Marvel Comics’ Asgardian God of Thunder, Thor, is one of Earth’s staunchest defenders, frequently defending Midgard against a variety of fearsome foes who seek to destroy and conquer the planet. What happens when he sets his sights on an adversary with unlimited resources that makes billions of dollars from poisoning the Earth and exploiting its resources? And would there ever be a situation so dire Thor would be forced to consider whether or not he had to give up on Earth?
Writer Jason Aaron and artist Esad Ribic will put those questions front and center in “The Last Days of Midgard,” the latest arc of “Thor: God of Thunder,” which pits the present day Thor against the combined might of the Roxxon Corporation and follows the future King Thor’s quest to save a desiccated and dying Earth from being consumed by Galactus. CBR News spoke with Aaron about the arc, which began earlier this month in “Thor: God of Thunder” #19.NOW!
CBR News: Jason, I know one of the ideas you’ve been exploring in “Thor: God of Thunder” is the question of what makes a good god? Are we seeing the next component of that in “The Last Days of Midgard” with the present day Thor becoming concerned about ecological matters on Earth?
Jason Aaron: Yes, there are two fights going on in this arc. Thor is fighting in two different time periods, but both fights are really about his struggle to save the Earth. We’ve seen Thor fight to save the Earth many times before and in many different ways, but never quite like this. We’ve never seen him fight an enemy like Roxxon alongside an ally like Roz Solomon. I was really intrigued by the idea of Thor teaming up with an environmentalist to fight who she sees as the planet’s enemies.
So some of the big questions of this arc will be is stewardship of the Earth up to man or gods? And what happens when gods intervene in the way humans use the Earth? What kinds of consequences might result?
[Laughs] Sure, those are lofty questions. Part of that is what I think this series as a whole continues to explore. What is the relationship between gods and man? That’s a question the book will continue to wrestle with even beyond this story.
Opposing Thor’s present day quest are Dario Agger and the newly independent Roxxon corporation. What made you want to bring Roxxon back as a Thor villain?
It really just started out as the idea of Thor going up against an evil super corporation, which was something I didn’t think we had seen before in the pages of his book.
I like mixing things up. The first big Thor story I did had Thor fighting this guy who’s basically a serial killer of gods who evolves and becomes a dark god himself. Then the second story was about bringing in Malekith, the Dark Elf murderer who’s very much of the high fantasy genre.
So I really like shifting gears and doing something that was in every way an Earth story, a Midgard story, and what better Earth bound villain than to have Thor butt heads with the CEO of the world’s most powerful corporation?
In “Thor: God of Thunder” #19. NOW you hinted that there was something otherworldly about that CEO. Is there a mystery surrounding Dario Agger that we’ll learn more about?
Yes. His nickname is The Minotaur, and it’s safe to say that he got that for a very good reason. So there is a story there in terms of his origins that we’ll hint at a little bit before we dive in fully.
Initially though, one of the fun things about watching Thor butt heads with Roxxon is they’re not a villain he can walk up to and punch in the face. This is not Doctor Doom or the Absorbing Man. They’re a very different sort of threat. So in the next couple of issues we’ll see Thor get pushed to the point where he’s really ready to punch somebody in the face, but he can’t. He runs up against a wall in a way that he never has before.
So he’s engaged in a type of warfare that he’s not an expert in?
Exactly. He’s got some ideas as we see from issue #19. We’ll see Thor and Roz Solomon in the next issue having coffee at Bill’s Diner in Broxton where Thor will share some ideas on how they can fight back against Roxxon and companies like them. They do fight back, but you can expect, especially given how Roxxon was embarrassed by Thor’s little stunt with the ice in issue #19, that they’re making some plans of their own.
As you mentioned, assisting Thor in his battle against Roxxon is agent Roz Solomon of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s environmental arm. Is your “Thor” run the first time we’ve seen this division of S.H.I.E.L.D.?
Yeah, I believe so. We first saw Roz back in issue #12, which showed Thor bouncing around and interacting with different folks on Earth. I just liked the idea of a S.H.I.E.L.D. cadet posting a video on YouTube and inviting Thor to be her date to the Cadet’s Ball. We’ve seen that a lot of times with soldiers inviting celebrities like Justin Bieber or Angelina Jolie to be their date to the Cadet’s Ball.
So I started with that and I didn’t know if there would be anything beyond that one scene. Then as I started writing her I had the idea of making her an environmentalist. I knew she was a character we could bring back and who could really have some legs.
The introduction of Roz’s division raises some questions that I imagine we’ll find out more about as the story goes on, but what kinds of powers and limitations does S.H.I.E.L.D’s environmental division have?
Roz can’t just run around and arrest anyone that she wants. That’s part of the problem with her coming after Roxxon. She’s struggled to find proof. In her heart she knows what Roxxon is up to, but she hasn’t been able to prove it. She hasn’t been able to convict them in a court of law.
â€¨So she is limited in what she can do, but I liked the idea of updating the image of the original old school Nick Fury, the cold war spy that battled communists and leftover Nazi groups from World War II. I wanted to take that same sort of character and smack him down into the present day. So Roz still has the flying car. She carries a gun and wears a uniform, but she’s fighting a very different sort of enemy.
The other question about Roz is her dynamic with Thor. How would you describe the current dynamic between the two characters? How do you think they view each other?
It’s just flirtatious right now. They’ve had one dance together and they’ve worked together, but they’ve never been on a date. Everybody likes to joke with Roz that she’s Thor’s girlfriend, but I didn’t want to introduce her and have them instantly fall in love.
That will be an ongoing process. We’ll see if they do or don’t. A lot of it is just about building her up as a character that can stand on her own. I didn’t want to bring her in and just have her be Thor’s girlfriend.
Let’s move into the portions of “The Last Days of Midgard” that take place in the future. You already touched on this a little bit, but the future story also seems to go back to the idea of being a good god because it touches upon a god’s hope for a sick and dying world to get better. Is that accurate?
Yeah, that was the other fun aspect of this story; putting King Thor in a situation where he has to face off against Galactus, one of the greatest enemies he can imagine, over a world that’s dead. It’s been dead for many years. He’s been trying to regrow and can’t.
So his granddaughters ask him, “Why would you do this? What are you fighting for? If you’re fighting against Galactus over the Earth you’re fighting for nothing more than a memory.” So he’s put in a position where he’s forced to ask himself, “Is it time to let go of the Earth?” For Thor that’s admitting failure. It’s basically saying that there’s no hope. The Earth is done, and he failed it.
King Thor didn’t really have any hope for thousands of years, so Hope is an emotion he’s just getting reacquainted with. But what about stubbornness? It seems like that would be something that was ingrained in his character over his long life. That also raises the question for King Thor of where the line is between stubbornness and hope, doesn’t it?
[Laughs] That’s a good question. This is a different version of King Thor from the one we first met back in our initial story arc. That was a guy who really was just sitting around waiting to die, and was denied even that by the God Butcher. He couldn’t even die when he wanted to.
So this is a guy who’s faced down that demon and reinvigorated Asgard. Asgard is full of gods again. So he’s in a very different place, but even through all of that I think Thor wanting to die is still different than him willing to let the Earth die. I think no matter how low he might get for him to turn his back on the Earth, to let it go and slip away, is a very huge moment. This is a huge decision for him.
As you mentioned, if King Thor chooses to fight for the Earth he will have to do battle with Galactus. How evenly matched are these characters? Is this a David vs. Goliath style battle?
King Thor is still the All-Father. He’s still a pretty powerful guy, but this will certainly be the fight of his life because Galactus is determined too. He’s travelled the cosmos for untold eons. He’s feasted on planet after planet, but only one world in all the heavens has managed to thwart him again and again. That was Earth.
Now Galactus has shown up looking to finally get that last laugh. Finally, after being thwarted so many times, he shows up and is determined to put the Earth to rest. He believes it’s his destiny to do this after so much frustration, and even though the Earth is lifeless he still doesn’t care. It’s still going to be the sweetest meal because it’s been so long coming.
Will King Thor’s future battle against Galactus and present day Thor’s battle against Roxxon be balanced out for the remainder of this arc? Or will we see more of one story than the other?
It will be pretty much half and half from issue to issue. The stories are very separate and just connected thematically. We certainly don’t want to shortchange either one though. So with the present day story we brought in Roxxon, introduced its new CEO, and there are other elements that will start to pop up along the way. And by the end, the present day story will have huge ramifications for Thor’s status quo in the Marvel Universe. At the same time I don’t want to shortchange seeing Esad Ribic draw King Thor versus Old Galactus. So you’ll get your fair share of both stories.
I believe you’d said that with your “Thor: God of Thunder” run you’re telling one large story. Will a lot of what we see with the past, present and future Thors impact your larger narrative going forward?
Yes, there are overarching stories I’m trying to tell with all three versions of Thor. So the young Thor stories are all building toward a point. It’s the same with the present day and King Thor.
We’ll get the young Thor and King Thor stories in smaller doses. We’ll see them in stand-alones from time to time or maybe in stories like this that are split, but those are still their own tales. All three versions have their own character arc that they’re in the midst of.
Let’s start to wrap up by talking about the beautiful art being done not just by Esad Ribic, but his colorist, Ive Svorcina. What can we expect from them in upcoming issues? Is “The Last Days of Midgard” a story where they’ll show off the wonder and dangers of Earth?
If you read the first two arcs on the book, those first 11 issues, then you saw what Esad and Ive are capable of. I knew Esad was coming back for this story and I wanted to make sure I gave him lots of cool stuff to draw.
So in the present day in the first issue we’ve got flying cars, giant whale hunting submarines, and Roxxon’s floating island. Plus Roxxon’s got corporate soldiers and helicopters. Then in the future you get King Thor fighting old Galactus. [Laughs] You don’t need to know much more about that.
That was another reason why I wanted to combine these two stories into one. Esad really knocked it out of the park in our first God Butcher epic. So in our follow up to that I wanted to make sure he had lots of cool stuff on his table.
I was really struck by the color palette Ive used in issue #19.NOW. The blues were especially striking.
Esad and Ive work pretty closely together. I think they live pretty close to each other, too. So they’re really tight and obviously work really well and they put a lot of thought into that. In their first God Butcher stories you saw how they broke down the color palettes for the three different time lines by going with different seasons of the year for the three different Thors. Then in issue #19 I think they were really trying to highlight just how blue the planet was in the present day compared to how dry, dusty and dead it looked for those last few pages in the future.
Finally, can you offer up any hints or teases about your plans for “Thor: God of Thunder” following “The Last Days of Midgard?” Since you’re writing “Original Sin” is there a chance that we might see “Thor” tie into that story line?
Yes, there’s certainly a chance of that. Plus, like I mentioned, the end of “The Last Days of Midgard” really changes Thor’s status quo and what happens after that will shake what he thinks he knows about his world even more than that.
You’ll also see young Thor again before too long. There’s a young Thor story coming up where these flashbacks have a big impact on what’s going on in the present day. So we’ll cross the streams a little bit again.
Beyond that, there’s not much more that I can say besides I’m still loving this book just as much as I was when we started issue #1. I hope to be on it for a good long while. At the end of the Malekith arc you got your first glimpse of where things are headed and what we’ve got going on. War seems to be on the horizon. So we’ll continue to march toward that.
“Thor: God of Thunder” #20 is on sale March 19.