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I Say Thee Ribbit! The Return of Frog Thor

by  in Comic News Comment
I Say Thee Ribbit! The Return of Frog Thor
“Spider-Man Family” #6 on sale in December

December marks the return of a mighty thunder god. Not the blonde pretty boy already starring in his own monthly Marvel Comics series, but a much grander hammer-wielding Norse deity — Frog Thor. Written and illustrated by Chris Eliopoulos, “Spider-Man Family” #6 will see the titular wall-crawler teamed with an amphibious Avenger who hasn’t been seen on the comics page in 20 years. CBR News spoke with Eliopoulos about the shocking event.

The first and most obvious questions on many fans’ minds are, why Frog Thor? Why now? What makes this a precipitous moment for an amphibious thunder-god’s return? The answer is surprisingly simple. “Basically, my editor, Nate Cosby, sent me an e-mail saying he wanted me to do a ‘Spider-Man Family’ story, 22 pages, and to have his favorite character — Frog Thor,” Chris Eliopoulos told CBR News. “It was up to me to make up the story.”

Cosby offered Eliopoulos the gig based on the writer-artist’s past successes on “Spider-Man Family,” rather than on any pre-established Frog-Thor camaraderie. Asked whether he and his editor had ever discussed the character previously, Eliopoulos said, “We hadn’t talked about it before. In fact, the first time I had heard of Frog Thor was at the New York Comic-Con this past February. Me, Erik Larsen, Augie De Blieck and some guy named Jonah Weiland were out at dinner and Erik told us the story of Throg.” 

Page from “Spider-Man Family” #6

Frog Thor, or “Throg,” first appeared in 1986’s “Thor” #363, written and illustrated by Walt Simonson. Eliopoulos’s “Spider-Man Family” story, though, does not require an extensive knowledge of obscure Marvel history to enjoy. Eliopoulos describes the issue as an “out of continuity homage — sort of. When talking to Nate, he told me he wanted it to be new reader friendly, no continuity. I also wanted to do Peter Parker in his days when he was still in high school, so that seemed to work well. It’s not in Marvel continuity, so in a sense this is his first time being turned into a frog, like in Walt’s story.”

Does the return of Frog Thor signal a resurgence of other animal heroes of days gone by, such as, er, Capwolf? Or is there something about Throg that just works, something that other “transformed” characters just can’t match? “I think, with the idea of gods and mythology, you can always think back to a protagonist turning into a frog,” Eliopoulos said. “It works with the mythology. Cap as a werewolf is just out of left field.”

Page from “Spider-Man Family” #6

Beyond the fact that the issue features a team-up between Spider-Man and Thor-as-a-Frog, Eliopoulos is tight lipped about what sort of adventure the pair will be having. “It’s a freakin’ Frog of Thunder kicking butt–what more do you need to know?”

Does the veil of secrecy suggest a secret tie-in with that other big deal in Spider-Man’s life, “One More Day?” Eliopoulos isn’t saying. “I can’t talk too much about where ‘OMD’ is leading or [Marvel Editor-in-Chief] Joey Q would pull out my nose hairs one by one, but you never know, maybe this Frog story isn’t out of continuity….”

With his work on “Spider-Man Family” and the Franklin Richards comics, Eliopoulos is doing his part in providing Marvel with some kid-friendly titles in what has been criticized as an aging superhero business. Eliopoulos views his as a vital role, both for Marvel and for comics in general.

Page from “Spider-Man Family” #6

“I think [kid-friendly comics] are the most important in keeping the comics industry growing,” said Eliopoulos.  “We need to get new readers in or we are doomed. We need to get the kids when they are young and get them addicted–man I sound like a drug dealer. Seriously, I think we as an industry need to put more focus on that demographic and let people not familiar with comics learn about them and get them interested.”

In addition to the Frog Thor story, Eliopoulos is keeping busy with several other projects for Marvel. “We have four more Franklins coming up this year. It’s a fun all-ages read and we’re going to be trying some new things. Also, I’ll be writing four issues of ‘Marvel Adventures Fantastic Four.'”

And, of course, the webcomic “Misery Loves Sherman” appears on Chris Eliopoulos’ website.

Now discuss this story in CBR’s Marvel Comics forum.

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