J.M. DeMatteis has shown some serious range over his 30-plus year comic book career, from seriously dark Spider-Man stories like "Kraven's Last Hunt" to co-writing the "Bwa-Ha-Ha" era of Justice League International with Keith Giffen.
The former Silver Surfer writer is once again embracing the cosmic side of the Marvel Universe with June's The Mighty Thor Annual #1, a one-shot story that guest stars the Watcher, Galactus and the Surfer himself. DeMatteis describes the story, "Scrier's Game," as "very big, very cosmic" with stakes high enough to even make the Son of Odin nervous.
DeMatteis, who previously wrote Thor in 2010's two-part Chaos War: Thor, talked to Newsarama via email about returning to the God of Thunder and the Silver Surfer, working with Mighty Thor Annual artist Rich Elson and his other currently ongoing creative endeavors — which includes episodes of the ThunderCats relaunch and upcoming IDW series The Adventures of Augusta Wind.The Mighty Thor
Annual #1 cover
by Patrick Zircher.Newsarama: This marks your return to Thor following the two-part Chaos War tie-in from 2010. How does that story compare with what you're doing in the annual? What different aspects of the character are you looking to explore?
J.M. DeMatteis: Despite the fact that Chaos War was a huge, cosmic event, my Thor chapter was a fairly intimate one, focusing as much on Don Blake as it did on the Thunder God. "Scrier's Game," on the other hand is very big, very cosmic. So much so that even a god like Thor sometimes seems overwhelmed by the forces at work in the story. That said, there's a human story at the heart of "Scrier's Game," as well, which focuses on Blake's relationship with a fellow doctor who turns out to be something other than what she appears to be.
That's actually one of the themes of the story: Thor is never really sure if anyone is who they appear to be. Motivations are like mercury, good could be evil, evil could be good, and most characters walk a grey world between.
Nrama: The annual also features Silver Surfer, a character you've written extensively in the past. In the years since your run on that title, has your perspective on Silver Surfer changed at all?
DeMatteis: The Surfer is one of my three favorite characters in the Marvel Universe (Doc Strange and Spider-Man being the other two) and the reason I responded to him as a kid and respond to him today is that, along with being one of the most powerful beings in the MU, he's also the most compassionate, the most spiritual. I love the Lee-Buscema run on the Surfer, especially the first half a dozen issues: I think it's some of Stan's very best writing and Buscema's very best art. And of course Kirby's Surfer, which in many ways was very different than the Lee-Buscema Surfer interpretation, remains a classic.
My view of the Surfer hasn't changed much since then: for all his appearances, for all his interpretations, his greatest power remains his heart. But, let's be honest, those cosmic blasts are cool, too — and the fact that he's a character who has the entire multiverse as his playground only adds to his appeal.
Nrama: As noted, the story in the annual certainly doesn't look like a quiet one, with Thor caught in the middle between warring cosmic entities. What more can you share at this point about the issue?
DeMatteis: Along with Thor and the Surfer, we've got the Watcher, Galactus, Scrier (the version from my Silver Surfer run, not the Spider-Man villain), the Other and a character I created back in the '80s, a cosmic entity named Oblivion. The story starts small, with Don Blake and his aforementioned doctor friend, and then gets bigger and bigger. As noted, the fun of the story is that Thor (and the reader) is never quite sure who's wearing the white hat and who's wearing the black. Everyone's motives are suspect and the entire universe is on the line.The Mighty Thor
Annual #1 variant
cover by Arthur Adams.I'm a huge Kirby fan, and a huge fan of the cosmic sector of the Marvel Universe, so it was great fun to mix all these characters together and paint my story on a very broad canvas.
Nrama: Rich Elson, a Thor veteran, is illustrating the annual. What makes the two of you a good match for this story?
DeMatteis: I wasn't familiar with Rich's art before we started working on this story but I quickly became a fan. Rich's work is a wonderful blend of Buscema elegance and Kirby cosmicness, yet it's very much his own. His storytelling is impeccable and he portrays both the intimate and monumental aspects of "Scrier's Game" with equal skill. Who could ask for anything more?
Nrama: Where does the annual take place? Is it concurrent with what's going on in the main Mighty Thor series?
DeMatteis: Honestly, I have no clue where this fits in continuity… but I don't think there's anything in the story that violates what's going on with the book currently. The good news is that "Scrier's Game" works as a standalone. Anything you need to know about the characters and their world is explained within the context of the story.
Nrama: To wrap up, other than the Thor annual in June, where else should fans look to check out your work? I know you've been keeping busy with work in animation, and I believe there's an IDW series in the works?The Adventures of
Augusta Wind sketch
by Vassilis Gogtzilas.DeMatteis: Yes, I continue to work in animation—my next ThunderCats episode airs on Cartoon Network April 21 — and the new series from IDW is an all-ages fantasy called The Adventures of Augusta Wind, illustrated by an amazing Greek artist named Vassilis Gogtzilas. I'm writing the first issue now so I don't think the book will be out till the end of the year. If you're a fan of Abadazad or Stardust Kid, I think you'll enjoy Augusta.
Along with Augusta, I've got three other originals in development — one with Mike Ploog, one with Tim Hamilton and one with Dan Sweetman. We're talking to publishers right now so I'm hoping to find homes for all of them in the next month or two. Along with that I'm co-writing a novel with my friend Derek Ivan Webster and I've also launched two new businesses: one is a writing workshop, Imagination 101 — which allows me to spend a weekend with a group of writers talking about both the practicalities and metaphysics of writing for comics and animation—and the other is Creation Point Story Consultation, which allows me to work one-on-one with writers, helping them to develop their material. You can read more about both at my website: www.jmdematteis.com.
I've got a number of other irons in the fire right now, so it's a busy, creatively fruitful time.Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!