Matt Fraction and Kieron Gillen have a history of working together, teaming up for four issues of Uncanny X-Men. With Fraction writing the God of Thunder in The Mighty Thor and Gillen telling the tale of Kid Loki in Journey Into Mystery, it seemed inevitable that their Asgardians paths would eventually cross.
Well, get ready for some serious path-crossing. As announced Sunday afternoon during Mavel’s “Next Big Thing” panel at the C2E2 convention in Chicago, Fraction and Gillen are collaborating on “Everything Burns,” a seven-part crossover (nine chapters in total, counting two epilogue issues) between The Mighty Thor and Journey Into Mystery, depicting all-out war in the nine realms.
Fraction and Gillen are joined by artists Alan Davis (Clandestine, Captain America) and Carmine Di Giandomenico (Magneto: Testament, All-Winners Squad) for the story, which starts in August’s The Mighty Thor #18 and Journey Into Mystery #642.
Running through September (The Mighty Thor #19, Journey Into Mystery #643, The Mighty Thor #20, Journey Into Mystery #644) and closing in October with The Mighty Thor #21 and two epilogue issues (Journey Into Mystery #645, The Mighty Thor #22), the story aims, as Gillen puts it, to be a capital-E “Epic.” Newsarama has the first interview with Fraction and Gillen on “Everything Burns,” in which they discuss the “Ragnarok-level story,” and the nature of their “Richards/Doom”-esque relationship. (We’re not sure who’s who.)
Newsarama: Matt, Kieron — "Everything Burns" sees the two of you working closely together once again. How has your working process changed since the last time you collaborated? (If… at all?)
Kieron Gillen: It's been different — but this is the biggest collaboration between Matt and me. When we created the Five Lights, we worked on the characters together and then both went off to do our own thing with them. When we did the "Quarantine" arc together on Uncanny, I was joining Matt in the second issue of an arc. So he was — no pun intended — the Architect, and I was the builder and engineer, going off to complete the design. This is something much closer.
This is us sitting down and working on an Epic, step by step, beat by beat, lunacy for lunacy.The Mighty Thor
#18 cover.So, we're doing very long rambling Skype calls. Working on a shared Google Doc together and adding lines to it just to make the other person laugh. Throwing a dozen ideas at each other, and choosing the one which is most true and powerful. It's basically us having two epic story concepts and realizing they'd work particularly well together. The themes of our two books have always overlapped considerably, and this is where we press these fissile elements together and let everyone see the explosion.
Matt Fraction: It's still a very mushy, open, free-flowing idea of exchange. On top of the professional joys of constantly trying to one-up my favorite writer in comics. And it's a chance to further our subtextual Richards/Doom relationship. So it's the same, but moreso. This collaboration goes to 11.
Nrama: Also, what's the division of labor like for the story? Is it pretty much Matt writes Thor and Kieron writes JIM, or is it more of a co-authorship than that?
Gillen: All the plotting has been the pair of us, but basically what you say is right. Matt's doing the majority of the scripting on the Thor issues and I'm doing the majority on the Journey Into Mystery ones. It is a little more complicated than that though — each issue is having an epilogue with big reveal leading to the next part of the crossover, and we're reversing them. So Matt will write the epilogues in JIM and I'm writing the epilogues in Thor. It should be a neat effect.
And because it's such an important story for both books, we're getting our hands dirty in bits and pieces elsewhere. It's really as co-written as anything I've ever done.
Fraction: I very much drafted onto the Journey Into Mystery story as… well, the nature of the thing demands it. Mighty Thor has been leading to a point where it all made sense for our cars to crash together, as it were, but again — the fires start in Journey. And after KG's had to dance to Thor's weird stories it was the least I could do to follow his story this time.
Nrama: Mighty Thor and Journey Into Mystery are obviously closely related by nature, but have been mostly separate for a while. How long has this crossover been brewing?
Fraction: Since the start of things.The Mighty Thor
#18 cover by
Alan Davis.Gillen: Remember the interviews I did before the first issue of Journey Into Mystery dropped, when I said that we hoped that our stories would dovetail together at some point and do something really big that'd leave everyone reeling?
This is it.
Nrama: And whoa! You guys are working with some very cool artists on this, Alan Davis and Carmine Di Giandomenico. How energized are you by having those two on board?
Gillen: It's the third time I've worked with Carmine now — first with a tiny eight-page thing about Namor that was one of my very first stories for Marvel and more recently with the "Exiled" New Mutants/JIM crossover. And honestly, he's pulled off all manner of nightmarishly difficult stuff along the way. If I had to choose what I like most about him, I'd have to go for his ability to find the strange inside fantasy tropes. We've all seen Hell in comics, to a level that its effect may be blunted... but Carmine manages to make something that's simultaneously classic and hallucinogenically novel. And there is a lot of the strange — and the new — in the crossover.
Fraction: It's completely amazing. Game cannot be upped enough.
Nrama: Getting more to the story itself — it looks like (from as much as I can tell from a few sentences describing a nine-part story) that at its core, "Everything Burns" is centered on Thor and Loki. How key is their relationship to the story?
Fraction: It is the bloody burning beating heart of it all.
Gillen: It's core. While it is — to use the phrase again — an Epic, the relationship between the two brothers is really what it all turns on. Whether the nine realms stands or burns rely on their relationship. I think the story should say something fundamental about the pair of them.
Nrama: This also looks to be a very big story — nine issues total (one for each realm?), counting epilogues. For as best as you can assess, how would you describe the scale of this story? Are any past Thor epics influencing the approach (if not the content)?
Gillen: Big. It stretches the whole nine realms. It threatens every pantheon and planet in all creation. When we say “everything burns," we mean everything. Everything you've seen, anything you've cared about, anything at all... cinders, dust. It's big.June's Journey
#640 cover (not
part of "Everything
Burns").In terms of influences... Well, it's a story that's equally concerned with ancient history and the effect of the new. You'll see bits and pieces from marvel-history and actual myth in there, but it's not about recapitulating any of them. Ancient history never goes away, but even in myth, it doesn't mean it's just cycles. It's a Ragnarok-scale story without being another Ragnarok, if you see what I mean.
And in approach, it differs in a key way. This is a story which has explicitly got two leads, following the character of the two books. It's a war. Thor is on the front lines, in the sunlight. Loki is behind enemy lines, in the shadows.
Fraction: Big enough that we're pulling a wacky stunt like this. And I'd like to say that every single Thor epic to date has influenced the approach. This kind of thing you only get to do once I think, so you just gotta grit your teeth and swing for the goddamn fences.
Nrama: What can you say about the "old foe" that starts thing in motion? Are you allowed to divulge, or is that still under wraps? (Understandable if so, it's still months before the story even begins!)
Fraction: It is someone powerful enough to lead all of Asgardia to their DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM.
Gillen: My particular input into this is eminently guess-able, especially when you see the preview art. Loki released Surtur from Limbo in the first arc of Journey Into Mystery. There was no way that was not going to come back and bite Asgard, and Loki particularity.
Nrama: "Everything Burns" obviously looks to have a profound aspect on Asgard — is the action mainly contained to there, or does it spill out to the rest of the Marvel Universe?
Fraction: Just us. Just Journey Into Mystery and The Mighty Thor. It's about all the nine worlds.
Gillen: It threatens the whole Marvel Universe. The World Tree, the highway of the nine-realms, being in Broxton naturally brings it all close to home. And, if we're talking about the mythologic side specifically, followers of JIM will know I've been doing some soft games with the politics of the pantheons. For them, this is enormous.
Nrama: Kieron, you've stated in the past that you see your Journey Into Mystery story as a finite run, with a definite ending planned — 30 issues, I think, and you'll be at about 23 by the end of "Everything Burns." Not to get way too ahead of ourselves, but does this story lead into JIM's climax?
Gillen: I'm keeping my cards close here. Let's just say that nothing will be the same for Loki after "Everything Burns."
Nrama: Matt, you've been going in an interesting direction recently with the role of Donald Blake in Mighty Thor — how important is that element to "Everything Burns"?
Fraction: His story gets told in "Marelock," the prior story, starting in issue #13.Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!