The Marvel Universe is a place where gods fight alongside and against men, where the modern and mythic collide on a regular basis, often with explosive results. This constant collision is most apparent is Oklahoma, where floating in the skies above Broxton is a metropolis home to gods and a variety of other mythical beings and creatures. That city is Asgardia, and its divine inhabitants are the Asgardian pantheon of gods.
The home of the gods’ proximity to our planet means many of its inhabitants are drawn into Earthbound conflicts. Indeed, its most famous citizen, the thunder god Thor, is one of the planets most powerful defenders, on his own and as a founding member of the Avengers. In the recently revived series “Journey into Mystery,” Thor’s brother, the teenage god of mischief Loki, protects Earth and the surrounding mythical realms in his own morally mucky way.
This October, Loki’s adventures in “Journey Into Mystery” come to an end along with writer Kieron Gillen’s run on the title. That doesn’t mean the modern and mythical series is coming to an end, however. With November’s issue #646, the role of series protagonist shifts to the Asgardian warrior goddess Sif as writer Kathryn Immonen and artist Valerio Schiti begin their run on the series. We spoke with Immonen about her plans for the book.
CBR News: Kathryn, you’re in an interesting position with “Journey Into Mystery” in that you’re basically starting a new story with a new protagonist while maintaining the book’s title and numbering. I imagine your first story will be new reader-friendly, but will there be any elements of the story that branch out from Kieron Gillen’s “JIM” run?
Kathryn Immonen: I think, or I’d hope, that the goal with any issue at any point is always to be new reader-friendly, but at the same time, the result should never be to let readers who are already on board just twist in the wind (which is not precisely the right idiom for the situation). I really, really loved Kieron’s run. It was such a beautiful blending of gorgeous tiny moments with some very big ideas. So, for me, the approach is always to look at what’s been done before, find the threads that run through it, especially the ones that resonate with you, and then tug on them and see what they might be attached to. Sometimes you have to pull pretty hard, but that was not the case here
Gillen’s run is currently coming to a close in “Everything Burns,” a six-part crossover with Matt Fraction’s final “Mighty Thor” issues. So far this story has dealt with massive upheaval in Asgardia and a potential second civil war between the Aesir and Vanir gods that make up the Asgardian pantheon. Will the aftermath of “Everything Burns” inform your initial “Journey Into Mystery” stories at all?
Yeah, absolutely. I’m not interested in throwing the baby out with the bathwater (there’s another one — I sense a theme). The journey devised for Sif grows out of those events, but the decisions she makes that set the story in motion are fundamentally tied to central questions specific to her character. So again, if you’ve been reading, it should layer up nicely for you. If you’re jumping on because it’s Sif, you’ll get all the info you need in the issue.
As you mentioned, when your run begins you’ll be shifting the spotlight from Loki and onto Sif, the book’s new protagonist. Which of her qualities are you most interested in exploring?
For any character, you need to ask the question, “What do they want?” For Sif, it really does seem to boil down to her wanting to be a better warrior, but I think she’s also got some seriously unplumbed depths. She’s never really had to be in charge of anyone but herself. I thought it would be nice to test her leadership qualities with some guys who do nothing but defeat her expectations.
What’s driving Sif’s desire to become a better warrior?
It really just comes from her wanting to be of the best possible service to Asgardia and to her people. But then there’s the rather serious problem of finding a place to put that energy.â€¨
How does Sif’s quest to be a better warrior initially unfold?
Sif goes looking for an ancient Berzerker spell, but it quickly becomes unclear what she has actually been given. The result is that she becomes embroiled with one of Asgardia’s dirty little secrets. It’s about the stories we tell, the stories we bury and how much truth there is in the stories we tell about ourselves. And, as well, the stories we tell children and what they’re supposed to learn from them. Also, big swords and bigger monsters.
Can you hint, tease, or talk about any of the supporting characters and adversaries Sif meets in her initial adventures?
We’re exploring some, maybe, unexpected relationships for Sif — with Hildegunde, for instance. And also, fleshing out her relationship with her Brother Heimdall, which seems to consist, currently, of very little. I’m falling head over heels with the crew of killers she hooks up with, and beyond that, monsters.
Going forward, what types of stories are you interested in telling? Will JitM primarily be a book that explores Norse legends and mythology, or are you interested in seeing Sif interact with some of the Marvel Universe’s other mythic cultures and pantheons like, say, the Olympians?
At this point, I’d say we’ll get there when we get there. I don’t think you ever really want to have Asgardia shift away from Midgard for very long. I’m not particularly interested in the big cosmic battles. We talk about these characters having these massive powers and being, in every way, larger than life, but you need the contrast in order for that to be true
Your stories will be depicted by Italian artist Valerio Schiti. What do you feel he brings to the book as an artist?
I got lucky. Yet Again. Which means he’ll up and leave me, like everyone else. Valerio’s got great story telling and fantastic design skills, whether it’s costumes or buildings or creatures. It’s such a pleasure to write for him. I want it to be something that he’s going to enjoy drawing. I think even a cursory glance at his portfolio reveals his predilections, and they are a perfect match for this title.
Finally, when Kieron Gillen began his run on “Journey Into Mystery,” he told me that his story with Loki had a beginning, middle and an end. Is that the case with your run as well, or are you keeping things more open ended?
No, I know where we’re going with this particular arc, but the goal is always, I think, to enrich the characters so that they can go forward and have even more exciting adventures.
Things will get sliced in half and kicked in the face in this book. Buy it.