Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman reveal their plans for Jane Foster.

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.

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Writer Jason Aaron introduces two key new characters to his saga!

MIGHTY THOR boasts a story full of exciting twists and turns—from the reveal of Jane Foster as the new Goddess of Thunder to what exactly Nick Fury whispered to Odinson to make him unworthy of Mjolnir. We talked to series writer Jason Aaron about the thrilling reveals of two more mysteries, namely the new identity of Ultimate Thor as well as the volatile Queen of Cinders.

Marvel.com: First, I’ve got to ask about the recent reveal of the new Ultimate Thor in MIGHTY THOR #20—spoilers ahead—why Volstagg?

Jason Aaron: I kind of knew, when we started UNWORTHY THOR, the plan all along was that Odinson would not pick up the hammer at the end of it. Of course, that left it for someone else to come along. I always liked the idea of introducing a new Ultimate Thor and having someone distant and unexpected pick up that hammer! I didn’t want to do the same sort of drawn out mystery that we did with Jane Foster, so I knew I wanted to tell you who it was right out of the gate and why.

I picked Volstagg for a few reasons that I think will become more obvious as the story goes along. Volstagg has been a supporting character on pretty much my entire run of Thor. He came out of the Warriors Three and moved into a desk job, so to speak, for the Congress of Worlds. And [with that role] he’s kind of been at the center of everything that’s swirling around as Malekith continues to ramp things up with the war of the realms.

We wanted to give [readers] a grounds for what the stakes are like in this War of the Realms as it continues to spread from realm to realm, and to see the profound effect that [the War] has on someone like Volstagg who has so often been comic relief. [Tragically,] after issue #20 he’s not laughing anymore.

Marvel.com: The evolution of Volstagg has been handled with such complexity and nuance. Yours are very three-dimensional representations of the Thor cast of characters. I especially like the way Loki is portrayed, for instance…

Jason Aaron: Everything I’ve done [with Loki] has been a continuation of what [past writers] Kieron Gillen and Al Ewing did on that character in the last few years of making him a much more sympathetic character, though still very much a trickster. I’m trying to continue that on while also trying to push him towards the villain side of the fence which began in a big way when he stabbed his mother, Freyja, in the back. That is still something he’ll have to reckon with.

Marvel.com: It must such a delicate balance with him, because even though he’s been into some bad things this run, he is so sympathetic; one of my favorite scenes in the whole MIGHTY THOR run might just be when he visits Freyja as she is lying in bed after the stabbing. It’s all so Shakespearean! Will Loki get a chance for redemption?

Jason Aaron: I’ll just say we’ll be seeing a lot of Loki, not just connected with Thor but also across the Marvel Universe in the coming months. He’s a big part of the MARVEL LEGACY one-shot that I’m doing this fall and that will set up even more stuff that he’s involved in. He’ll very much be at the center of the Marvel Universe as a major player but that will not take away from his role in the pages of [MIGHTY THOR] and the events of the war of the realms.

Mighty Thor #21 cover by Russell Dauterman

[As for Loki in MIGHTY THOR], he seems to be allied with Malekith and his cabal. He has [also] been hanging out with his biological dad who is the king of the Frost Giants. But Loki is always a guy who’s playing by his own rules and has his own plan so…you never quite know what he’s up to.

Marvel.com: Can you tell us a little but about the mysterious Queen of Cinders, who will feature heavily in the upcoming MIGHTY THOR issue #21?

Jason Aaron: Well, a big part of The War of Realms has been about taking readers from one realm to the next and doing a lot of world building in terms of all those different realms. That’s the [exciting thing] in these Thor stories—we have all these wondrous realms. The War continues from one to the other and [the realms] either get conquered or join Malekith. Muspelheim is the land of fire, where flame was born, and we’ve glimpsed that a little. As a part of this War Thor arc we go to Muspelheim in a big way and for the first time we’re introduced to the leader of Muspelheim, which is the Queen of Cinders. [The Queen of Cinders] is the daughter of Surtur, who’s one of Thor’s classic villains. He died and now his daughter has taken the burning throne for herself. This is the first time we’ve seen her and we’re trying to figure out who she is and what her role in this war of the realms is. This is very much about bringing her on stage and bringing Muspelheim into the midst of this conflict and also just exploring that realm. [We wanted to go] a little bit beyond it just being a place where everything’s on fire; we show what they fight for and how they live.

Marvel.com: The realms Thor can navigate must be hard to balance as a creator. What’s it like writing for such a vast, versatile series?

Jason Aaron: [With Thor] you can do stories on a different scale than you do with some other characters. Thor as a god has been around for thousands and thousands of years, and so the first story I did with Thor spanned over eons. You can also go into the far reaches of space and to all these crazy fantasy realms. Then, of course, you also get stories set on a street corner in midtown Manhattan. I think that’s one of the things that’s different about Thor, and what’s so fun about it.

Unlock new mysteries with Jason Aaron’s MIGHTY THOR #21, coming out July 19!

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A new player with a familiar hammer makes their way into Jason Aaron’s epic!

Observers of all things Asgard know that we have a new player in town: the new Ultimate Thor! This God of Thunder seems ready for battle and has a hammer all his own. But who will we find behind the armor?

We asked UNWORTHY THOR and MIGHTY THOR writer Jason Aaron to weigh in on our top five best guesses—without spoilers, of course!

Steve Rogers

Marvel.com: He did wield Mjolnir in the Free Comic Book Day issue of SECRET EMPIRE. Maybe he can wield the hammer of the Ultimate Thor, too? Also, it would make sense with the tone of the end of UNWORTHY THOR #5, where it looks like this new breed of Thor has more war-like tendencies. Given where Cap stands with Hydra right now, it wouldn’t require too much of a leap.

Jason Aaron: That’s a good guess. I’ll just say, what’s going on with Steve right now is very much [SECRET EMPIRE writer] Nick Spencer’s story. I’m kept in the loop in terms of how it involves the hammer, which I was very interested in, and the Odinson will also be a part of that story. But that’s pretty much a story for SECRET EMPIRE and the books that are dealing with Secret Empire. So we won’t really see the MIGHTY THOR series dealing directly with those events.


Odin

Marvel.com: When we see the new Ultimate Thor, we can only see one eye as a shadow covers the other. And as mentioned, this Thor seems pretty war-minded, which would fit with Odin’s personality and history.

Jason Aaron: Yeah, it certainly does look like he only has one eye. Last we saw of Odin—well we haven’t seen him for a while. He’s been [holed] up inside his hall in Asgardia, dealing with the All-Mother Freya, who was poisoned by Loki. But I think it’s safe to say we haven’t seen the last of Odin in the book.

Nick Fury (senior)

Marvel.com: The one eye thing again! Also, we haven’t seen a lot of him since he became The Unseen. Giving him the role of the new Ultimate Thor would bring him back into the fold in a pretty dramatic fashion.

Jason Aaron: But he’s dead! He’d have to come back from the dead. Fury did die and kind of was reborn as something different, as The Unseen, whom we saw in UNWORTHY THOR. He was the first person to kind of realize that the hammer of the Ultimate Thor existed, that it had crossed over into our universe. The events of UNWORTHY THOR were really set into motion by him, by The Unseen. So certainly he has a connection to the hammer.


Maria Hill

Marvel.com: Highly unlikely, of course. But we can see from her dealings in JESSICA JONES, for example, that even though she has taken a hit, she won’t go down easily. She has had plenty of shady dealings that at first you might think would disqualify her from worthiness, but as noted, we’re faced now with a new breed of Thor. And yes, the new Ultimate Thor appears to be a man, but we’ve seen how Mjolnir transforms Jane Foster, so maybe not so far fetched? As the new Ultimate Thor, Maria could definitely stick it to everyone who forced her out of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Jason Aaron: That would be an interesting direction for me to take Maria Hill in! I don’t know if Brian Michael Bendis would be ok with me giving her a beard.

Gorr

Marvel.com: When Nick Fury whispered to the Odinson that “Gorr was right,” it led to his unworthiness. The God Butcher would certainly qualify as a new kind of Thor, and we’d get to see a nice symmetry in bringing this full circle.

Jason Aaron: I do like the sound of “Gorr the War Thor.” It’s got a nice ring to it. Certainly, even though Gorr died in [THOR: GOD OF THUNDER #11], when I was just starting on Thor, he continues to be a presence in the book. It should be obvious now that we’ve found out the secret of what Fury whispered. And that won’t change. In my mind, he has always been a presence in the book, and those questions that he raised and the effect he had on Thor Odinson has continued to have ripple effects through my whole run on the book. And that’s not going to change, we’ll definitely even go a step further and, I think, begin to see more of an effect and more of the impact of Gorr’s legacy and what he set in motion. And it will all kind of come back to haunt the characters in our book in a very real way.

The War Thor makes their presence felt in MIGHTY THOR #20, available from Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman on June 21!

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Hear the first details of the next major step for the Marvel Universe!

Get ready for an exciting new initiative kicking off this fall across the entire Marvel Universe, Marvel Legacy! Featuring the most popular characters in the world and blockbuster new storylines, the House of Ideas returns long running titles to their original series numbering with a renewed sense of hope, wonder, enjoyment and fun. “We want fans to get fired up. Simple as that,” says Marvel’s Editor-In-Chief Axel Alonso. “Marvel Legacy will decide once and for all if the Marvel Universe is big enough for Miles and Peter, Riri and Tony, Thor and Jane Foster, Laura and, dare I say, Logan? Spoiler alert: It is.”

A new era of Marvel Comics kicks off in the fall with MARVEL LEGACY #1, a whopping 50-page one-shot stuffed with twists, surprises, mysteries and revelations, plus a special four-panel fold-out cover by Marvel Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada.

Superstar creators Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic reunite their THOR: GOD OF THUNDER pairing to set the stage for the next chapter of the Marvel Universe.

“This one-shot honors Marvel Comics’ past and it’s a good window into the present day Marvel Universe and then also sets the stage for where we’re gonna go in the future,” comments Aaron. “The main goal was just to be able to give this to someone who’s got no idea what’s going on in the Marvel right now and have that be a good entry point for them and I think it does that.”

As for the plot itself, “We get a peak into the very distant past here so we go back to the prehistoric days of the Marvel Universe,” he adds, offering up a few tantalizing teases. “[We are] seeing versions of Marvel’s biggest legacy characters and different versions we haven’t seen before and [an adventure] of, I guess I could call ‘the Prehistoric Avengers.’ That adventure will have major ramifications for the Marvel Universe going forward.”

Not enough epic foreshadowing for you? Alonso also promises “a last-page reveal that just might break the Internet” while editor Tom Brevoort assures of “the return of a central piece of the Marvel mythos that readers have been mourning in recent months.”

Marvel Legacy initiative spreads out across the Marvel Universe, showcasing epic storylines hearkening back to the glory days of Marvel starring Odinson, Squirrel Girl, Spider-Man, the Avengers, America Chavez, Iron Man, Moon Knight, the Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain Marvel, Luke Cage, the X-Men, Captain America, Ms. Marvel, Deadpool, the Champions, Wolverine, Ironheart, Hulk, The Punisher, and so many more!

“The biggest challenge was in fitting everything that we had into the story, while still actually having a story!” expounds Brevoort. “When we laid out our plans for this [story] at one of our editorial summits, our community of creators was energetic in offering up key elements of the stories they were planning, so much so that it’s an embarrassment of riches. It’s everything that makes Marvel great, exciting, fun and special in a single high-quality package. This is the Marvel that you remember, and the Marvel that you long for.”

But how do we define Marvel’s legacy?

“Marvel’s ‘legacy’ is its universe of amazing but always relatable characters—each and every one of them loved for their strengths and weaknesses,” relates Alonso. “MARVEL LEGACY will prove that yes, absence does make the heart grow fonder, and we love our iconic characters as much as you do.”

“Marvel’s legacy is exciting, dramatic heroic stories featuring human, relatable characters facing situations and struggles that find parallel in the lives of our readers—the world outside your window,” adds Brevoort.

“This one shot being called LEGACY is not a coincidence,” contends Aaron. “This book is very much about that legacy so we see how that legacy stretches back to the distant past and we follow those characters who carry on that legacy in the present and we set the stage for those characters and that legacy will go in the continuing stories to come.”

Beginning this fall, long-running Marvel Universe titles will revert to their classic legacy numbering, honoring and restoring their long history, as new and epic storylines launch under the Marvel Legacy banner. Featuring clean entry points for every series, titles resuming their original numbering will be clearly marked with special trade dress and cover treatments. And that’s just the beginning!

“We’re really setting out to knock you on your ass,” vows Brevoort, “To get you excited and nervous and eager for all sorts of incredible things we’ve got coming up across the Marvel Universe in the next year and beyond. Whether you’re a fan of the core characters or all of the amazing faces we’ve introduced over the past couple of years, whether you’ve been there every Wednesday or you drifted away from Marvel at some point in the past, Marvel Legacy is your easy-access gateway to the future, a shot glass of the Power Cosmic!”

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Writer Jason Aaron reflects back on his run with the Sorcerer Supreme!

We find ourselves at the end of an era, folks. Just as Stephen Strange once faced The Last Days of Magic, writer Jason Aaron finds himself fast approaching the final installment of his nearly two-year run on DOCTOR STRANGE with issue #20 coming May 17. No need to worry, though, because the MIGHTY THOR writer says he has more plans in store for the Sorcerer Supreme.

Jason worked some of his magic on us to deliver a few poignant thoughts on a comic that means a lot to him and the Marvel Universe. Prepare for things to get strange—well, stranger than usual anyway.

Marvel.com: You’ve been writing DOCTOR STRANGE for nearly two years. What has been your favorite part about writing for Stephen Strange? Put another way: What was been the most magical part?

Jason Aaron: I think to me, the most important part coming in was just making the book fun. DOCTOR STRANGE as a series is one that didn’t always catch on. We hadn’t had a solo DOCTOR STRANGE ongoing in a quite a while so the character is sometimes hard for people to connect with or relate to and his world maybe seems so different compared to the rest of the Marvel Universe and maybe a little impenetrable. So I wanted it to be welcoming to people who’d never read a STRANGE book before, but also at the same time, something that could be embraced by the longtime fans of the character and as part of that, I wanted to make it fun to hang out with Stephen Strange and embrace the fact that he is very different from the all the rest of the heroes of the Marvel Universe; I did want to give a weight to what Strange goes through and let you understand a little bit about what it’s like to be him and the price he has to pay to be the Sorcerer Supreme. It’s not like Cap throwing a shield or Thor throwing a hammer. There’s a real price to be paid every time Doctor Strange uses magic. Sometimes that’s a price that’s paid by other people, by the world at large, but most often that’s the price that’s paid by him. So I think we demonstrated that in a lot of different ways and just how difficult it is to be the Sorcerer Supreme. I like kind of that dichotomy and the fact that Doctor Strange seems to be having a good time, the guy even embraces the weirdest little corner of the Marvel Universe, but at the same time, you don’t really wanna be Doctor Strange. It’s not a fun gig.

Marvel.com: Which character, hero or villain, have you most identified with and why?

Jason Aaron: I think it was nice to add a character like Zelma [the librarian] to the mix, someone who came into Strange’s world with fresh eyes, someone who didn’t really even believe in magic before that and certainly didn’t embrace the weirdness in a way that Strange does so I liked seeing [the weirdness] through her eyes and seeing how that experience has changed her along the way, which we really drive that point home in the last issue, issue #20.

Marvel.com: Under your direction, Stephen went from the top of his game as a Sorcerer Supreme to seeing magic die off. Can you discuss the process of crafting this roller coaster-esque odyssey for such a unique character and the challenges therein?

Jason Aaron: I like the way of sort of establishing Strange and the beat he walks as Sorcerer Supreme and what it’s like to him. I like the idea of [villains] who really [burn] his world to the ground—I think from there we start to kind of rebuild it. [We put] a few more limits on his powers; Strange has become kind of a deus ex machina for a while in the Marvel [Universe] where he could always just sort of show up and wave his fingers and save the day so I wanted to get away from that and show it’s a lot harder for him to be who he is and to do what he does, show him really have to fight and struggle for it, sometimes literally. We wanted him to be able to mix it up a little bit more and not just stand around and shoot magical energy blasts, but have to pick up a weapon and jump into the fray more than we’re used to seeing.

Doctor Strange #20 cover

Marvel.com: Another theme in the comic is the existence of supernatural horrors just beyond the veil of human comprehension, which was brought to vivid life by Chris Bachalo’s artwork. Was the cosmic horror and weird fiction of H.P. Lovecraft an influence at all?

Jason Aaron: Sure. I’ve read a lot of Lovecraft and love it. I think, again, that Doctor Strange is very different from all the other heroes in the Marvel Universe and that he’s the guy who walks a very different sort of beat and has to deal with threats that most of the other heroes may not even know exist. We wanted to drive that home and Chris has been a huge part of that. Right out of the gate in issue #1 we did the bit where we kind of see the world through Doctor Strange’s eyes; we call it “Strange Vision” where we see the normal world kind of go into black and white and we see all the things that only someone like Stephen Strange can see in pop and color. Chris is the perfect artist to do stuff like that. He really took it to another level on this. All along the way, once he was on board, he’s been filled with all sorts of crazy ideas with stuff to put in this book, visually, and has taken it to some really wild, imaginative places.

Marvel.com: What was it like writing this comic in the midst of big releases like the “Doctor Strange” movie that helped propel Stephen to a status of fame that he may not have enjoyed before?

Jason Aaron: Yeah, I think that’s really cool. Certainly anything that helps get more eyes on the comics, I’m always a fan of. I really enjoyed the movie, I really liked the tone of it and it felt like the movie and the comic were kind of pulling in the same direction in that regard. I’m really excited to see Strange pop up again in the [Marvel] Cinematic Universe.

Marvel.com: What hints and/or spoilers can you offer up about issue #20 before it drops in May?

Jason Aaron: I think it kind of sums up my run-up to this point. It’s the big issue; it’s drawn by the two artists who’ve handled most of it in the art so far: Chris Bachalo, the main artist, and then Kevin Nowlan who’s drawn a few bits here and there. So the two of them together, I think they’re the perfect pairing for this series. It’s a story that goes to a lot of different places, kind of focuses on Stephen and the core group of supporting characters around him and like I said, sums up my run so far and kind of sets things up for the new writer Dennis Hopeless to [take on] these same characters and take them forward into some new and different stories.

Marvel.com: And going off that, can you say anything on where Doctor Strange will go from here? Is he gonna be making any cameo appearances in MIGHTY THOR?

Jason Aaron: Maybe. You never know. I really enjoyed writing that team-up issue of STRANGE where we saw Doctor Strange and Thor teaming up so yeah, I don’t think I’m done writing Doctor Strange in some capacity.

Marvel.com: Is there anything in particular that you hope readers have taken away from your run on the title?

Jason Aaron: Just, you know, don’t ever touch Doctor Strange’s refrigerator…

Join Jason Aaron, Chris Bachalo, and Kevin Nowlan for DOCTOR STRANGE #20 on May 17!

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Finally find out what felled the Odinson with writer Jason Aaron!

WARNING: This article contained SPOILERS for UNWORTHY THOR #5, available now!

As Thor fans know, the Odinson has had a pretty difficult go of it lately. With the loss of his worthiness, he has found himself on a bit of a journey of self-discovery. As UNWORTHY THOR wraps up, we’ll see what this arc means both for his role in the larger Marvel Universe, and his place in the MIGHTY THOR series moving forward.

We chatted with writer Jason Aaron about what lies ahead for the Odinson.

Marvel.com: UNWORTHY THOR has forced the Odinson to figure out who he is without his worthiness. Can you give us your take on the journey he has gone through?

Jason Aaron: Everything I’ve done over the last few years with making Thor Odinson unworthy and bringing Jane Foster in was about telling a very specific story with her and with a different sort of Thor. But I also wanted to give Thor Odinson his own journey, so I wouldn’t just push him aside. I like the idea of watching him wrestle with his unworthiness and seeing how that changes him, how it makes him a very different sort of character. I think this [limited series] gave us the biggest version of that kind of story that we’ve done. We’ve seen a darker, angrier, very different kind of Thor Odinson.

Marvel.com: Can you tell us a little about your experience writing both UNWORTHY THOR and MIGHTY THOR simultaneously?

Jason Aaron: I love writing Thor. I’ve been doing it for several years now and I have a big pile of Thor stories I’ve wanted to get to. It felt great to have the chance to write two Thor books at once. And to get to work with artists Russell Dauterman and Olivier Coipel at the same time felt like an extravagance of riches. Olivier is already established as one of the best Thor artists ever, and I see Russell rising up the ranks, as well. His art just gets better and better with every arc. And I’ve enjoyed doing these two very different Thor stories at the same time; now we’ll see the two characters collide, and the Odinson’s story will get wrapped up again with Jane Foster’s.

Marvel.com: This is the last issue of the UNWORTHY THOR series; could you tell us a little about what’s next for the Odinson?

Jason Aaron: You can expect to see him pop up in the pages of MIGHTY THOR very soon. He has missed a lot in the time he has been away, so he’ll have a lot to catch up on. And as you can see from the tease at the end of the UNWORTHY THOR #5, we still have more story to tell with the hammer of the Ultimate Thor. After the current MIGHTY THOR arc wraps up, we’ll dive into the story of a brand new Ultimate Thor—yet another very different sort of Thor added to the mix.

Marvel.com: You mentioned the hammer of the Ultimate Thor, which the Odinson encounters in UNWORTHY THOR. What role will it play in his story moving forward?

Jason Aaron: It will have its own big arc, when someone else comes along and picks up the hammer, and gets transformed by it in a different way. This hammer is a little different in that it’s a relic from a dead universe, a holdover from the Ultimate Universe that somehow survived through the events of Secret Wars. The exact nature of that hammer, how it differs from the hammer of Thor in the mainstream Marvel Universe, how it affects someone who wields it, we’ll answer those questions in the pages of MIGHTY THOR.

Marvel.com: In this issue, we finally learn what Nick Fury whispered to the Odinson in Original Sin that made him unworthy. He said, “Gorr was right.” What kind of impact did you hope this reveal would have on the Odinson’s story?

Jason Aaron: The idea with this mystery stretches back to the beginning of my run on Thor. We still see the effects that Thor’s battle with Gorr the God Butcher had on him, and the overall meaning of what Gorr did and why. I think as long as I’m guiding Thor’s ship, that idea of worthiness and what it means to be a god in the Marvel Universe will remain prominent themes. And I think this reveal shows that these questions still plague Thor Odinson, and I don’t expect that to go away anytime soon.

Follow the fate of the Odinson yourself in UNWORTHY THOR #5, on sale now, and in future issues of MIGHTY THOR!

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Jason Aaron and Kieron Gillen unite for a Star Wars event crossover!

By now, fans know of a new disturbance in the force, and it takes the form of “The Screaming Citadel”—the next crossover taking place in the STAR WARS and DOCTOR APHRA series. This five-issue event sees Luke Skywalker pair off with the unlikeliest of allies: Doctor Aphra!

Beginning in May, the story opens up with STAR WARS: THE SCREAMING CITADEL one-shot from Kieron Gillen and artist Marco Checchetto, and it continues in STAR WARS #31 with Jason Aaron and into Gillen’s DOCTOR APHRA #7.

We spoke with both Aaron and Gillen about their second crossover collaboration and a little of what we can expect to see from them when they take us to The Screaming Citadel!

Marvel.com: Gentlemen, this May you both will be working together on a new crossover called “The Screaming Citadel,” which will take place between the DOCTOR APHRA and regular STAR WARS series.

Before we dig into the specifics of the story, can you share a little bit about how you both came together for another crossover event? Is this something we can expect on an annual basis akin to the summer events, or was this something that grew out of your respective series?

Jason Aaron: Just like with [previous crossover] “Vader Down,” this grew out of what Kieron and I were doing. It was definitely something that came out of our stories organically. It wasn’t the case where we had to wedge this event into what we were already doing. It was very natural.

I take that all back. We really can’t stand each other and only work together when forced to do so.

Kieron Gillen: I respond best to gunfire and I believe my family is being held by Marvel, so my involvement was guaranteed.

Jason Aaron: They’re doing fine; we’re feeding them well!

Kieron Gillen: What a relief! But really, Jason and I have been doing this for a few years now, and we’ve grown accustomed to sharing the characters and talking about our stories and their shared histories. And sometimes, we figure it’s time for them to get together.

It’s one of the thrills of doing something like this is exploring the characters’ personalities, and discovering who might end up being more antagonistic. So, we see Luke and Doctor Aphra going off together on this adventure, and we get to see some very different interactions here.

Jason Aaron: I think in writing the issues so far reminds me of how much fun it was writing “Vader Down” and mixing up the casts together. And it reminds me how much there still is left on the table. We did that crossover and the whole thing was these two casts fighting against each other, but we really only scratched the surface of what’s out there for stories. It’s been a blast getting back to that.

Marvel.com: So, let’s talk angry architecture: what exactly is The Screaming Citadel? Is this something new that you came up with?

Kieron Gillen: We bandied about some ideas and wanted to go about telling a very different kind of story. It’s going to end up being a horror story! But it has to be more than just monsters as the world of Star Wars is already filled with them. So, we just tried to take all the parts of the horror genre that we liked, but then went about doing them in different way.

It’s a weird alien world, but we very clearly put the poor villagers at the bottom of an enormous castle! The gothic elements will be there—just different in some regards.

Jason Aaron: I think, story-wise, it’s growing out of what Kieron’s doing in DOCTOR APHRA. You can see the seeds are there. Then when we talked about the best way to mix our casts together again, some of the different gothic elements came up – and that’s what we seized upon and got everyone excited about. Like Kieron said, we haven’t really seen a STAR WARS story like this, at least not in the comics we’ve been writing the past few years. But it makes sense given what Kieron’s set up in DOCTOR APHRA and with the characters whom we’re throwing into the mix. It feels very [natural].

It’s surprised me how easy and fun it’s been to write these characters in this horror-driven setting.

Kieron Gillen: I tend to be one who is self-deprecating and feels guilt when I enjoy something, and I have to be honest, it’s been a real joy writing this. It’s almost as if something [has] gone wrong because I’m really having fun with it! It comes quite freely and there are a lot of ideas coming out of all of this. It has a real “pulpy” energy to it.

Marvel.com: This storyline will see Luke Skywalker reluctantly team with Doctor Aphra as they investigate The Screaming Citadel, an infamous castle located on the edge of space.

Luke isn’t quite the farm boy fresh off Tatooine anymore, but he’s still a far cry from the space-savvy Aphra. What brings these two unlikely characters together?

Jason Aaron: They need each other. Luke has been on a quest to become a Jedi; to be what he needs to be to win this war, to defeat Darth Vader, and to save his friends. He knows he has to be better and he has to keep working towards becoming who he needs to be. He’s been on that road since STAR WARS #1, and the stakes keep getting raised in that quest. We’ve even recently seen C-3PO taken captive by the Empire, so now Luke is starting to lose his friends and he can’t always save them.

He’s desperate to get whatever he needs to be the person they need. Aphra shows up and shows him a chance to get there.

Kieron Gillen: To be fair, Luke doesn’t instantly trust Aphra. The last time they met, she was working for Darth Vader and she tried to kidnap him. But Luke sees an opportunity with her, and Aphra needs Luke for something, so it feels natural for them to come together. The problem is that Aphra’s also very well aware that no one else will let her do this.

Marvel.com: Now, there is the Queen of the Screaming Citadel that readers will meet as well when Luke and Aphra arrive on her planet. Why haven’t we heard about her before? What sort of dangers or threats might she pose? Are we looking at some sort of “fringe” dark side force user?

Jason Aaron: It’s a big galaxy and there are lots of characters we haven’t met yet. In Kieron’s first issue, there’s a very good reason given for why this is happening when it is happening. There’s only one day when this adventure could get going.

Kieron Gillen: That’s a good question! She’s a very reclusive figure, semi-legendary, but only within this one, isolated area of the galaxy. And she really doesn’t let people speak about her. That’s how we’ve got the character set up. You see, there’s more than the dark side going on in the galaxy, and that should make you feel creeped out, you know? There’s a lot going on in that area that’s quite unusual.

Marvel.com: There are some aspects of this—whether right or wrong—that brings to mind the supernatural Nightsisters and Mother Talzin of the animated The Clone Wars series. Are there any direct or indirect connections to this with the Screaming Citadel and it’s terrifying queen?

Kieron Gillen: The Nightsisters were there for us originally, but there is no connection between them and the Queen, even if it was something we were chewing over early on. Would you say that’s fair, Jason?

Jason Aaron: Yeah, that sounds about right.

Kieron Gillen: I’d say by ways of comparison, the Queen occupies a very different sort of space.

Marvel.com: Many Star Wars fans cite The Empire Strikes Back as the best of the movies—past or present—as it took a much darker bent and was the first to really let the bad guys win. Given that you’ll be taking a turn towards a more supernatural direction, how far into the dark side do you plan to go with this story?

Jason Aaron: That’s a good question! It’s certainly going to have a different tone than “Vader Down,” but it’s not going to be terribly grim. In fact, I think it’ll be a little funnier. Yes, it looks a lot darker and we’re playing with some old horror tropes, but whenever you get the casts of these characters together, it’s going to be funny. We’re certainly trying to mine for whatever laughs we can find!

Kieron Gillen: I’m not even sure it could compare to any of the other Star Wars movies because it has its own set of stakes. It’s like a “high adventure” movie. The fact that they’re going into someplace as creepy as it is makes sense, but there’s the adventure. It’s more like an Indiana Jones adventure film than anything else. That creepy danger with the humor and pulpy adventure.

Marvel.com: Something more along the lines of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom then?

Kieron Gillen: I’d say that’s a really good comparison!

Marvel.com: Last question: Once readers are on the other side of this storyline, where do you see both Aphra and Luke? Put another way, how do you see this storyline affecting who they will become down the road as heroes or anti-heroes?

Jason Aaron: I don’t think we can specifically, but we can say that like “Vader Down,” it’s not a detour, it’s a next step. This crossover will have ramifications for both characters.

Kieron Gillen: It’s important for the DOCTOR APHRA readers to know this arc is not something you can skip and go right into the third arc. It’s going to play an important role in character building for her that you’ll need going into that eventual third arc. Luke is the farm boy, of course, but he’s not quite the same as he used to be. And Aphra has been this cynical monster who’s been around the galaxy, but maybe she’s not as bad as she thinks she—even though she can be pretty bad.

At the same time, they both have some similarities. They both lost their families in the war. They get to know each other and they also get under each other’s skin. That’s the real emotion core to this book, you know? I’m sure both will be better—and worse!—for the experience!

Make your way to The Screaming Citadel starting this May!

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