C2E2: Marvel Promises more THOR in New MIGHTY AVENGER Series

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It’s often said that contemporary comic book superheroes are influenced by the mythological gods of Greece, Rome and greater Europe. But even amongst such titans as Superman, Captain America or Spider-Man, one god stands head and shoulders above them all: Thor.

Originally created back in 1962 as a super-heroic equivalent to the epic Norse god of the same name, Marvel’s Thor was one of the many characters created by the classic creative duo of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, with scripting assists from Stan’s brother Larry Lieber. Classic myth show gods such as Thor’s as well as the Greek and Roman pantheons to be super-powered beings in human form who, despite their enormous power and magical setting, still deal with the all-too human realities of fighting, squabbling, and most importantly – not getting along with your family. Creators have taken that to heart in the stories penned for the hammer-wielding hero in the pages of his own series, as well as in team books such as the Avengers for which he is a founding member. With nigh on fifty years passed between his comics debut and the present day, Thor has regained a spot at the top in comics with his relaunched Thor series and appearances in Siege, and the upcoming movie by director Kenneth Branagh promises to introduce him to a whole new audience.

But as we learned Friday at C2E2 in Chicago, Thor is branching out with a new ongoing series by writer Roger Langridge and artist Chris Samnee. Hitting comic shelves this July, Thor: The Mighty Avengers takes the Asgardian Avenger back to his early days to “re-imagine” the hero according to Marvel solicitations. In this new series, readers will see young Norse Thor banished to the Earthly plane and eager to take it out on whomever he can fight around him. According to the Marvel solicitation, he’ll go up against “robots the size of cities”, sea creatures while still finding time to save “damsels from the vilest of villains”.

“This is the kind of super-hero comic I personally want to read,” explained series writer Roger Langridge,” not about death and body-horror and tragedy (though, for obvious dramatic reasons, the threat of tragedy is always around the corner), but about love and hope - seasoned with a big dollop of fun wherever possible. It seemed to me that if I were going to write a comic that had an enormous rainbow as one of its central icons, hope would have to be one of its driving themes! Kind of makes sense, doesn't it?”

Langridge is best known in superhero comics circles for the various one-shots about a tongue-in-cheek Marvel monster team called “Fin Fang Four” as artist with writer Scott Gray, but in the wider comics landscape he’s been the principal writer and artist behind the recent Muppet Show comic series. Although generally known for lighter more humorous fare, Langridge first broke into comics on the British title Judge Dredd and has also worked on DC’s Legends of the Dark Knight title and Star Wars Tales. But he’s not surprised to be looked at a little oddly for his jump into more serious work.

“This is the first [serious one] that actually made it into print, yeah,” explained Langridge,” although some of my longer pieces in the past have had a serious heart to them. Even in the Muppet Show comics, I try to connect with some real emotions whenever I can. But this will be the first one that would look odd filed in the "humor" section, which I guess is kind of what you meant. It's not that big a switch - good comedy contains elements of drama, and good drama contains elements of humor. It's really just a question of emphasis.”

Langridge went on to explain that while this is more serious work, it’s not “grim & gritty” as some comics have become.

Thor: The Mighty Avengerwill still have moments of levity, because I want Thor and Jane to be well-rounded individuals, and well-rounded individuals make jokes,” said the writer. “And leavening drama with humor is a very good way to make the drama seem more dramatic and the humor seem funnier, each contrasting with the other. I think humor is an essential part of the Marvel approach, going right back to Stan Lee. So I'm not abandoning the humor, but it'll be more character-driven - no boomerang fish coming out of left field or anything!”

Getting more into the title – boomerang fish or not – Langridge went into the Thor he’ll be portraying in the new series.

“Our Thor doesn't have a human alter-ego,” Langridge explained,” and in fact that becomes one of the major themes of the book - in a world of super-beings from other realms, what's so special about being human? As it turns out, quite a lot. Thor is freshly-arrived from Asgard and, despite his power, needs help due to his lack of knowledge of Earth ways -- which is where Jane Foster comes in. Jane is Thor's most significant human connection, and she becomes the readers' eyes as we get to know this strange cosmic being, seeing him as others see him.”

The character of Jane Foster has been at many times a close friend and romantic interest for Thor, from the earliest appearances in Journey Into Mystery and in recent issues of Thor written by J. Michael Straczynski and now Kieron Gillen, And in this series, she’ll be more integral than ever in the young Norse god’s path.

“[Thor: The Mighty Avenger will be] from Jane Foster's perspective,” said artist Chris Samnee,” which helps to cement just how crazy it is to have a God walking among us!”

Samnee, who recently completed the Siege: Embedded series and has worked on various other books for both Marvel and DC, is well aware of the growing tide of popularity the Thor character has experienced in recent years, and looks forward to showing people what he and Roger have to say.

“There will certainly be other Thor books hitting stands every month,” said Samnee,” and a number of titles that he'll appear in each week, but this is our chance to look at Thor in a brand new light for a new group of fans without any ties to what's going on in current continuity throughout 616 Marvel Universe. I'd equate this new series along the lines of how the Ultimate Spider-Man title took an established mythology, tossed it into the here and now and made it something that new readers and long time fans could both enjoy.”

Although portraying essentially the same character, Thor: The Mighty Avenger and the currently running Thor series will each be on their own wavelength. Like Marvel’s Marvel Adventures or First Class books, it is a modern reinterpretation of the classic character.

Thor: The Mighty Avenger takes a different look at Thor, from his origins to the world around him,” said the writer. “So we're taking that opportunity to start from scratch, taking the things that are fundamental to Thor and building on that foundation. This also means we get a chance to come up with our own takes on some classic Marvel characters, so expect to see plenty of guest-stars!

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