Bryan J.L. Glass Talks in Depth about THOR: FIRST THUNDER

Comic Bookby Joey Paur

Marvel recently conducted an interview with comic writer Bryan J.L. Glass in which he talked in depth about his new Thor comic Thor: First Thunder and Valkyrie, which gives us a modern day retelling of the origin of Thor! The five-issue limited series retains many elements from Thor's original origin story found in Journey Into Mystery #83, but it's updated with current sensibilities. I imagine it will follow the storyline of the upcoming Thor movie a little more. It sounds like it will be a fun comic to read.

Here is the Interview from Marvel: To start things off here, you're doing two stories that focus on Norse mythological characters. So, my first question is what is your obsession with Norse mythology, sir?

Bryan J. Glass: [Laughs] I personally do not have an obsession with Norse mythology. The character of Thor through Marvel Comics fascinated me during the Walt Simonson era. His run was my introduction to Thor outside of the Avengers. Then, you can't be a friend of Mike Oeming without having his love of mythology rub off on you. Mike originally pitched his series concept Hammer of the Gods to me back in the mid 90's. I spent a couple of months doing research, but I eventually had to drop out of that. But it was during that very short period of time that I was doing research that I developed my love for Norse mythology, which we then applied to Mice Templar, and it was through Mice Templar that I got VALKRYIE and through VALKRYIE [that] I got THOR: FIRST THUNDER. That's the chronology. [Laughs] What about Norse mythology appeals to you and drew you in?

Bryan J. Glass: Norse mythology, to me, is passionate. There are some very intriguing parallels with Judeo-Christian in a way that's too elaborate to explain right now. But yet, the Norse mythology comes down on this very savage honor that is very intriguing and compelling. What's interesting with the THOR series is that you're going back to the beginning and taking what's come before in both the super hero sense and Norse sense and basically updating his origin. How did you find the balance between the super hero aspects and Norse aspects?

Bryan J. Glass: Well, the very first challenge I faced was stepping into the shoes of Stan Lee and his brother Larry Lieber, who dialogued most of those early issues, and Jack Kirby, who brought his storytelling expertise through the dynamic art. It was very daunting. While I was thrilled to get the assignment, I was both humbled and intimidated to follow in those footsteps. There's such a temptation in young creators today to climb on the backs that pioneered the path before them in order to proclaim how much better they are than the pioneers that got them there. That was the last thing in the world that I wanted to do or be accused of doing. I wanted to find a way to honor the assignment, but to do so in a way that honored Stan and Jack. Most of those early JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY issues focused far more on Thor on Earth than they did on [his] Asgardian origins. In this particular instance, to take a year's worth of JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY and condense them into five issues, it essentially is all Thor on Earth. There wasn't a lot of room to explore Asgard because in the story, Thor has been banished. In this new exploration, we are taking events that were originally revealed later, [specifically] that Odin banished Thor to Earth in the form of Doctor Donald Blake for him to learn humility as a punishment. I introduced that as a form of that punishment, he has been denied Asgard. In FIRST THUNDER, Thor is not coming and going between Earth and Asgard with impunity. He has been barred until the lesson has been learned. When you look at Thor's origins in those early issues, it definitely has that Silver Age sensibility to it. He's being chased by monsters and stumbles into a cave that just happens to have the stick that he taps and becomes Thor. How do you take those beats and shape into a more modern tale? I understand that you really wanted to take events from the original run and give a more logical progression to it all.

Bryan J. Glass: When they presented the assignment to me and I accepted, editor Bill Rosemann gave me the first 12 issues of JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY with Thor. The instruction was that they wanted one thematic story to tell. And they didn't tell me what they wanted that story to be. It was almost like I was being tested. They just said, "Read through these and find a theme that you can build a five-issue story arc out of." I found the theme I was looking for with Thor and Donald Blake and the banishment from Asgard and Thor's eventual return to glory at the end. Then I started going through the issues. In that first year, Loki appeared three times, but in those three appearances it was "he escaped from Asgard, wreaks havoc on Earth, Thor captures him and sends him back," then "Loki escapes from Asgard, wreaks havoc on Earth, Thor captures him and sends him back." [Laughs] It made you wonder why Loki was not escaping constantly in all the years that Thor was not in the ether of the universe after he was banished. What has Loki been doing all that time? I took the first two of Loki's adventures and I took elements of two separate stories and combined them into issue #2, which features Loki's grand escape from Asgard. Only instead of being apprehended by Thor at the end, Thor captures him, but Loki engineers his escape. So, Loki is in the background of the entire series instead of a constant "capture, escape, capture, escape." I used Thor's knowledge of Loki being loose in the world as Thor's reason to fight evil globally. We use that guilt as a driving motivator for Thor to embark on these various adventures. At one point, we do a montage in the series where I acknowledge every single adventure through an image or two that occurred in that first year of JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY. We're using that impetus of Loki loose in the world to have Thor embark on those adventures.

We find a way that across the montage of Thor's various adventures it's accompanied with a newspaper editorial and that's one of the ways that we're showing how the world is reacting to a god on Earth. When he makes his first real public appearance in issue #2, he is surrounded by camera phones and the whole shebang. As issue #3 rolls around, the world is beginning to react to what does this mean and who is this being? Thor's appearance captures the imagination of the world. People begin pondering what does it mean, is he a god. Over the montage of his adventures is the newspaper editorial of the world trying to come to grips of who is he and what he means for mankind.

Before we close out, I wanted to also hit on VALKYRIE, which does retell her origin, but also reintroduces the character. How are you approaching her and what has come before?

Bryan J. Glass: The history of Valkyrie is a very confused one. I'm sure there are fans who can chart every twist and turn, but [while] the heroine we know as Valkyrie has always been the body of the field maiden Brunnhilde, her soul has not always been within that body throughout the history of the Marvel Universe. When Valkyrie first appeared, fighting The Hulk, it was Enchantress inhabiting Brunnhilde's body. When Valkyrie appeared in DEFENDERS, it was the body of Brunnhilde inhabited by a mortal soul Barbara Norris. In the 90's, they introduced another human inhabiting her body, Samantha Parrington. So, when they gave me the assignment, I immediately asked which incarnation of Valkyrie Ed Brubaker is using in SECRET AVENGERS. The editor told me that he was going right back to Brunnhilde.

When J. Michael Straczynski brought Thor back, he introduced the dilemma Thor faced in that he found that all the Asgardian souls had been reincarnated into mortal bodies. But Thor did the math and realized that there were so many Asgardians that he didn't have enough time to individually seek out every Asgardian. He invoked the Odin power and did this big, cosmic, global lightning storm to awaken instantly every Asgardian on Earth. Thor's concern was about what would have happened to these Asgardian souls if their mortal bodies died. Thor awakened them all, but he never showed Valkyrie awakened. And the next thing you knew, there was Valkyrie fighting Red Hulk. So, there was my hook. We never saw the story of her resurrection. How is it different from all the other Asgardians? Well, I took the fear of what happens to those Asgardian souls if the mortal body dies? So our story begins with the murder of Valkyrie's mortal body.

To close everything out, there's only one question left and I think is the most important when it comes to Valkyrie: What is up with those pigtails?

Bryan J. Glass: [Laughs] As a 21st Century American male, I do not consider myself an expert on Norwegian culture and hereditary dress. It is one of the looks that is associated with the region historically. It's a fashion template of both mid-Western America and the Scandinavian, Swedish, Norway region.

Featured Posts on GeekTyrant