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Thor and Thunderbolts: Beginning the Siege

Kieron Gillen and Jeff Parker take the Siege to THOR #606 and THUNDERBOLTS #141

By Marc Strom

Come February 24, two new combatants enter Siege. First, in THOR #606, writer Kieron Gillen and artist Billy Tan bring the God of Thunder home to defend Asgard against Norman Osborn's onslaught; then, in THUNDERBOLTS #141, Jeff Parker and artist Miguel Sepulveda call in Osborn's secret, super-powered weapons for a mission only they can accomplish.

Siege, which brings Osborn's Dark Reign to a crescendo, also marks Thor's re-entry into the affairs of the larger Marvel Universe. But according to Gillen, even if Norman hadn't mounted his latest bid for power, the Thunder God would have gotten involved eventually.

"I suspect if anyone had actually come to him with the problem, he'd have done something," remarks Gillen. "Thor is nothing if not noble. Norman's rule is nothing but ignoble. He'd have to try. The problem is really

THOR #607 pencil art by Billy Tan
communication. That's the thing about the big three [Thor, Captain America, and Iron Man] being so separate is that a lot of the things which would have naturally drawn Thor in weren't there.

"Thor is a large scale guy. He'll be aware of tidal waves, country-wrecking storms and cosmic apocalypse, but it's not in his nature to look at [the] quieter corruption which has been at the heart of the Dark Reign. Now that corruption has come calling [and] it's made itself all too clear. Thor's got to act."

Thor received a rather harsh beating at the hand of Norman's Avengers in SIEGE #1, and as such is due for "a nice lie down and a few painkillers," according to Gillen.

"Clearly, he'll be spending the rest of Siege recuperating. Thor's battles are, for me, the absolute core of Siege. After people see what Brian [Bendis] is doing in the main SIEGE series, I suspect they'll see that."

Because of that, Gillen will focus on some of the ramifications of the larger battle.

"Since Thor's so busy with the main series, these issues are ending up mainly about the actual effect of Siege, from the inside. It's where we see the emotional and physical impact of this epic assault on the Asgardians; Heimdall dealing with not actually fulfilling his duty; Volstagg trying to work the most honorable way out of the situation; Tyr finding himself not the god he thought he was; Balder suspecting it's all his fault; And Loki knowing it is.

"Point being, it's about people looking up to Thor. It's about everything that happens in that gravity well around him. Everyone knows they're not Thor, and has to deal with that. They exiled the guy, and he's still fighting to save them. We get the Asgardians' perspective on the biggest fights in Siege, and their responses to it."

Gillen's upcoming arc marks the first time the writer has participated in a larger, line-wide event, an experience he says he's found "fascinating."

THOR #607 pencil art by Billy Tan
"Like any comic reader, you spend a lot of time wondering how something like this actually works," notes Gillen. "And it works pretty much like I expected to. As in, a team of craftsmen trying to assemble an intricate clockwork watch, while it's still running. The number of e-mails I've bounced around to make sure Volstagg alone is consistently positioned is somewhat overwhelming. But it's fun. It's oddly like the work I've been doing in my indie book, Phonogram-as in, through multiple perspectives and storylines created to dovetail with the main thrust, you try and create something with, for want of a less pretentious phrase, a symphonic depth.

"It's a fractured view of an enormous event, and the more you read, the more you hold the whole thing inside your head-though if you read any single part, you still get an operational story. That's what I mean by the symphonic thing, that if you follow one book, you get a pleasurable refrain, but if you read more, you see how they quietly interact to create something larger than the individual pieces. It's a fascinating technical challenge."

The Asgardians will have more than just Osborn to contend with, as the clone of Thor, Ragnarok, makes his return.

"Ragnarok is the wild card," warns Gillen. "He's not part of Norman's forces. He's here on his own mission. He wants to kill Thor, sure, but it's not just Thor he wants to kill. What does he want? 'Ragnarok'-the name's a clue, isn't it? Thor is the only person who could stop him. The problem being, he's not the one who is trying to stop him."

Meanwhile, in THUNDERBOLTS #141, Jeff Parker assembles Osborn's team of not-so-reformed villains for a very special mission.

THUNDERBOLTS #141 pencil art by Miguel Sepulveda
"Courtesy of the God of Mischief, Loki, Norman Osborn has learned of a game-changing weapon that could essentially be his Mjolnir, but without that whole 'worthiness' qualification to use it," the writer explains. "This latest version of the Thunderbolts is highly geared for stealth missions and is his natural choice to get into the Asgardian armory and retrieve that weapon.

"Of course, Norman has now been so busy setting up other teams that he's more directly involved with, that he's largely dictating orders to the T-Bolts in recordings, and so hasn't noticed little developments, like the fact that the team leader Scourge has killed one of the team. And another, Ghost, snuck off to cause trouble with Iron Man. And you know, it's attention to details that I think makes the difference!"

While this incarnation of the team has experienced a lot in their short existence, Siege will mark a clear line in the sand for the group.

"This is the big divider-this puts the team back into the realm of being seen and up against a force of a whole other scale," Parker points out. "The only one who is willing to say that he's afraid is Ant-Man, but that's just because he's the most honest about such things. They are largely only together through intimidation and now we'll see how that works in the face of such a big moment. The one major edge they've had for a while now is absolute secrecy, but the cat is out of the bag-and the Mighty Avengers race in to try to stop this operation."

Once the dust settles, Parker promises that Siege will change "everything about the book. You're going to see some surprising additions to the team-people you've heard of!

And one member will be returning, just one."

THUNDERBOLTS #141 pencil art by Miguel Sepulveda
Before that, however, the current team will have a lot to contend with.

"If you like stories that have major comeuppance, you're going to definitely see some of that!"


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      Kudos to Marvel for featuring prominently a morbidly obese Norse god in this latest crossover. Truly an inspiration for McAmerica. Fat people have it so rough what with their leper-like social status and glaring health problems that it's refreshing to see a positive fat role model such as Volstagg who teaches children that not only is it acceptable to be overweight but that no harm will come of it. After all, Volstagg has all the jolliness of Santa Claus and none of the diabetes or heart disease.Does Marvel ever receive hate mail from Wilform Brimley?


      These are absolutely AMAZING!!! I haven't been this excited about anything in Marvel since "House Of M". Mr. X vs an Asgardian. I love how the Marvel universe is now even more connected than ever. I would have never in a million years thought this was going to happen when he showed up in "Wolverine: Origins". The Marvel writers and artist once again showed why it's called the HOUSE OF IDEAS!!!