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Tuesday Q&A

Friday Q&A: Everything Burns

Matt Fraction, Kieron Gillen and Lauren Sankovitch count down to the Mighty Thor/Journey Into Mystery crossover!

Journey Into Mystery #642 preview art by Carmine Di Giandomenico

By Jim Beard

Even the fabled Nine Realms, beyond space and time, may fall under the ravages of battle. Only now, news reaches us of the darkest moment in Asgard’s past, the Aesir/Vanir War, a conflict so horrible that knowledge of it became lost for eons. What started it? And what bearing does it have on Asgardia today?

Matt Fraction lit the match on Everything Burns in this month’s MIGHTY THOR #18 and Kieron Gillen fans its flames in JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #642, out August 29. Over the next three months they, together with editor Lauren Sankovitch, will weave a tale of mystery, treachery and all-out war through the two books that will bring a fiery close to the modern saga of Thor and his brother Loki.

Marvel.com: Lauren, let’s start at the beginning: what’s the genesis of Everything Burns?

Lauren Sankovitch: Once we had a rough idea when Matt and Kieron’s respective runs were coming to a close, these guys put their heads together and figured, instead of two separate stories why not tell one giant, world-rending, realm-sweeping fireball of a crossover. I concurred.

Marvel.com: Matt, where’s Thor standing, in body and mind, as he heads into Everything Burns?

Matt Fraction: Exhausted. It's been a long road since the end of Ragnarok and piece by piece his world has been upended. This is one more thing when he really isn't ready for one more thing. And war, on the scale Kieron and I have cooked up, is the last thing he or Asgardia needs.

Marvel.com: Kieron, likewise, where's Loki's head at as this begins? What will his current scheming potentially bring him?

Journey Into Mystery #642 preview art by Carmine Di Giandomenico

Kieron Gillen: With the possible exception of the very end of Fear Itself, it's as bad as it's ever been since his resurrection. While he's always been in a precarious situation, he'd managed to build a stable little life. Yes, he was being blackmailed into being Asgard's secret weapon, but he kinda liked doing that, and at least it gave him purpose. Thor was alive! He had a best friend! He had a life.

Now, as a consequence of all the deals he's made, he's lost his friend. He's alone again. And he can't confide in his brother, because that'd mean telling him everything else he's been doing. So yes, it's a bad place. But Loki is a stoic little thing. He feels he's competent. He can handle this.

Everything Burns proves Loki wrong, pretty much straight from the off.

Marvel.com: With that in mind, how would you describe Thor’s current relationship with Loki, Matt?

Matt Fraction: Complicated, as always. The whole of the mission with Kid Loki was to give readers and the whole of the Marvel-Norse mythos, the Loki of the Norse Saga—that is, the Loki that Thor loved as a brother, the Loki that made Thor laugh, the Loki that, when his tricks and schemes passed well into the wicked, brought abject heartbreak and ruin. In the Norse cycles, Loki breaks your heart. But in the Marvel-Norse stuff, he already took his heel turn and while profound and formidable, we never got to see the real tragedy at play; that once upon a time, Loki was everybody's favorite. Anyway, the idea was that Thor was literally the only being in the Nine Realms that could forgive Loki literally everything and would resurrect him believing that, given the chance, he could succeed where Odin had failed and raise the boy up right and true, and he, Thor, could show all of us the charming, funny, clever boy he knew and loved as a brother, once upon a time.

So clearly Kid Loki has been testing the hell out of that and Thor, for his part, has really burned through whatever favors they of the Nine Realms may have owed him. Now we're at the end: the end of my time with the character, the end of Kieron's time, the end of what we had to say about them all. It's literally all been building to this. Everything Burns is the final crucible.

Journey Into Mystery #642 preview art by Carmine Di Giandomenico

Marvel.com: Kieron, what’s your take on that brotherly dynamic?

Kieron Gillen: At the moment, it seems actually pretty good. Loki has been acting relatively well, thinks Thor. Thor doesn't know what Loki's been doing on the down low –deals with Mephisto, precipitating a civil war between the Fear Lords, deals with Hela, causing the traditional powers of Otherworld to be overthrown and—most immediately relevant: being the person responsible for the escape of Surtur from his prison. If Thor found out about any of that, I dare say it may strain their relationship.

Marvel.com: As a writer, where does all of Loki’s evil come from within you? How do you get into his head, so to speak?

Kieron Gillen: For all characters I dig into myself, and try and find where we're similar. And there's probably more of Loki in me than many of the characters I write. Loki is my smart-arse scheming part. It's the part of me that's attracting to games; the positioning of pieces, their annihilation and mastery. The part of me that thinks what I'm good at isn't being good, and is both scared and proud of that. The part that likes winning but doesn't want to raise a fist to do so. The part that says something funny to cover up a feeling that isn't funny at all.

Basically, JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY is a monthly reminder of why it's a bad idea to play any manner of board game with me.

Marvel.com: Matt, what makes the first Aesir/Vanir War the darkest time in Asgard’s past? And how will this second war top even that?

Matt Fraction: Well, historically, it's a big chunk of the Norse cycle that's just been lost. The Marvel-Norse myth, however, has no duty to its source and has been pretty freely rewritten over the years. One of the biggest missing components to the Marvel-Norse stuff is, quite frankly, the women; for whatever reasons, whereas women are extraordinarily vital and important in the original cycles, they've been kind of shunted off to the sides over here. Of course there are exceptions, and important ones at that, but these merely prove the rule rather than right the wrong.

Journey Into Mystery #642 preview art by Carmine Di Giandomenico

Anyway I started wondering if I could tie the two together: the legendary lost Aesir/Vanir War, and a boys vs. girls story that would explain the Marvel-Norse patriarchy. And so here we are. This new flare-up, pardon the pun, is a proxy war waged by Surtur; a war hidden inside a war, bigger and bloodier than anything. Even Ragnarok is simply a cycle's end and rebirth—but this is the end of everything, the very extinguishing of light and life in the universe.
Marvel.com: If Thor fears anything the most in this story, what would it be? And how will it help him grow?

Matt Fraction: Losing everything because he was wrong about Loki. And it won't help him grow; Thor's fear cripples him at the worst possible time.

Marvel.com: And Loki’s greatest fear, Kieron?

Kieron Gillen: Loki's prime fear remains what it always was: that he's exactly what everyone else thinks he is. He's a destroyer, a chaos-bringer.

Marvel.com: Lauren, as an editor, what’s been the most rewarding aspect of this collaboration between you, Matt and Kieron?

Lauren Sankovitch: Like I said, these guys came to me with the idea of crossing over the two books. They each had itches they wanted to scratch before they were finished with Asgard’s most infamous sons and it turned out that the stories they wanted to tell meshed frighteningly well. As they had already collaborated on multiple occasions, they jumped into the whole enterprise with aplomb. It’s been really great—and often hysterical—to see these guys play off of one another and just tell a really fun, smart tale with characters they have obvious affection for. Often to an unhealthy degree.

Marvel.com: Gentlemen, what’s been the best part of your collaboration with each other on Everything Burns?

Matt Fraction: Getting to bask in the amazingly rich and wonderful world Kieron's carved in JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY.

Mighty Thor #19 preview art by Alan Davis

Kieron Gillen: Matt and I have collaborated a few times, and every time is different. This is the tightest one. Lots of very long international Skype calls, chewing over the possibilities, trying to get as much of what we wanted into the stories, working out if there's actually any way to get this into the issues available. The answer is yes. Just about.

The best thing is just the magical moment when we saved each others' arses. That story is more than either of us.

Marvel.com: What’s it been like for both of you working with the legendary Alan Davis, artist on MIGHTY THOR #18-21 and JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #642?

Matt Fraction: He's a legend! I’ve just tried not to offend or annoy him. I’ve loved his work from the first time I saw it. I love it still.

Kieron Gillen: It should be Sir Alan Davis, I think. The knighthood is overdue.

Marvel.com: Kieron, you’re also working with artist Carmine Di Giandomenico on this story…

Mighty Thor #19 preview art by Alan Davis

Kieron Gillen: I've worked with Carmine a couple of times now—a Namor one-off story and the pop-cultural/pop-feminist collision that was Exiled—so I think we're getting used to each other. And I owe Carmine so much for this. Put aside his incredible speed, the complete strangeness of his fantasy landscape and the sheer kineticism of his combat—I especially love how he implies the power of Thor's hammers; have a look out for that one –he's been ridiculously gracious. I've been a terrible clucking hen of a writer on this one, as it's the climax of something I've been planning for years, and he's done every impossible, ludicrous thing I've asked for.

If I had a daughter, he could have her hand in marriage.

Marvel.com: To your mind, Lauren, how does Everything Burns best celebrate Thor’s 50th anniversary?

Lauren Sankovitch: As this is the culmination of both Matt’s run on MIGHTY THOR and Kieron’s on JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY, the whole story itself is pretty, well, epic. It literally spans all Nine Realms and will, really, truly, have a real impact. I swear. Honest. Aside from that, I just hope everyone enjoys the Hel out of it. Matt, Kieron, Alan, Carmine, Mark, Javier, Chris, Clayton, Barry and Stephanie made it just for you.

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