Thor Odinson has walked a dark road since finding himself unworthy of wielding his mystical hammer Mjolnir. That path recently led him away from his home of Asgardia and out into the cosmos of the Marvel Universe in pursuit of Mjolnir’s interdimensional counterpart from the now-destroyed Ultimate Universe, which arrived in the MU in the aftermath of 2015’s “Secret Wars.”
During his absence, an eldritch shadow has fallen across the Ten Realms of Asgard in the form of the Dark Council, a sinister Cabal made up of his old adversaries and led by the Machiavellian Dark Elf, Malekith the Accursed. Their machinations have lit the Ten Realms ablaze with war, and so far its defenders like Jane Foster, the current Thor, have been outwitted and outfought at almost every turn.
Now that the “Unworthy Thor” miniseries has wrapped, they’re about to get some help; writer Jason Aaron and artist Russell Dauterman are drafting the Odinson into the action of the War of the Realms storyline running through “Mighty Thor” with the series current arc, “The Asgard/Shi’ar War.” The battle will be joined again in June’s “Mighty Thor” #20, which introduces a mysterious new Ultimate Thor and sees artist Valerio Schiti joining Dauterman for the arc.
CBR spoke with Aaron about the fallout from “Unworthy Thor,” including the reveal of the reason why the Odinson is no longer worthy of Mjolnir, how that will impact “Mighty Thor,” the X-Men character that plays a role in the final installments of the “Asgard/Shi’ar” war arc, and how the escalation of the War of the Realms leads to the new Ultimate Thor’s introduction.
CBR: “The Unworthy Thor” series has wrapped, and we now know what the Unseen whispered in the Odinson’s ear to make him unable to wield Mjolnir back in 2014’s “Original Sin” event; the fact that no gods are worthy. That brings to mind a question you were investigating back in your “Thor: God of Thunder” series — “What makes a good god?” When all is said and done, however many years from now, will that be one of the defining questions of your Thor run?
Jason Aaron: Absolutely. I think it’s been pretty clear right from the get go that was at the heart of the first big “God Butcher” story, and it’s never really gone away. It may have retreated into the background a little bit, but it’s always been part of the driving narrative. I think, now, that’s even more obvious than ever.
The question still hasn’t been answered, either. We still don’t know if the Odinson is worthy again. Is he worthy? And what makes a god worthy? What makes Jane Foster worthy? Those aren’t necessarily questions that need absolute definitive answers in some sense, but they are questions that will continue to be a part of everything I do with those characters.
Another interesting twist in the final issue of “Unworthy Thor” was the fact that Hela and Thanos appeared to have joined forces. What inspired this alliance? Is it something you’ll be following more of in your book?
You’ll certainly see me doing more with that. I loved writing Thanos in the “Thanos Rising” miniseries. In a very dark and twisted way, it’s one of the most fun things I’ve done at Marvel. It’s also one of the darkest things I’ve ever done.
I’ve always wanted to write Thanos again. I like the idea of bringing him into Thor’s world. It seemed like the easiest way to do it was his fascination with death, which has always been a big part of the character. It was a big part of what I did in “Thanos Rising,” too.
I really liked the idea of hooking up him and Hela. She’s in a predicament of her own. In the “Angela” series, we saw how she lost control of the realm of the dead. She’s trying to regain her throne, and what better way to go about that than by hooking up with Thanos? That only complicates things as the War of the Realms continues to rage and draw in one realm after another.
There’s all these alliances being formed all over — mostly with Malekith. You either align with Malekith’s forces, or you can expect to be invaded and conquered. Hela is trying to make a little deal of her own.
With “Unworthy Thor” wrapped, will the Odinson become a regular player in the big War of the Realms storyline going on in “Mighty Thor?”
Yes, we’ll see him cross paths with Jane Foster again by the end of the current “Asgard/Sh’iar War arc. He then very much becomes a big part of that book and her story again.
Then, in the arc after that, we’ll have two Thors — and add a third one into the mix! We get a brand new Thor, which we seeded at the end of “Unworthy Thor.” The Odinson didn’t even try to pick up the hammer of Ultimate Thor, but someone else comes along and does. They’re transformed by it into a very different kind of Thor, so by the time we get all these Thors together, we’ll have three very different versions of the character.
What’s it like dropping the Odinson back into the very changed environment of Asgardia? It seems like there would be a lot of characters and events to bounce him off of.
Right. He’s been gone for quite a while, so a lot has changed. He’s just finding out what happened to his mother who was literally stabbed in the back by Loki and poisoned. She’s still locked up inside Odin’s castle with Odin. Nobody has seen either one of them in quite a while.
Meanwhile, the War of the Realms has continued to rage and Cul sits on the Throne of Asgard. Then of course there’s the fact that the Odinson still doesn’t know who this mysterious woman is that’s running around with his hammer. So there’s a lot for him to grapple and deal with when he comes back.
Will Beta Ray Bill and the helldog Thori be following the Odinson from “Unworthy Thor” to “Mighty Thor?”
Bill returns to the cosmos and goes back to his own adventures. We won’t see him right away. I’d love to bring him back further down the line, but Thori definitely comes along. That’s why I wanted to reintroduce him in the pages of “Unworthy Thor.”
Right now, the Odinson is a different sort of character. He’s still a darker, angrier version of Thor, so I like the idea of him having this murderous hellhound as his pet.
The Odinson isn’t the only character you’re returning to in the pages of “Mighty Thor.” In #18, a new player enters the “Asgard/Shi’ar War” arc in the form of Quentin Quire, who you wrote during your run on “Wolverine & the X-Men.” What made you want to bring him into this story? And what’s it like returning to the character?
He’s one of those pieces that really fit. With this story, I wanted to pull together many different elements from Asgard and the world of the Shi’ar as I possibly could. We couldn’t fit the Starjammers in there; I really wanted to do that, and Russell [Dauterman] did too, but that was kind of one element too many.
Gladiator and his son Kid Gladiator have big parts of the story, though, and as we’ll see by the end of the arc, the Phoenix becomes a part of it. Given all of that, it made sense for Quentin Quire to pop up. I really liked the idea of the Jane Foster Thor and Quentin Quire together. They make an interesting pair.
It was a blast to go back to Quentin. I haven’t written him since my last issue of “Wolverine &the X-Men,” and I love that character. He still holds a fond place in my heart, and it was fun to thrown him in the mix of this. Not just for the heck of it, though. He’s going to play a big role in the story.
What else can you tell us about bringing the “Asgard/Shi’ar” arc to close? How big is the action going to get?
Pretty big. We’ve got this war raging in space with Shi’ar spaceships fighting Asgardian viking ships and loads of characters. So everything kind of comes crashing down together with the Shi’ar and their mad gods on one side and all these Asgardian Gods on the other. Then of course, as I said, into that we add the element of the Phoenix.
This has been another arc where you’ve asked a lot of Dauterman, and he’s really delivered. Plus, it seems like he’s a pretty fast artist, since he’s been able to do most of the big arcs of this series.
Yeah, Russell has been killing it. We definitely try to work the schedule however we need to in order to make sure he’s able to do all the biggest stories and all the biggest moments. That will continue to be the case through these next couple of arcs.
I say this every arc, and I really do mean it, but I think Russell just keeps getting better and better. The more stuff I throw at him the more characters he has to design, the bigger, crazier scenes he has to draw. He just continues to get better, stronger, more amazing, and more inventive.
I think Russell has added a lot to Thor in terms of his designs for the various characters and especially the locations. A lot of what I’ve been doing in my work on Thor is fleshing out his setting and all the different realms. Russell has been a huge part of that.
He goes a long way towards building these worlds and fleshing out the people and cultures of those different locations. You’re seeing that again in space in this arc. You’ll see more of that in the next arc as we go to Muspelheim for the first time.
I’m the biggest fan in the world of Russell Dauterman and what he’s done on this book.
In June, you, Russell, and Valerio Schiti kick of a new arc that you alluded to earlier, which will introduce a new Ultimate, or “War Thor.” What else can you tell us about this character and the story? Will we know the identity of this newest Thor by the end of the arc?
That’s initially a mystery, but it’s not one I’m going to stretch out for 12 issues again. It’s not that sort of story. I don’t want to say too much other than this an indeed a version of Thor that’s different from Jane and the Odinson. It’s a character whose origins are tied into the War of the Realms.
Every arc that we do with this war is very much an escalation, and this is a major escalation in terms of that war. There are still multiple realms that haven’t been touched by the conflict. The war continues to spread though and that spread is accelerating. As Malekith’s power grows you either join his side or you fall before his army.
We’ll see multiple realms effected by this over the course of this arc, and out of the growing horrors of this war emerges this new Thor who wields a hammer that we’ve never really seen in action in this universe. There’s still a lot of questions about the hammer in terms of the effect it can have on someone and what it can do. This is a Thor that has a lot of questions to answer.
Given what you’ve done with the Marvel Universe’s Mjolnir and its semi-sentience, I’m wondering if the Ultimate Universe version of the hammer has a similar sense of consciousness. Is that something you’ll address as this arc unfolds?
That’s a good question, and it will be interesting to see the Ultimate Thor’s hammer come into contact with Jane’s Mjolnir for the first time. There’s a lot of fun stuff in this arc. That was kind of always the plan.
I like the swerve of setting you up to think, “This is the moment where the Odinson becomes worthy again and picks up the hammer of Ultimate Thor.” He wouldn’t do that though. That’s not his hammer. If he’s going to be worthy he’s going to be worthy the way he’s always been worthy.
So he continues on the path that he’s been on for the last few years now; really since I first took over the book about four years ago. It’s a dark path and it’s only going to get darker. This Ultimate Thor arc is really the beginning of that; of things taking a very dark turn for all of our Thors.