In 1962, the legendary creative team of Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Larry Lieber captured the imagination of super hero and mythology fans with the release of Marvel Comics’ “Journey Into Mystery” #83, a book that introduced the Norse Thunder God, Thor, into the Marvel Universe. Since then, Thor has been synonymous with epic stories and cosmic adventures, elements which remain the corner stones of the character under writer Jason Aaron and artist Esad Ribic
The story unfolding in “Thor: God of Thunder” involves three versions of the titular character: a young Thor adventuring with Viking warriors, the present day super heroic version and the old king who rules over a dark and desolate future. In the initial issues of the series, readers saw how encounters with an immensely powerful serial killer known as the God Butcher impacted each versions of the Thunder God.
Thor’s battle with the God Butcher took an interesting turn in issue #4 when the killer began utilizing time travel in his war against the gods of the Marvel Universe. We spoke with Aaron about this development and how it leads into the next “Thor: God of Thunder” arc, “Godbomb.”
CBR News: In “Thor: God of Thunder” #4-5, you introduce the element of time travel to the story of Thor’s encounters with the God Butcher, making the past, present, and future elements even more complex and intertwined. What made you want to add that particular wrinkle, and is it tough keeping everything mapped out?
Jason Aaron: It hasn’t been tough so far. The elements are really pretty simple. It might seem more complicated at times because in the book I like to jump around between the time lines quite frequently without always using captions to give you the date or time. There are other sign posts in each story that tell you which time line you’re in, though.
As to why? Well, for a couple reasons. One, I wanted to do a story that had a huge scope and scale to it. I liked the idea of following one villain over the course of thousands of years. We see the murder spree that the God Butcher is on played out over the course of three different eras, and that afforded me the opportunity to do three different versions of Thor. We get to focus on Thor in such a big way that we get to see three different versions of him in three different eras.
That speaks to the scale of the character. This is a not a story that you could do with every character in the Marvel Universe. Captain America and Wolverine are both old guys, and you can do flashbacks to different eras, but not quite to the same scope that I’m doing with Thor, where you can flash back to the Viking age or flash forward to events like the end of time.
Really, I’m just trying to lean into the fact that Thor is a god. He’s immortal and you can tell stories with him that you can’t tell with most of the other characters in the Marvel Universe. By that same definition, Thor sort of demands those big, sprawling, epic stories. That’s what I’m trying to do out of the gate in this first big story.
Present day Thor is travels to future Thor’s reality, where he discovers that it’s a time line where the God Butcher stand’s triumphant and has done so for centuries. I’m curious about future Thor’s mental stability: We saw the past Thor crack after being tortured by the God Butcher for a few days. What’s future Thor’s mind like after being tortured by the God Butcher for centuries?
That will be one of the questions we answer in issue #7, where the next arc begins. I wouldn’t say old Thor has been tortured by Gorr or been a prisoner in the same way that young Thor was. It’s more that he’s been trapped in Asgard, refused even the luxury of dying on his own terms.
We’ll see what his mindset is. When the next arc starts, his present situation will have changed. For the first time in hundreds of years, he’s free. The siege of Asgard has ended and the arrival of present day Thor in the future really sparks something in King Thor. Something that he thought may have been dead for a while.
It’s fun to write the two of them together. They bounce off each other really well once we set them on the path of going after Gorr, partly because they manage to annoy each other so thoroughly. Present day Thor looks at his older self and sees far more of his father than he would like to. He doesn’t want to believe that he’s going to grow up to be his father.
Then, of course, King Thor manages to still be annoyed by present day Thor who seems like a valiant hero. He’s the Avenger and one of the most renowned heroes in the universe, but to old King Thor, he still seems like an ignorant and clueless child. That, in part, speaks to how old King Thor is and how much he’s been through.
One of the other revelations we learned is the origin of Gorr, which goes back to a plot element that we talked about in one of our earlier “Thor” interviews; the question of what it means to be a good god. The way Gorr explains things, it sounds like the gods of his people were cruel, vicious, and ultimately failed their worshippers.
We tease Gorr’s origin in issue #5, then in issue #6 you get the full-on origin. You’ll see exactly what his relationship was to gods when he was growing up, why he’s so angry, where he got his weapon and how his murder spree began.
In the same issue, we also get a tease of what Gorr is up to in the future. Issue #6 answers all questions in relation to Gorr’s origin, but also raises more about where things are headed in the “Godbomb” arc.
One of the things I’m curious about when it comes to Gorr’s origin is whether or not he’s a reliable narrator. He’s clearly a fanatic, so can we trust the account of his past?
Gorr does not narrate issue #6, so you don’t need to worry about that. I would say, though, that you can’t rely on him to be a completely faithful narrator because he’s a broken person. He’s been killing gods for thousands of years by that point, so in some sense, he has lost sight of the person he used to be.
Plus, as we’ve seen over the course of these three eras, he’s changed as much as Thor has. That will be one of the themes of the “Godbomb” arc; the questions of whether or not the God Butcher has lost touch with who he was and where he started out and what are ramifications of that.
With the God Butcher standing sort of victorious and ascendant at the issue #5 I’m sure many readers were wondering if a being that wants to kill gods has become godlike himself.
Sure, that’s certainly one of the questions. Plus, there are some complications in that equation that will reveal themselves over the next couple of issues
From what you’ve shared so far, the “Godbomb” arc sounds like it will partly involves exploring this dark future where the God Butcher reigns supreme.
That’s a big part of it. Our first arc was about introducing these three different versions of Thor. We gave each one a focus in their own era. Then it ended with those eras crashing together. This second arc will be a full-on Thor team-up as we see our Thors brought togethe, standing side by side, hammers in hand to face a Gorr that’s far more powerful than the one they faced previously. All three Thors will be a part of the next arc.
What can you tell us about the Thors’ mission in “Godbomb?” The solicit information suggests that the Thunder Gods will be out to foil some sort of God Butcher scheme involving enslaved deities.
As we saw in issues #4 and #5, the God Butcher’s plan has changed over the years. He started out as a serial killer going around in the shadows and killing gods one at a time with his own hands. Once he met young Thor, who nearly killed him with the aid of his devoted Viking followers, Gorr realized he needed to change his methodology. There were far too many gods for him to ever track down on his own.
It was a hopeless quest, not to mention the fact that these gods have devoted followers that he could never convince he was doing the right thing by killing them. So we see how his methodology changed where he created his army of followers, the black berserkers. He also seemed to be planning something. We see him go back in time and steal the heart of an Elder God, an inbred child of the ancient gods.
So he used time travel to reach the future and now that he has this heart and his plan he just needs some space, some room to build, and a lot of slaves. So that’s where we catch up with Gorr in the future. He got all that. He’s been up to something for 900 years already in the future. Whatever he’s been building, it’s almost built, and he has legions of gods working in chains as his slaves.
So this is what everything has been building to. His grand plan to kill every god in the universe is about to come to fruition.
Will any of those enslaved gods play a role in this story?
Most definitely. I will say that there’s at least one familiar face who we’ll see a bit of in issue #6. Their appearance will probably be a bit surprising. Then there are several new characters that we’ll meet that will all play big roles in the book going forward.
We’ll also catch up with some of the other new characters that we introduced, like the Librarian from the Halls of the All-Knowing and Shadrack, the Mad God. They play parts in this story as well, even though they’re back in the present day. We’ll catch up with them in issue #7. They have a piece of the puzzle to the mystery of the Godbomb and ultimately what’s going on in this arc
This arc sounds very god-centric. Will any mortals play a role?
There will be some other players that pop up that I don’t want to say too much about, but we’ll get a tease of them as well in issue #6. And yes, there are a few other mortals who will have a say in things.
They aren’t necessarily mortals, and you may not be able to talk about them, but the solicits made reference to some characters called the “Girls of Thunder.”
They’re among the slave gods on Gorr’s world. I don’t want to say too much beyond that and their name, the Girls of Thunder.
Artist Esad Ribic is continuing his run on “Thor: God of Thunder” with the Gorr origin issue and the “Godbomb” arc. Are there any elements that you can tell he especially enjoys drawing?
I think it’s a continuation of the same stuff Esad has been doing on the book, which I think almost everybody agrees has been amazing. In my mind he and Ive Svorcina, his colorist, have really defined the look of this character for the 21st century and set the bar for everything to come.
I’ve just been blown away by the stuff Esad has done; from the settings he’s designed to the way he draws the three different versions of Thor. All of that will continue on. We’ll see more of Asgard in the future. We’ll see the flying viking ships. We’ll see the biggest and most epic fight scenes in the book so far as we get to see all three of our Thors really unleashed upon Gorr, who’s transcendent and exponentially more powerful than the villain we’ve seen previously.
There’s a Frazetta and “Heavy Metal” the magazine feel to the book, which I love. It feels like it should be part fantasy story and part Molly Hatchet album cover in addition to being a super hero book. It’s a mixture of all that stuff. There’a a lot of sci-fi elements too, in terms of Esad’s design sense. We’ll be seeing a lot more of that in the look he gives future Asgard.
I love that all that stuff gets melded together. Plus, we’ve got the three different eras. We’ve got young Thor in the Viking Age surrounded by Vikings and long ships. Then we’ve got present day Thor, the Avenger, on this grand, cosmic quest. And then King Thor in the far future in this dark, broken, post-apocalyptic version of Asgard. The fact that Esad can draw all of that and pull it off so expertly is kind of amazing. It’s a testament to how talented and versatile he is.
We’ve talked about the immediate future of “Thor: God of Thunder,” so let’s take a quick look farther down the road. Can you talk at all about your plans for this book later on, when there’s going to be some extra attention paid to the character thanks to the release of “Thor 2: The Dark World?”
The “Godbomb” arc wraps up in issue #11, so the whole story will wind up being two five-issue arcs and one stand-alone issue in the middle. After that, we follow up eleven issues of flying through space and going into the future with Thor coming back to Earth, to Midgard. I have a lot of plans for what that involves. I think it will be a Thor on Midgard story that we haven’t really seen before. It will definitely explore the idea of Thor’s relationship to Earth as a god and what that means.
Then, beyond that, yeah — I may have heard that there’s a movie coming out. I would expect to see Thor brought back to the Marvel U in a big way and perhaps even facing a villain that has some ties to the film. I think that would be a safe bet.
I’m loving this book. I’m still excited to be a part of it. I’m just as excited as I was at that first Marvel NOW! retreat when I got to pitch it. I’m excited to be knee-deep in the God Butcher story, and I’m also now at a point where I’m digging into the stuff that comes after. I’m happy to put down roots on this character and this book and I hope to be here for quite awhile.
Rick [Remender] is doing a lot of stuff with Thor in [“Uncanny Avengers”]. He’s playing off some of the stuff I set up. You’ll see the Thor of the Viking Age popping up in “Uncanny Avengers,” and you’ll see the axe that Thor wields playing a huge role in that book. That kind of stuff is always cool. Rick and I talk a lot. We’re good friends and we’ve bounced stuff back and forth before. He used the Deathlok from my Wolverine book during his run on “Uncanny X-Force,” and I used the Apocalypse from his “Uncanny X-Force” run in “Wolverine & the X-Men.” This kind of continues with the back and forth we already had in the X-Universe. Now it’s just played out in the Avengers Universe.
I couldn’t be happier with the response the series has gotten. I’m especially happy when I hear from people who say they aren’t usual Thor readers, but they’re digging the book and when I hear from the long time fans who are loving it. So I’m very grateful for everybody who been reading it.