DeMatteis Orders a Lightning Strike With "Chaos War: Thor"

This Fall, the Chaos War commences and the entire Marvel Universe will suddenly find itself in danger of being obliterated. The perpetrator of this war is Amatusu-Mikaboshi, the Japanese god of Darkness and Chaos and the self described Chaos King. He and his army of alien slave gods hellbent on assuring that nothing exists in the Marvel Universe but the Chaos King himself. Luckily, the heroes of the Marvel Universe aren't about to allow that to happen - especially gods like Thor who has a one word message for the Chaos King; "NAY!"

The Asgardian Thunder God will be playing a big role in the "Chaos War" miniseries by writers Fred Van Lente and Greg Pak and artist Khoi Pham where he will serve as part of the new "God Squad," a team of divine entities and cosmic beings out to prevent the Chaos King from achieving his destructive goal. Thor will also participate in the "Chaos War" in a solo capacity in the two issue "Chaos War: Thor" by writer J.M. DeMatteis ( "Kraven's Last Hunt," "Formerly Known as the Justice League" with co-writer Keith Giffen) and artist Brian Ching ("Iron Man: Kiss and Kill," "Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic")

CBR News spoke with DeMatteis and his editor Mark Paniccia about the Novmber-launching series which will pit Thor directly against one of the Chaos King's most dangerous lieutenants.

CBR News: J.M. you did a lot of work for Marvel in the '80s, but with the exception of the "Defenders" miniseries you and Keith Giffen wrote in 2005, it seems like you spent most of the '90s and the 2000s doing your own projects or work for DC. Recently you returned to Marvel to write the "Amazing Spider-Man" Kaine and Kraven backup story and now you have this project. It seems like you're back and slowly getting your feet wet in the Marvel pool - how does it feel to be working for the company again?

J.M. DeMatteis: I've been a freelancer long enough to know that things are cyclical. Sometimes I'm focusing on originals, sometimes I'm working more for one publisher than another, sometimes I'm doing more television than comics, or concentrating on a book, etc. You just go where the ideas - and the work offers - lead.

To be honest, it's not about writing for Marvel or DC (or IDW or BOOM! or whoever), it's about doing interesting projects for people you respect and enjoy working with. Working with Steve Wacker and Crew on the Spider-Man stories has been a blast, and this new Thor project for Mark Paniccia has been just as much fun. I've especially enjoyed the interactions with "Chaos War" architects Fred Van Lente and Greg Pak. They've cooked up a terrific story and I'm delighted to be participating in the project.

Over the course of your career, you've had a chance to write Thor as an Avenger and perhaps as a guest star in some of your other Marvel titles, but if my research is correct, this is the first time you're writing the character on his own. What is it like to finally write the God of Thunder in a solo environment?

Thor showed up in a few stories I wrote way back when, but I've never had a chance to seriously explore the psyche and mythologies of the character before. He's one of the few Marvel icons I can say that about. That's another reason this project is so much fun.

I don't want to give too much away, but it's a story that's cosmic and personal. It's got huge cosmic battles - the story opens with a confrontation that's fairly epic - and small, intimate human elements. The story also gives me a chance to explore the wonderful Blake/Thor metaphor. The idea that this seemingly small, limited, weak man is, in truth, one of the most powerful beings in the universe: a god. "Chaos War: Thor" hinges on the idea that this isn't just true for Don Blake: it's true for every one of us. We all contain the universe, we're all so much more than we could ever imagine.

It's been revealed that Thor is going to face a new character named Glory in this story. What can you tell us about Glory? What does he ultimately want and why has he allied himself with the Chaos King?

The thing that makes Glory so interesting (to me, at least) is the fact that he's not one single god: he's the embodiment of an entire pantheon. Imagine if all the gods of Olympus were one being, contained within the body of Zeus, and you'll get some sense of just how formidable Glory is. Add to that the fact that he's the god of a race that lives a brutal existence of unending war and suffering. Glory is a reflection of the violence and struggle and lunacy of the people that worship him (and you could just as easily call Glory "her" or "it"). In other words, he's not just powerful: he's savage, depraved. Cosmically savage and depraved. His view of life, the universe and everything is incredibly dark and brutal. Tearing down the universes at Chaos's side is a no-brainer for Glory.

Who are some of the other important supporting players in this story?

The emotional focus of "Chaos War: Thor" is on Thor's relationship with a woman named Becca. She's been through a personal tragedy that's left her broken and cut off from society. Thor literally falls out of the sky into her life and their connection forms the heart and soul of the story. That relationship also ties in, very directly, to my favorite aspect of the Thor series: that aforementioned Blake/Thor metaphor.

Where does "Chaos War: Thor" take place and how important is the setting to the events of the story?

Although we kick things off in space, with a huge Thor-Glory confrontation, the story takes place primarily on Earth, in and around Becca's retreat: a small mountain cabin in North Carolina. The setting itself reflects Becca's alienation and the intimacy of her connection with Thor (who first appears in the form of a confused and wounded Don Blake). Of course, when Glory follows Thor there, things start to get big and cosmic - and nasty - again

How would you describe the tone of "Chaos War: Thor?" From the description Marvel sent us it sounds like an intense, action packed, fantasy epic. Is that correct?

It is that, very much. But, as previously noted, "Chaos War: Thor" is also a very intimate, human story. The fun is linking those elements up - in plot, character and theme. If I can achieve that balance, it should be a terrific story. Fingers crossed!

After the mini wraps, do you have any other comic work lined up from Marvel? Do you have any current or upcoming projects with other companies that fans of your work should keep an eye out for?

It looks like there's more Thor in my future. Ralph Macchio just asked me to write a 38 page Thor one-shot that will resurrect a character I developed back in the 90's: another cosmic heavy-hitter named Scrier. I'm just getting started on that, but it promises to be a fun, epic tale in the "Chaos War" mode. As for other comics work, Keith Giffen and I are writing the "Booster Gold" monthly for DC and having an incredible time playing in our old JLI universe. I've also got a couple of original projects that I'm developing and pitching (one with Mike Cavallaro and another with Shawn McManus) - and I'm continuing to edit for for Ardden Entertainment. We're about to launch our second Flash Gordon miniseries as well as a couple of minis that - well, I can't talk about them yet. There'll be an announcement shortly.

I've been very busy with animation work this year, writing multiple episodes of "Batman: The Brave and the Bold" and "Sym-Bionic Titan" (a new series from Samurai Jack's Genndy Tartakovsky). I'm also writing multiple episodes of a new "Thundercats" series and I just finished my first "Ben-10" episode.

Best of all (for me, anyway), my children's fantasy novel, "Imaginalis," came out from Harper Collins last month. (When I say "children," of course, that means anyone who still possesses a child's sense of wonder, so that includes most fans of comics, fantasy and science-fiction.) I'm incredibly excited about it - the response so far has been great - and I'm doing everything I can to raise awareness about the book.

Any final thoughts you'd like to share about "Chaos War: Thor?"

Just that it's a genuine pleasure writing this iconic character - especially at a time when so much media attention is being focused on him. I've been a big fan of Kenneth Branagh's work since his "Henry V" film, back in 1989, and I'm really looking forward to the "Thor" movie.

And now a quick word from editor Mark Paniccia:

This issue gave J.M. a chance to create an insane adversary for Thor that matches the kind of crazy cool concepts going on in "Chaos War," but he also gives us a very intimate look at Blake. J.M.'s balancing the epic proportions of the war against an isolated environment that allows for a personal story that's still filled with pulse pounding action. And Brian Ching's art is spectacular. His rendition of the Glory character is as frightening as it is awesome and his pacing and detail are impeccable.

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