Now, with loads and loads of fantasy.