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Thor: Wolves at the Gate

Mike Carey and Mike Perkins unite for a tale of demons and goblins in Thor: Wolves of the North

By Jim Beard

In anticipation of next summer’s “Thor” feature film, a bold new one-shot strikes comic racks this December 1, spinning an early adventure of Odin’s favorite son. THOR: WOLVES OF THE NORTH reunites the creative team of writer Mike Carey and artist Mike Perkins for a stormfront of heroes and monsters—Asgard style!

“The story is set in the dark ages, many centuries before Thor is banished to Earth by Odin and his adventures in the Marvel Universe begin,” says Carey. “Previously, we’ve seen glimpses of this time before, but it’s a long time period, and this particular story dates from a dark chapter in the history of Asgard, one where the Aesir are embattled and seemingly on the defensive, with the Rainbow Bridge under embargo and the connection between the realms severed.

“At this point Thor is dwelling mostly in Asgard with his fellow Aesir. He has a kinship with the Norse peoples, though—natural enough, since these are the people who actually worship the Norse pantheon. And within that, not to throw out any spoilers, he can form intense relationships with individual mortals.”

Artist Perkins reports that a character like Thor can serve to drive him visually through a story, and that this project in particular contains all he needs to stir his imagination.
“Thor has always been an interesting character for me, seemingly one step removed from the usual Marvel super hero due to his mythological roots but all the more powerful for that,” he explains. “For our tale I’ve chosen to produce an ‘evergreen’ Thor tale, one that could be placed anywhere within his history and yet still be relevant for today.

“To that end I’ve borrowed extensively on the imagery and backdrop of a Viking settlement, using the clothing and accessories of that age as a visual connection. It’s down-to-earth and yet Thor must still project a godly countenance; he still has to be larger-than-life.”

The immense champion demands an equally weighty adversary. In the case of THOR: WOLVES OF THE NORTH, the Asgardian’s old nemesis Hela, who Perkins calls “personification of the afterlife,” serves very nicely indeed.

“For a believer in the Asgardian mythos, death was not necessarily something to be feared—an afterlife of battle and carousing was something to look forward to after all—so I figured that, to a certain extent, she should be alluring, but deadly,” he continues. “It’s also important for me to keep definite basic elements of her established costume within the story we’re presenting. With the Hela in WOLVES OF THE NORTH, I’ve simply subtracted the volume of bodily coverage!”

“She’s dark, she’s devious, she’s scary and she’s sexy,” adds Carey on Hela. “I like that she can work by subterfuge or by open aggression; that she’s strong enough to fight hand-to-hand, and yet coldly intelligent enough to play the long game. She’s a formidable opponent for Thor.”

Perkins notes that the project sprung into being when he expressed an interest in taking a break from his stunning work on THE STAND. The Thunderer stood stately and tall on his list of characters to tackle.

“I figured that, seeing as I’m drawing everyday people in normal, albeit apocalyptic, surroundings day in and day out, a mightily muscled [warrior] within a barbaric tableau might be just the ticket,” he says. “But, the single most exciting facet of this story is, without a doubt, the chance to collaborate with Mike Carey again.  I love working with him as he always seems to bring out the best in me.  His stories are so beautifully constructed that it fires up a kind of competitive inferno within me, in order to somehow compete with his scripting.

“I asked for Mike on this project as I knew he’d be able to produce a fantastic Thor story.  I simply sent him a list of things I’d love to illustrate in the tale and Mike was able to turn my desires into the reality we see upon the page. That’s why we have Vikings, demon hordes and a sexy Hela!”

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