Rodi's Planet-sized "Astonishing Thor"

Marvel's Thor is the son of the former king of the Asgardian Gods, Odin, and Gaea, an Elder Goddess whose domain is the Earth. The Thunder God is always ready to defend his mother's domain, especially now that the Asgardians' home, the city of Asgard, now resides on Earth. That doesn't mean the planet is his only concern, however. On many occasions, both on his own and as a member of the Avengers, Thor has traveled into the cosmos to confront interstellar threats head on, battling these cosmic menaces because it's the honorable thing to do, because his comrades need his help or because he knows that intergalactic threats can very quickly become threats to all life on Earth.

That will be the case in the five-issue "Astonishing Thor" miniseries by writer Robert Rodi and artist Mike Choi, which begins in November. CBR News spoke with Rodi about the project which embroils Thor in an investigation of dangerous terrestrial phenomenon, an investigation that leads him into space and puts him face-to- gigantic face with a dangerous and familiar foe, Ego the Living Planet.

CBR News: So, Robert, you've written a "Loki" miniseries for Marvel Knights and are also writing the current "Thor: For Asgard" miniseries with artist Simone Bianchi. Now you've got "Astonishing Thor" beginning in November! I think it's safe to say that you're pretty fascinated by the Marvel's version of Norse mythology. What is it about Thor, his world and his related characters that keeps you coming back for more?

Robert Rodi: I love the grandeur of that world, the scale, the majesty and the history. These characters have backstories that go back millennia. I'll be playing with that a little in the "Astonishing" arc. Also, I love the fact that Thor works so easily in so many genres: sword-and-sorcery, science fiction, super-hero, family saga."Astonishing," for instance, is straight-ahead space opera, whereas "For Asgard" is high-grade fantasy. The tone and texture could not be more different, yet Thor is the same character in both. At his core, he's rock-solid. He's what binds all these stories together into one tableau. It's one of the reasons I love writing him.

The "Astonishing" line features books that are new reader friendly but also part of current Marvel Universe. In current "Thor" continuity, he's experienced some pretty intense and traumatic events. Asgard was attacked by a super powered army led by Norman Osborn and the souls of some of the Asgardians that were slain in the conflict were devoured by ghoulish monsters. Will any of that factor into your story in "Astonishing," and if so, how do you feel those events have affected Thor?

That's really Matt Fraction's question to answer and I don't want to step on his toes by venturing my own opinion here. Let's just say that in "Astonishing," we keep Thor so busy he doesn't have much time to reflect on the bummer he's been ridin' lately.

The solicits hint that "Astonishing Thor" begins with the Thunder God investigating several freak and devastating occurrences of nature gone amok. What can you tell us beyond that rather vague teaser?

Well, I'm not about to spoil the plot, but the theme is kindred spirits. Ego gets one; and Thor finds one - or I should say, Thor reconnects with one. Which might be nice for the both of them, except, you know, bad nastiness has to go and happen.

Speaking of Ego and bad nastiness, you revive the rivalry between Thor and the Living Planet in this series. What makes Ego an interesting foil for Thor and what's motivating Ego in this series?

Ego's a freakin' planet, man, which kinda blows me away. I mean, this is a character who has his own magnetic field, who has his own time zones; a character who wears a biosphere like we wear a shirt. I really wanted to show Ego as an actual planetary body - with all that that entails. When I whacked you over the head with that, I wanted to double the astonishment factor, which is what I did. In tandem with Ralph Macchio, I think we came up with something that really earns the title "Astonishing."

Who are some of the other important players in "Astonishing Thor?" Are there any other adversaries that Thor must overcome?

Expect a couple of Marvel's other big cosmic players to show up. One of them will reveal a heretofore unknown connection with Ego, which should stir up the interest of some longtime readers. I love using these huge, omnipotent Stan-and-Jack creations because they just break all the rules. I mean, as I was scripting, I thought, "Hey, can I have these two characters have a conversation in space? Because there's no air to carry the sound waves." Then I thought, "What the hell, this is Kirby physics we're dealing with. If these dudes want to talk in space, baby, they talk in space." It was pretty liberating.

In addition to the cosmic characters, I'm reviving an old Bronze Age heroine to add some spice to the mix. Writing a stand-alone arc at Marvel these days is a tough job, because, man, it seems like every single one of their seven decades' worth of characters is being actively used at the moment. Every time I'd ask about using somebody, I'd hear, "Oh, no, you can't use use so-and-so, he/she's appearing regularly over here." But if you look hard enough, you can find characters - pretty freakin' great characters, too - who've fallen through the cracks. It's a kick to be able to resurrect them and put them back on the frontlines of the Marvel U. I actually found one or two more I'm keeping in my back pocket, for the next time the opportunity arises.

How important an element is the settings you're utilizing in "Astonishing Thor?"

This is a space opera, and most of the action occurs in space. That said, setting is very important. You'll see what I mean. All I'll say for now is, yeah, it's outer space, but not that far out; and that's the crux of the matter.

What's it like working with Mike Choi? What do you feel he brings to this book as an artist?

Mike's got a lot of enthusiasm and a wonderful illustrative quality - I've seen some of his pencils that look almost like woodcuts, there's that level of textural detail. I can't wait to see what he does with the historical flashback segments. Also, I'm giving him a lot of splashes and spreads to play with, which is letting him go widescreen in a big way. I think you'll see a whole new Mike Choi when these issues come out.

Based on what you've told us, it sounds like "Astonishing Thor" will be a science fiction story with a pretty big scope and dire consequences should Thor fail...

Aren't there always dire consequences should Thor fail? But yeah, the stakes here are high, and the odds against Thor are even higher. This is space opera ratcheted up to fever pitch; a kind of cosmic version of the perfect storm. Everything comes together at once, and I'm hoping it blows you away. We try to end each issue with some kind of jaw-dropper, and we've got a few to spare. Ralph, Mike and I have put everything we've got into this one. And friends, we did it for you.

Have you started thinking about what you want to do after "Astonishing Thor?" Are you interested in delving deeper into Thor or perhaps some of the other "myth-tastic" characters of the Marvel U, or do you want to try your hand at a new genre?

I'm currently in the talking stages with Marvel about next projects. I'm actually pretty happy doing Thor, so there may be some more of that; but I do have a couple of pet characters I'd love to take on. I've mentioned Fantomex several times - I'll mention him again here. I could have me a swell old time with Fantomex. I also had a blast writing Deadpool in the "Identity Disc" mini. I'd love to handle him again, somewhere, in some way.

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