Acclaimed comic book writer Jason Aaron and his mighty beard visited the world famous CBR Yacht during Comic-Con International in San Diego. He sits down with CBR TV’s Jonah Weiland for a lengthy discussion of the many high-profile projects on his plate including the upcoming “Thor” launch featuring a new female character in the title, explains the huge reaction to the book, how long it’s been a part of his plans since launching “Thor: God of Thunder,” and his love for Thor stories by Walter Simonson, Jack Kirby and others. He then discusses what it feels like to be writing Marvel’s new “Star Wars” ongoing series, whether his role has made fellow creators jealous and how the book ties into Lucasfilm’s updated “Star Wars” canon. Lastly, Aaron talks about his creator-owned work including “Southern Bastards” at Image Comics with Jason Latour and “Men of Wrath” with Ron Garney from Marvel’s Icon imprint, the benefits of being your own boss and how fortunate he feels about being able to work on his own creations with creators whose work he loves.
On how his “Thor” run has always been building to him becoming unworthy of Mjolnir and being replaced by the new female Thor: Clearly what I’m doing with this new character is different than Beta Ray Bill, it’s different than Frog Thor, it’s different than Don Blake and all this kind of stuff. But to me it’s all part of that same evolution. If we can accept a horse face alien guy as Thor or a frog as Thor, surely we can accept a woman at this point, right? [Laughs]
[Having the character be a woman] was kind of the only idea I ever had. I knew from pretty early on that things were building to Thor becoming unworthy, I mean if you look at all the stuff I’ve done so far, 24 issues at this point, that thread is sort of running through that, and Thor questioning his worthiness. You get the idea that this is a Thor who wakes up every morning and looks at the hammer and he doesn’t know if he’s gonna be able to pick it up every day. Which I like. I like that he’s always doubting himself because he realizes there’s a bunch of really awful gods out there and they’ve done terrible things, and “Am I a good god? And what does that mean?” So that’s clearly been a theme running through everything in “God of Thunder” and that was all leading toward Thor not being able to pick up the hammer. I knew once we got to that point, well, I want somebody else to pick it up, right?
I wanted to do a Beta Ray Bill kind of story, I knew that from the get go, too. And just when I sat down to thing, “Well, who is that gonna be?” I knew one, we’ve never seen a woman carrying that hammer. We’ve seen women pick it up on occasions — an issue here, a little story there, you know, a “What If…” story — but there’s a difference between picking it up for a scene and carrying it so I wanted to see somebody carrying it for a while. And also, if you look at what I’ve done in the book, most of the supporting characters are female, like the characters around Thor. Some of them were existing characters, some of them new. We’ve introduced the Girls of Thunder, who are King Thor’s granddaughters, and Thor’s new sort-of-girlfriend, who’s a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. When you look at if it’s gonna be somebody from his world right now, it’s probably gonna be a lady. That was the only thought I ever had, and then Marvel was down with it from day one.
On whether the books have to restore the status quo as movies are released: This was something we talked about months and months ago. We realized at some point, “This is happening with a lot of characters.” We’re killing Wolverine, we’re changing Cap, we’re changing Thor, there’s a lot of changes to our major characters. “Like are we– is everybody cool with this? Did we realize there is a movie coming out?” And everybody was cool with that we’re doing and yeah, we got the thumbs up from everybody ’cause everybody realizes we’re doing this for the right reasons. These are good stories we want to tell. And I like that. I’ve never felt like we needed to just chase after the movies, and certainly, you know, “Avengers” makes a billion and a half dollars, you want to pull some of those viewers and have them pick up the comics. But I’ve always thought we should be a step ahead of the movies. I like the fact that when that movie [“Avengers: Age of Ultron”] comes out we’re gonna have a slightly different version of Cap and Thor and Iron Man in the comics.
And Tom Brevoort, he’s made bets with people on his Tumblr [about how long this will last.] When this announcement came out, I was at the retreat and we were talking about stuff for next year — past the “Avengers” movie — and when we were talking about “Thor” we were talking about the new Thor, so she’s gonna be a big part of the Marvel Universe for the foreseeable future.
On his plans for Marvel’s “Star Wars” ongoing series that takes place after “A new Hope”: What’s great about this is that this is the first new Marvel “Star Wars” in decades, right? This is the first new “Star Wars” comic book of this new canon, you know the Lucasfilm canon, they’ve kind of said all the comics and books and stuff you’ve seen before, those are “Star Wars Legends,” I think they’re calling it now. Everything from this point on is a brand new — it’s part of the same canon as the movies and everything, so we’re doing the first comic book series of that, which is awesome. And it’s the first “Star Wars” comic of next year, when the first of the new movies starts rolling out. All that stuff is — this is a pretty exciting time to be doing “Star Wars.”
As a reader coming into this, pretty much all you need to have seen is the original film. If you’ve seen that one movie you can pick this book up and jump right into it and understand it. You don’t have to have read a single “Star Wars” comic or have seen anything beyond that. Certainly if you have been reading stuff, if you’ve seen the other movies, there’ll be things that we stick in there from time to time that you’ll get. I love the fact that with this we really get to go back to the original movies. You know, where did we all become “Star Wars” fans? What got me so excited about that universe as a kid? And it was those original films. I love just being able to go back to that. That’s all I had to do research-wise, I sit around and watched a couple movies and I’m like, “All right, I’m ready to write C-3PO now.”
The first issue opens just a matter of weeks after the destruction of the Death Star. We got our whole main cast of characters — Han, Leia, Chewie, the droids and everybody. The rebels [are] trying to sort of press their advantage after scoring this big win. And you know Vader is in there as the main bad guy. It’s the “Star Wars” that we all grew up with.
On the current climate of creator-owned books and what it’s like to be your own boss: It’s clearly a good time to be doing creator-owned comics. It’s a good time to be at Image. You know there’s tons of exciting stuff coming out. I’ve been really thrilled. I did “Scalped” for what — for five, six years, however long that ran, and that was a great experience, but this does feel different in that, you know, it’s good and bad at Image. You’re your own boss but you’re also kind of your own boss so you gotta kind of control everything. So that’s exciting to be able to say like, “Well, this script needs to be three more pages than usual so, okay, we’re gonna make the book three pages longer.” To be able to do whatever you want is kind of freeing. But it is a little intimidating in that you gotta make all those decisions.
I really love the team we’ve got on [“Southern Bastards”] with Jason Latour and Sebastian Girner is our editor, and Jared Fletcher is our letterer. So it’s cool to — the other big plus with creator-owned comics is you get to work with people that you’re friends with. I work with awesome artists at Marvel but sometimes I’ll never meet those people face-to-face, I might never even have an e-mail exchange with them. With creator-owned, really that’s the most important thing to me. Before you have an idea for the book or whatever, it’s looking around saying, “I wanna work with people I know, people I’m friends with, people I can do something cool with, and then you figure out, “Well, what the hell do we want to do?” And that’s been the most fun part. “Men of Wrath” is the same way in that Ron Garney and I have worked together on a lot of different Marvel Stuff over the years — on “Thor” and “Captain America” — so it feels cool to do something that’s completely ours.
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