Catching Up with MATT FRACTION, Part 2: THOR, AvX, More

Catching Up with MATT FRACTION, Part 2

In the first half of our conversation with Matt Fraction, published this past Friday, the writer discussed his latest Marvel title, Defenders, and the one he's been writing the longest, Invincible Iron Man.

For the second part, Fraction talked the latest happenings in The Mighty Thor — where the troll Ulik has been masquerading as Tanarus, the new God of Thunder; no one remembers Thor, and only Loki can tell that something's not quite right. We also touched on his role as one of five co-writers of Avengers vs. X-Men, this year's Marvel's event series, and how it compares to last year's event series — Fear Itself, which Fraction wrote solo.

For more on Kid Loki, Donald Blake, The Mighty Thor's Point One issue, comparing Avengers vs. X-Men to a game of Risk — plus a tease of when to expect news on Fraction's latest creator-owned seires — read on.

The Mighty

Thor #14 cover.

Newsarama: Matt, in The Mighty Thor things went very quickly from Tanarus being promoted as the new God of Thunder and Thor out of the picture and dead, to Tanarus being revealed as a troll imposter and Thor making his way back almost immediately. Just given the timing of it all, were you deliberately playing with expectations in the arc?

Matt Fraction: Of course. Uncle Ben is the only character that's going to stay dead. Everybody comes back. Not even that, the Norse myth cycle is built to repeat itself, even before Marvel got their hands on him. When it ends, after Ragnarok, it reboots — it's in the myth! That's hundreds of years old. Thor came back at the end of his own funeral.

So, no, the point was never, "Thor dies again," but rather, "Thor's forgotten." "Thor's replaced in our memory." How do you get out of that? How do you get out of being a god that nobody remembers? How do you return to greatness? That's a story that I hadn't seen before, that's a story I was interested in.

Nrama: Plus, there's the subversion of Tanarus not being actually being a new good guy on the scene, but actually a character we've seen before that's impersonating the God of Thunder as a plot point.

Fraction: Right, right. That was the idea. Everybody's busy, everybody's got their own thing, we can't all write our books in service of everybody else, but for a while we were talking about doing stuff where we'd do a page of flashbacks where we see previously existing Thor adventures, but Thor was replaced by Tanarus — sort of the opportunity of writing jumpy, jerky Thor; meanwhile Thor is in a spaceship that a big monster's about to eat.


Nrama: So doing a story like this so early in the run of The Mighty Thor, not to paint things too broadly, but was the intent at least partially to kind of define what makes Thor unique, and show that you can't just put anybody in the God of Thunder role?

Fraction: Hopefully every story kind of does that. I wanted to tell a story about Loki, too; I wanted to tell a story about the little boy who didn't stop believing, because Thor is just so great to him. Thor is Loki's hero, and Loki is Thor's biggest fan. The world's not meant to not have a Thor. Boy, oh boy, just wait until he comes back.

Nrama: Kid Loki has been so much fun in both The Mighty Thor and Journey Into Mystery, I kind of unrealistically hope he stays that way forever.

Fraction: But then how could we break your heart when he turns evil again?

Nrama: Right. But it's great for the time being.

The Mighty

Thor #13 cover.

Fraction: That's a thing that's present in the original myth cycle. It's present in the spoken history of the character, but we've never gotten to see it as readers. We never got to see the Loki that Thor loved. It's hard to play Thor's heartbreak, because we always saw Loki as a son-of-a-bitch — so the chance to actually show Loki as this awesome kid that's mischievous, that's great and mischievous. The trickster-Loki. It's something we've not seen before, when you're dealing with characters that have been bonking around for 40 years, you've got to find new fields to plow. Otherwise you're just a cover band.

Nrama: Another thing you've been exploring a lot lately in Thor is the role of Donald Blake — and it looks like his role will expand even more going forward, right?

Fraction: Yeah. Blake is very important going forward, from #13 and beyond. It's a part of the character I've always enjoyed. "Are you a god in a mansuit or a man in a godsuit?" Tanarus gave me the opportunity to split them — "Oh, isn't that interesting? We've not done that." To make Blake the Jane in the relationship, and have him pining for Jane, who's doing quite well for herself, thank you. What happens when you remove the divine from someone? What does it do to them? And what if when Thor comes back, Blake doesn't go away?

The Mighty Thor

#12.1 cover.

Nrama: So by the Point One issue in April, are we going to see a new status quo with Thor in his proper place and things back to normal-ish?

Fraction: Point One is a little bit like Ages of Thunder and Reign of Blood; kind of a timeless, "Thor across the ages" thing. It's sort of a story about stories. Specifically, it's Volstagg and Sif on an adventure together, trying to story-top each other about things they've seen Thor do. "Oh yeah, well one time I saw Thor…" It's sort of like a clip show, almost, but there's also a meta-adventure happening, leading us towards a big finale. It's a lot of fun. Just a great, "everything I love about Thor condensed to 20 pages," kind of story. We get to see Thor before he had Mjolnir, we get to see him as a young kid, we get to see him across the different ages and stuff like that. It's epoch-spanning, Ragnarok cycle-spanning — and then the next arc starts in #13.

Nrama: So even though you're one of the five writers of Avengers vs. X-Men, there are no plans for The Mighty Thor or Invincible Iron Man to tie-in with that event, correct?

Fraction: Yeah. I am pregnant in all kinds of different directions, and didn't have the space. There won't be tie-ins that I handle; I don't know what the greater strategy is.


Nrama: From your perspective, what's it been like going from Fear Itself last year to another event series — albeit one that appears to be a lot different. Fear Itself had plenty of action, but it also seemed a bit subtler and more thematic, while with Avengers vs. X-Men, the concept is right there in the title.

Fraction: It's pretty bombastic, yeah. "What's it about?" "Avengers vs. X-Men." "What happens?" "Avengers vs. X-Men." It is big and crazy, that's for sure, and sort of big and crazy in a different way than Fear Itself. And obviously it's a burden being shared by many other people, which makes it different — it's not just me and Tom and Stuart, it's a different world, but somehow bigger.

Literally, when you called, I had just made a roster of 20 different Avengers on four different five-man squads that are in action simultaneously around the world in this particular sequence of issue #7 so I could keep track at a glance. It's like playing Risk or something.

Nrama: To wrap things up, Casanova is obviously still going strong, but you've hinted around about another creator-owned project on the horizon. Is that something we can plan on hearing more about in the near future?

Fraction: Yeah! New Icon book — hopefully we'll be announcing it at Emerald City. [Newsarama note: Emerald City Comicon is scheduled for March 30-April 1.] 

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