THOR and DeMatteis Enter the CHAOS WAR Fray in November

THOR and DeMatteis Enter the CHAOS WAR

Given its dire consequences, numerous nefarious deities and ripe potential for epic battle scenes, you couldn’t expect Thor to stay away from an event like Chaos War for long. The God of Thunder gets involved in a big way come November with Chaos War: Thor, a two-issue series written by J.M. DeMatteis and illustrated by Brian Ching. Spilling out of events in that month’s Chaos War #3, co-written by Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente with art by Khoi Pham, Thor comes into conflict with Glory, one of the Chaos King’s alien slave gods. As DeMatteis tells us, it’s emphasis on “gods,” plural.

Chaos War: Thor is somewhat of a first for both creators. DeMatteis is a comic book veteran who’s worked on many iconic characters in his career, but he's now getting a real crack at Thor, a character he hasn't really written other than brief appearances in books like 1982's Avengers Annual #11. After years of drawing Star Wars comics for Dark Horse, this is another Marvel project from Iron Man: Kiss and Kill artist Brian Ching, and his first superhero "event book."

Newsarama spoke with both, and series editor Mark Paniccia, to discuss Thor’s place in the Chaos War, and what makes Glory such a uniquely formidable threat.

Newsarama: You've written a lot of Marvel characters in your career — Spider-Man, Silver Surfer, Daredevil, The Defenders — but you haven't written much Thor. What drew you to this series? There’s a letter online that you got published in an issue of Thor from 1970, so I'm guessing you're a fan.

J.M. DeMatteis: I'm a massive fan of the classic Lee-Kirby Thor material. There was a point, back in the ‘60s, when it was the best comic book on the stands: Greek gods, Colonizers from Rigel, the High Evolutionary, Ego the Living Planet. Month after month after month those guys just hit it out of the part with mind-expanding concepts and a level of cosmic melodrama the medium had never seen before.

And you're right: I've rarely written Thor — and never in any in-depth way. This is a chance to really sink my teeth into the character, to explore his psyche, his mythos, his reason for being. And I have to say that the terrific outline Greg and Fred wrote for Chaos War really drew me in. I love Big and Cosmic, the interplay between gods and men, and those guys really nailed it. And Chaos's quest to drag all of Creation back into Eternal Nothing — what the Hindus would call Mahapralaya — echoes themes I've explored in a number of stories over the years. So the whole thing seemed like a great fit.

Nrama: Mark, how’s it been working with DeMatteis on Chaos War: Thor?

Mark Paniccia: I'm really happy that we were able to get J.M. involved in this event. He's someone I always wanted to work with and this was the perfect opportunity. The story is pure DeMatteis, the kind only he can tell. He's hitting aspects of Chaos War on an amazingly human-yet-epic level with one of the Marvel Universe's biggest gods and certainly one of it's biggest players.

Nrama: Brian, first off — excellent last name. Secondly, following Iron Man: Kiss and Kill, this is further Marvel work for you after years of Star Wars comics. Are you a Thor fan?

Brian Ching: It’s been great doing all this work with Marvel, I was actually doing the Star Wars comics for nearly eight years. I loved it but it’s great to finally be doing super heroes. As a kid, I was always fascinated by the more powerful Marvel characters — Hulk, Silver Surfer, and Thor. It doesn’t get any bigger than these guys, but of the three, Thor is the only one that is actually a god. So I am ecstatic to be working on Thor.

Nrama: Given that you're still relatively new within the Marvel world, how cool is it to be working on a tie-in to a major crossover story?

Ching: It’s really exciting to be a part of something like this. Marvel is the king of this type of event story so being any part of it, no matter how big or small, is tremendous for me.

Nrama: Mark, what made Brian the right choice for this book?

Paniccia: Brian's got a great imagination and you'll know what I'm talking about if you're familiar with his science fiction work. The Glory character designs blew us away and the action sequences in this book are insane. He knows how to draw crazy hammer action!

Nrama: Speaking of Glory, what can you tell us about the villain of this series? What makes him a good adversary for Thor?

DeMatteis: What I find interesting about Glory — and why I think he's such a terrific opponent for Thor — is the fact that he's not just one god, he's the embodiment of an entire pantheon. A very dark, very nasty, very powerful pantheon. Imagine if Odin also contained every other Asgardian within him — and, on top of that, he was having a very bad day. That will give you some idea of what Glory is about.

Nrama: Given all of the lofty threats a character like Thor has faced over the years, what kind of challenge is it to make this one even more intense than what's came before?

DeMatteis: It's incredibly difficult. That said, once I came up with the idea of Glory being a pantheon-embodiment, things flowed easily from there. However powerful Thor is, taking down a being who is an amalgam of dozens, perhaps hundreds, of gods is no easy feat. Writing the confrontation between Thor and Glory that kicks off the first issue was a real treat: it's been a while since I've had a chance to write something that big.

Nrama: Will Thor have any allies joining him against Glory in these two issues?

DeMatteis: What I'm enjoying about the story is that fact that it's got both the cosmic and human elements throughout. A major part of the story is Thor's encounter with a human woman — her name is Becca — who's living an isolated life in the mountains of North Carolina. The relationship between the two forms a very intimate sub-story, one that isn't about the cosmic universe Out There: it's about the worlds inside the human heart. Big, cosmic stories like this need to be grounded in real human feelings and the Becca character allows us to do that. And, in the end, that relationship proves pivotal to the Glory aspect of the story.

Nrama: So how does Chaos War: Thor fit into the greater scope of Chaos War as a whole?

DeMatteis: Well, it literally brings it down to Earth and explores the nature of humanity and godhood, looking at this conflict — which to an average person would seem terrifying and incomprehensible — from the human perspective. It also underscores the importance of humanity in these cosmic dramas.

Nrama: What can you say about the personal involvement Thor has in Chaos War, given that characters he's closely associated with, like Hercules, are poised to be major players?

DeMatteis: This story doesn't really play into Thor's involvement with those other characters. It's very tightly focused on Thor, Becca and Glory.

Nrama: Brian, from your perspective as an artist, what kind of potential is there for cool visuals with Thor fighting in the midst of the Chaos War?

Ching: It’s everything I’d want to draw in a major battle. Gods fighting other Gods, all of it set in space with stars exploding, planets being ripped apart, black holes forming. Just complete mayhem — it’s awesome!

Eager to see DeMatteis take on THOR?

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