Marvel NOW! teaser by Joe Quesada

By Tim O’Shea

Starting this November, the Marvel NOW! Re-Evolution enables writer Jason Aaron and artist Esad Ribic to follow an immortal through the ages in THOR: GOD OF THUNDER. Their story begins in the Asgardian’s younger days in the Viking Age, continues through his present day adventures and ultimately lands in the far flung future where the Odinson rules as king of a shattered Asgard.

Aaron and Ribic have leapt into the fray head first, fired up to tackle this new series with unbridled passion and perspective. Not only have the creative duo set out to unleash an Asgard unlike any ever seen before, they’ve also pitted Thor against a new threat, The God Butcher, who aims to destroy all that he holds dear across all of time.

We harnessed the seemingly boundless energy of Aaron and Ribic to get an inkling of how wide and far-reaching their plans for THOR: GOD OF THUNDER extend. Jason, we already know that Rick Remender’s dinner with you a few creative retreats ago partially resulted in UNCANNY AVENGERS . Were the seeds of THOR: GOD OF THUNDER first planted at that retreat as well?

Jason Aaron: I think that was the retreat where we first started hammering out what Avengers Vs. X-Men was going to be. And it was at that same retreat where I think the idea was first floated for some sort of creative shuffle to follow AvX. So once that idea was locked in, suddenly most every book in the Marvel Universe was up for grabs. And even though I’d never really thought about it before, because it had never been an option, I suddenly realized that I really wanted to write Thor.

Thor: God of Thunder #1 cover by Esad Ribic The scale and scope of this new series is quite ambitious, crafting a series with three eras of Thor. In building this, how creatively invigorating is it to construct in essence a new mythology dynamic?

Jason Aaron: This whole experience has been invigorating. I think Marvel NOW! is the most exciting thing to happen during my entire time at Marvel. These last few retreats have been amazing, getting to sit and listen to all of these great writers present their takes on their new series. It all feels very fresh and exciting. I’ve left those retreats fired up about getting home and getting back to work.

What I’m trying to do with Thor is just focus in on his character, on who he really is, but in as epic a way as possible. Thor, by definition, demands stories of a grand scale, so yeah, this one spans millennia, from the Viking Age to the far flung future. And it takes us all across the Marvel U as well, from Earth to the far corners of space, from all new otherworldly cities of gods to an Asgard like we’ve never seen before. One of my favorite quotes from one of the original Stan Lee stories was where Odin says, “I am the way and the wrath and the wonder.” And I took that line to heart. So I’m looking to inject my run with as much wrath and wonder as possible.

But again, ultimately it’s all about Thor, and by showing him in three very different eras of his life—as the young hotheaded god of the Viking Age, as the accomplished and legendary Avenger of the present, and as an aging king of a broken future Asgard—I think we can get a very clear picture of just who Thor really is. Once you realized the adventure you wanted to embark upon, how critical was it to you to get someone of Esad Ribic’s prowess on as the series artist?

Dark Reign: The List – Wolverine by Jason Aaron & Esad Ribic

Jason Aaron: Knowing Esad was my cohort on this actually helped shape the entire story. He was mentioned to me as the artist before I even had a story. So once I knew I was working with someone whose skill is through the roof, who can design the most fantastic of landscapes and make them seem real, who can shift easily from a battle of the grandest, most epic scale to the smallest, most delicate of facial expressions without missing a beat, someone who can quite literally draw absolutely anything I can possibly imagine, it cleared me to go as big and crazy as I could. And the pages Esad is turning in are amazing. Everyone who’s seen them has been blown away. Esad, what was it that attracted you to joining the creative team?

Esad Ribic: Jason Aaron himself! We had already worked together [on DARK REIGN: THE LIST – WOLVERINE] and decided we kind of clicked creatively, so it was matter of chance. I didn’t have any info [on Jason’s plans for THOR: GOD OF THUNDER] when I said yes! Part of the first issue takes place on the ancient shores of Iceland, in the era of the Vikings. Would you agree your art style seems perfectly suited to tackle ambitious and landscape-rich scenes like that?

Esad Ribic: I don’t know what it’s perfectly suited for; I guess that’d be up to readers to decide. I do know that I like to play with mise-en-scène and I am trying to do justice to each setting, time permitting. Taking part in a series featuring Thor in the past, present and future seemingly opens a lot of opportunity for some great costume designs. Can you discuss the design process and what you considered in defining the look for this series?

Esad Ribic: Well, my idea was to have costumes based on different ages of history: Young Thor would be inspired by the early Viking age—late antiquity—present [day Thor] is a bit medieval and the old one approaches the sci-fi/Kirby look. Whatever I do, I’ll try to leave some space for improvisation, varying the costumes and approach on a scene-to-scene basis.

Thor vs. Loki by Esad Ribic As understandably important as Thor is to this story, the forces conspiring against him are just as vital. What can you tell us about this new villain, The God Butcher?

Jason Aaron: He’s a mysterious figure who seems to have a very strong hatred of gods—all gods. Now we’ve seen Thor face god killers before, but never one as ferocious and brutal as this. When Thor first encounters this new villain, The God Butcher is basically traveling the universe in secret, quietly murdering immortals one by one. He’s basically a serial killer of gods. But that’s only the beginning. Since our story spans thousands of years, we see the God Butcher’s methods develop and change over the course of eons. Ultimately his plan becomes—well, you’ll just have to wait and see. Typically when folks think of Thor, they are used to his weapon of choice being his trusty hammer. In this series, young Thor takes to foes with an axe. What’s it like to choreograph fight scenes getting to utilize the axe dynamics in the mix versus the present day and future Mjolnir-wielding Thor?

Esad Ribic: I do have some experience with chopping wood, that’s where I drew most of my inspiration from; some shameless stealing of preexisting material too! The way I designed his axe allows him to use both ends of it as a weapon, so it might prove to be a more efficient weapon. Of course it doesn’t have the awesome power of Mjolnir but in a ninja’s hands even duck crap turns into deadly weapon, so… A constant in Thor’s appeal throughout his years in the Marvel universe has been his supporting cast; does that remain the case here as well?

Thor by Esad Ribic

Jason Aaron: I love Thor’s supporting cast, but for the sake of this first story, we actually won’t see them much at all. Again, I wanted to really focus in on Thor in these opening arcs. And since we’re dealing with three versions of Thor, he basically becomes his own supporting cast. In general I also like the idea that Thor’s adventures don’t have one core supporting cast or one solitary setting. I think Thor’s adventures should take him everywhere and bring him into contact with all manner of other beings. Going back to the original Lee/Kirby issues again, I like how they would spend a couple of arcs on Earth and then a couple arcs in Asgard. They were always going back and forth like that. I want to have a similar structure, where from arc to arc, Thor’s adventures could take place literally anywhere in the Marvel Universe. Of course there will be some recurring supporting characters along the way, but I want them to be a mix of new characters and old, of gods and mortals, of earthlings and aliens.  Jason, given your strong friendship with Rick Remender, does that relationship and creative rapport help in constructing your portions of this post-AvX Marvel Universe?

Jason Aaron: Yeah, Rick’s probably one of the other writers I talk to the most. He and I have enjoyed sharing ideas over in the X-Men corner of the Marvel U. And I would expect that to continue now. Actually just today we were talking about some THOR: GOD OF THUNDER/UNCANNY AVENGERS business that should pay off way down the road. So yeah, Rick’s all right. For a dude who doesn’t like football.

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