Matt Fraction's Thunderous New Assignment

When Thor returned to the Marvel Universe in 2007, he reestablished Asgard, the home of the Norse Gods, as a floating city that hovered over Broxton, Oklahoma. This was a move that, predictably, did not sit well with the U.S. government's top superhuman law enforcer, Norman Osborn. In the event storyline "Siege," which kicks off in January 2010, Osborn decides to remedy the Asgardian situation by using his enormous power and influence to raise an unstoppable army to wipe the Asgardians out.

"Siege" may seem like Thor and the Asgardians' darkest hour, but a new day dawns for the Thunder God and the survivors of "Siege" this spring in "Thor" #610, which kicks off new writer Matt Fraction and a top secret artist's run on the book. CBR News spoke with Fraction about his plans for the series and his work on Marvel Comics' Free Comic Book Day offering which features a post-"Siege" story starring Thor and Iron Man.

As longtime fans know, Fraction is no stranger to the world of Thor. He's written the character in the "Secret Invasion: Thor" mini-series, a "God Sized Thor" one-shot, and three "Age of Thunder" specials, which regaled readers with untold tales of the Asgardians. When Marvel offered him the chance to take over the ongoing Thor title, the writer eagerly accepted.

"I was clearly hungry for the character, but there's something rude about salivating over another man's date," Fraction told CBR News. "I felt like I had gotten all the mileage I could out of the 'times past' style stuff without being able to go forward and do new stories. And, ultimately, one of the character's defining runs [by writer J. Michael Straczynski] was going on at the time. So as a fan of the character and the book, I decided to sit back and enjoy the current stories rather than figure out a way to dance between the raindrops. The Batman films taught me to 'never rub another man's rhubarb,' but 'Thor' was a rhubarb I really wanted to rub [Laughs]."

Fraction's run on Thor will begin immediately after the series' current scribe, Kieron Gillen, finishes his six issue stint on the book. "Kieron graciously took on what is maybe the most thankless job in comics: following JMS. He's tying up loose ends from JMS's 'Thor' run and setting up things that need to happen for 'Siege.' It's a brutal, grizzly and thankless job. Having read what's been published thus far, and the stuff Kieron has written that hasn't been published yet, I can say he's exceeded my expectations of what he could accomplish. And I'm a giant Kieron Gillen fan," Fraction said. "His series 'Phonogram' is a personal inspiration. I love the guy's work, and the stuff that he's doing here under the most difficult circumstances is just stellar. He's writing a great 'Thor' storyline and a fantastic arc that should satisfy fans."

When Fraction's run begins, the status quo of "Thor" and the rest of the Marvel Universe will have significantly changed thanks to the events of "Siege." "We're going to be in the Heroic Age. The heroes of the world are standing up, dusting themselves off and feeling the sunlight on their faces for the first time in a long while. It's a delicate and very exciting time," the writer explained. "Right away, you'll see the reality of both Asgard and Broxton post 'Siege;' where everybody is at and what they're thinking. We'll see how America comes together after 'Siege,' how Asgard comes together after 'Siege' and how Asgardians and Broxtonians come together.

"'Come Together' is a great name for the first issue. That's not arrogant, right? Naming all your issues after Beatles songs?" Fraction joked. "It certainly wouldn't be the most arrogant thing I've thought or done [Laughs]."

Fraction told CBR that he plans use this new status quo to tell certain types of stories in "Thor." "I want to explore the Kirbyania science fiction side of Thor that we haven't seen in some time. I want to write big, mind-blowing stuff like the best Thor runs are; ancient sagas reinvented as modern myths and superhero science fiction psychedelia," Fraction remarked. "At the root of these colossal stories is a god with a man inside him and a man with a god inside of him and what the world means to them. What does it mean for man to look up to somebody like that? What does it mean for the Asgardians and their ilk to look down? And then imagine this picture - what would the Asgardians look up to? What is bigger than the Norse Gods? What is bigger than their myths? What if all these things collided all at once in a brain-battering blend of exciting elements?"

Over the years, a number of writers have had critically acclaimed and beloved runs on "Thor," and Fraction is looking to all of these writers for inspiration, especially Walt Simonson. "I love the tone that Walt did. They're in space! Now they're in Svartelheim! They went everywhere," the writer stated. "Thor is this wonderful, big, crazy character. He sat on the moon and talked to Galactus! He sat in a floating hand while a giant eyeball told him the story of the cosmos! Thor's dad donned the Destroyer armor and fought a Celestial! That's the scope that I want. I want these stories to feel like these colossal, special events."

Fraction's "Thor" sagas will unfold in a variety of settings. "I want to deal with all the Nine Worlds not just Asgard and Midgard," the writer revealed. "I want to explore the cosmology of the Nine Worlds. I want to travel up and down the World Tree and check in on some of these places that we haven't seen in awhile."

The supporting cast of Fraction's "Thor" stories will include both new and established friends and foes. "If I mention the name of any specific villains, that will give things away, but I am interested in speculating on what it is the Asgardians look up to. So my first order of business is creating some new stuff," the writer said. "There are some fresh faces coming to town, and some folks will leave town. A lot of stuff goes down.

"I'm also looking to bring some degree of romantic pathos back to the book with Don and Jane, Jane and Thor, and Sif and Thor," Fraction added "I always liked the passions those characters had."

Fraction described the tone of his "Thor" stories as being epic and powerful, much like the four color equivalent of Heavy Metal songs. "The last line of the first page of my first 'Thor' script is a hello to the creative team. It says, 'If you've got 'Led Zeppelin III' go ahead and put it on now," The writer said. "The Metal is back."

Fraction also wants fans to realize that his plans for "Thor" are long term. When he pitched the series to his editors, he gave them two to three years worth of story. "I haven't really broken things out into too much detail. It was very much like when I pitched 'Invincible Iron Man.' I laid out about four to five arcs as, 'Here's what I would do,'" Fraction explained. "There will be discrete chapters, but it is an ongoing narrative. With 'Iron Man,' we jumped ahead and omitted chapters of time from the Marvel Universe in-between the arcs. I suspect my 'Thor' stories will be a little more congruent than 'Iron Man.'"

Readers will get a taste of what Fraction has planned for Thor on Free Comic Book Day, May 1, 2010. Fraction and artist John Romita Jr. are working on Marvel's offering for the annual event, a story which stars both Iron Man and Thor.

"It's kind of a romp. Thor and Iron Man discover that there are weather catastrophes happening all around the Earth. The weather is no longer at Thor's command. No matter what he does, he can't make these weird things stop. Then Thor and Iron Man look up and see that there are clouds on the Moon, so, away we go," Fraction explained. "It's really designed to be a self-contained story. It's an opportunity to explore the relationship between Thor and Iron Man and see these two characters together having fun in a way that's outside of all the big things that have been going on in the Marvel U as of late."

Image courtesy Reuters.

When Fraction first accepted the "Thor" assignment, he was excited to be given the chance to write the character's monthly adventures. With his first issue set to appear in May of next year, he's still feeling very good about the book. Those feeling were reinforced by two recent and bizarre events, which the writer took as good omens. "There was this amazing weather phenomenon over Norway the other day. You're going to think I made this up, but there was a Kirby event over the skies of Norway, and I took that as a good omen," The writer said.

"Another amazing thing happened when I was on the phone talking to my Editor Ralph Macchio. We we're talking about my plans and intentions for the book, and the topic of Odin came up. As we were discussing Odin as a character and what my perspective of him was, these two black crows began circling over my head and cawing loudly. They were being so loud that Ralph asked, 'What's that noise?' and I was like, 'Ralph, you're not going to believe this.'

"So with the two crows and this amazing event that happened over the skies off Norway, clearly the stars are aligning," Fraction joked. "The universe is ready for this run to begin."

Tags: marvel comics, iron man, thor, matt fraction, free comic book day

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