Jane Foster has wielded Mjolnir for three years now, and we’re reaching the moment that all those stories have led to. Just as Marvel Legacy gets underway, Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman kick off “The Death of the Mighty Thor” arc in THE MIGHTY THOR #700. What threats will Jane and the various Thors face in this new tale? We went straight to the source to find out.
Marvel.com: Thor is one of the oldest heroes in Marvel history, dating back 55 years. In the spirit of Marvel Legacy, what do you think that kind of history means for Thor and for the Marvel Universe?
Jason Aaron: Yeah, I mean to me, I just think about the legacy of the creators who worked on the book, or worked on the character over the course of all those years. You know, going back to Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, up to Walt Simonson and, you know, [Tom] DeFalco and [Ron] Frenz, and [J. Michael] Straczynski, and, you know, Matt [Fraction] and Kieron [Gillen]. You know, creators who have all kind of added pieces to the mythology along the way. It’s a big thrill for me to be a part of doing issue #700 for THE MIGHTY THOR, and to be able to throw my own stuff into that mix, and to continue to build the idea of Thor and what a Thor story means. In a way that, to me, goes back to that original appearance of the character while also taking things forward and doing Thor stories we’ve never seen before.
Marvel.com: What has it been like to work with this character for as long as each of you have? How has your connection to the characters and Thor’s unique storytelling environment grown over the years?
Jason Aaron: You know, I think that has always kind of been an important part of what I’ve been trying to do with the character, that’s kind of what attracted me to the book in the first place: That you can do stories with Thor that you can’t really do with any other Marvel character. You know, that was kind of what made the character different from Spider-Man and the [Fantastic Four] and everybody else in the first place. Stan and Jack wanted to come up with a character who was a god, who was a part of this crazy pantheon of gods. So I’ve always leaned into that, and done stories that are very much about the God of Thunder, stories that stretch across eons.
We’ve gone into the distant past, into the far, far future, and yeah, I’ve made it a point to do a lot to try and explore and flesh out the very unique setting for Thor stories. There are these various realms, there used to be nine, now we’ve got ten of them. So there are very different, fantastic realms that we’ve continued to explore little by little over the course of my whole run.
Part of that is the War of the Realms. As the war continues to spread from one realm to the next, we get an idea of what each one of those realms is like and who lives there and are they friend or are they foe? That will continue on and we’ll continue to see each and every realm get affected by this war. I think that’s always been a big part of it – being able to do stories that are cosmic fantasy and that make use of this immense, unique timeline that the character has and the very unique setting.
Russell Dauterman: When I first got the job, I wasn’t sure how long it would last, or if people would embrace the new Thor. But I’ve been really surprised at the response, and really moved by all the people who’ve sent messages about how much Jane means to them. That’s energized me and strengthened my connection to the book.
I love these characters, even more than I already did at the start. This book has been an excellent fit for me, and to work with Jason, Matt, and everybody is wonderful. I feel really lucky that we’re having such a (relatively) long run with this series.
Marvel.com: This issue kicks off the “The Death of The Mighty Thor” story arc. With Jane Foster staving off cancer throughout your run, it’s seemed inevitable that her story would reach this place. And it’s right there in the title: Should fans expect Jane’s story to come to an end soon?
Jason Aaron: I don’t know that I want to answer that question directly. [laughs]
From the get go, from the beginning of the “Jane as Thor” story, and even from before that, we’ve seen that Jane’s been battling cancer. That’s been a big part of why she became Thor in the first place and everything she’s had to deal with since then. I’ve enjoyed exploring that dynamic of these two different battles she’s fighting – she’s fighting this grand cosmic battle as Thor and also fighting this very personal, human battle. That’s something that has been very important and that has affected a lot of people, a lot of readers. And I’ve always said, “That’s not something that we’re just going to magic away.” You’re not going to pick up the next issue and Jane rubbed a magic lamp and her cancer is gone. That’s not the way it works. That story has always been moving forward and heading in a very specific direction. We’ll see how that develops, beginning in this “Death of Mighty Thor” arc.
At the same time, the Thor part of that story is that the Mangog has been unleashed. The Mangog is one of those crazy Kirby characters that I’ve literally been talking about using since I first started writing Thor. I’ve been building toward the coming of the Mangog for years now. It’s this being that was born when Odin wiped out a whole alien race. So, it has the power of a billion, billion beings, all of them enraged and hungry for revenge. We saw how the Mangog was released in the pages of Thor as part of the Challenge of the Gods that’s going on between Thor and the Shi’ar gods. So, Mangog is coming, that’s kind of all we know right now. It doesn’t matter if you know who it is or not – we’ll explain everything and try to shed a little more light on why the Mangog exists, what its purpose is, and all that sort of stuff. So, that’s the other big part of the Death of Mighty Thor arc: Mangog is finally on the scene and destruction follows.
So, those are the two big challenges that Jane is looking at, but, you know, issue 700 in particular is very much about the celebration of all things Thor. We’re going to see various versions of the character show up, pretty much every version of the character I’ve used over the course of my run, which is quite a few at this point. As well as touching base with everything else that’s going on in the various realms. It’s really a huge, oversized, wide-ranging story and just sort of a primer for everything that’s going on in the ten realms right now.
Marvel.com: You mentioned the challenges that Jane is facing: The cancer on one end and the Mangog on the other. You’ve been telling the story of Jane as Thor for about three years now. What have been your biggest personal challenges in putting together this storyline for Jane?
Jason Aaron: Certainly dealing with her cancer treatment and wanting to do right by that. And also to not overplay it and feel like we’re hitting that button too much, just not to make it too maudlin or tugging on the heartstrings too much. It’s still a story about a God of Thunder who flies through space with a hammer in her hand. But, again, I’ve liked that balance between the cosmic stuff and keeping it grounded in a very real, human and emotional story. So, I think that’s always the challenge with Thor stories. You can spend too much time flying through space or all fighting elves or dragons, and lose the human part of that. So, I’m always trying to find the humanity in Thor, no matter which version of Thor we’re talking about.
Marvel.com: Russell, you and Matt Wilson created a stunning wraparound cover for this issue, and there’s a lot going on there. I count at least 9 hammer-wielding heroes! Can you tell us how you came up with this cover concept and what it means for the new arc?
Russell Dauterman: Thanks – glad you like it! I was so thrilled that we got to do this. The cover’s definitely one of my favorite things we’ve done for the series. I’m always blown away by Matt’s colors, but I’m especially crazy about these.
This is our big anniversary issue, and I wanted something big to celebrate it. We did the wraparound-foldout cover for THE MIGHTY THOR #1, and I wanted to do something similar here. But, where the #1 cover had all sorts of Asgardian characters, this cover focuses more closely on the various Thors that Jason’s had in his run. I wanted Jane to be the most prominent, leading them into battle. The threat of Mangog has been looming over the book for a little while now, and that’s only going to intensify, so he’s literally looming over our heroes here. And we had to get the Frog of Thunder in there!
Marvel.com: Outside of starting this new story arc, what makes THE MIGHTY THOR #700 special in your mind?
Jason Aaron: It’s not just the beginning of the Death of Mighty Thor arc, this is very much a celebration of 50+ years of Thor stories, and all the different variations of Thor we’ve seen over the years, including most recently in my run. So yeah, they’re all on that cover, they’re all in the book, all drawn by different artists – it’s a total murderer’s row of artists we’ve got. This is probably the greatest collection of artists on anything I’ve ever worked on. You know, led by Russell and Matt Wilson – Eisner Award-winning Matt Wilson now. Walt Simonson coming back to Thor, which is a huge thrill. It’s a huge, impression collection of artists – I don’t think we’ve even announced all of them yet. And again, it celebrates everything that has come before and also takes a big stride in forging ahead where everything goes from here.
Russell Dauterman: The issue, itself, is a celebration of all things Thor, as Jason said. It’s oversized, where Matt and I are joined by that murderer’s row of guest artists – Walter Simonson!! – who are all spotlighting different characters and parts of the Thor world.
The story I’m drawing deals with a favorite character of mine, and has a bit in there with major teases for what’s coming up. I’m super excited for readers to see.
Marvel.com: What are the two of you most looking forward to about the tale you get to tell readers in “The Death of The Mighty Thor?”
Jason Aaron: I would say that this Legacy arc of Thor is one that I’ve been wanting to write for a long, long time. That’s what I’ve always said, when we started the Jane Foster as Thor story, it was never about “let’s just make that change and figure out where it goes.” I was always telling a very specific story. So, I always knew where that was headed and what was coming. I’ve certainly enjoyed the ride along the way, but I was always very excited to get to this part of the story. So, I’ve been looking forward to writing this for a long time.
I think we can say we get to see Jane Foster’s Thor in action against the Hulk. We get a very different Thor/Hulk confrontation than we’ve seen in the past. We get to see Odinson standing alone against some of the worst villains from across the ten realms. We get to see what War Thor is up to, you can expect him to be very angry and calling forth the Bloodstorm. We get to see Loki spend some quality time with his biological father. We get Young Thor, in the Viking age, we get King Thor in the far, far future – I’m picking up threads from that.
Last time we were in that future of King Thor, we saw how he had to use the Necrosword, the weapon of Gor the God Butcher, in order to defeat Galactus. A piece of that seemed to bond with Galactus, either being absorbing by him, or absorbing Galactus. We teased that we had a very, very different sort of Galactus in the far future, so we pick up with that thread. Again, you know, all the different versions of Thor that have been done over the years – we’ve always been telling very specific stories with them. So this moves all of those stories forward. And you also get Frog Thor, as if that wasn’t enough Thors.
Russell Dauterman: This is definitely the biggest story we’ve done with our run on Jane’s series. The arc builds on everything we’ve been doing for the past few years, with a lot of threads coming together. There are a few moments in particular that we’ve talked about that I’m really looking forward to drawing. Sorry for being so vague! I don’t want to spoil anything. But really, I’m most excited for fans to read this arc. I hope it’s really satisfying.