Thor Without Borders

THOR writer J. Michael Straczynski talks about the Thunder God's involvement with the Doctors Without Borders organization in issue #4 of his ongoing series as well as the new take on the character. Also, check out Olivier Coipel art from THOR #4.

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By Ben Morse

THOR #4 cover by
Olivier Coipel

In the real world, impoverished nations like Darfur that have been torn apart by years of civil war don't have heroes with billowing capes and amazing powers swooping down to save their weary people. However, that doesn't mean they don't have heroes of another kind, such as Doctors Without Borders, an international organization of doctors, nurses and other medical personnel who travel to countries in need of aid and training. In THOR #4, on sale November 14, writer J. Michael Straczynski, with the help of artist Olivier Coipel, continues to take the Thunder God and his alter ego Dr. Donald Blake to the most extreme points on the planet in search of the lost Asgardian gods as Blake finds himself recruited by Doctors Without Borders.

THOR #4
interior art by
Olivier Coipel

"In reviving Thor, I wanted Dr. Donald Blake to be something more than an encumbrance, I wanted him to have his own arc, his own strength of personality, [and] to be more active," explains Straczynski. "Putting him into organizations like Doctors Without Borders is a way to put him in places and situations where his story is his story, and he can be pursuing a valuable goal." This marks the second consecutive issue in which Straczynski has placed Thor in a setting reflecting major tragedy not caused by supervillains or any other imaginary device, as THOR #3 saw the Asgardian journey to New Orleans, still ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. The writer feels these missions contribute to a new kind of Thor.

THOR #4
interior art by
Olivier Coipel

"In this iteration, Thor will be far more a god of the people, the average guy on the street, than someone involved in high-level government activities," promises Straczynski. "I [also] wanted to put him in a position where he could not technically win, despite his great strengths. Some things cannot be solved with a hammer. It's something that's good for him to know, that even he can't solve everything." In addition to giving Thor additional depth, Straczynski hopes to expand the tapestry of the Marvel Universe by infusing locations that exist and matter in today's headlines.

THOR #4
interior art by
Olivier Coipel

"The strength of the Marvel Universe always has been [that] it operates in the real world," contends the writer. "That real world is not confined to the United States, it reaches out and penetrates everywhere." Sending Thor into situations like these and involving him with a

THOR #4
interior art by
Olivier Coipel

group such as Doctors Without Borders continues Straczynski's mission statement to make THOR a book that can be enjoyed by fans of the character's classic adventures, but also something more. "We invoke the gods when all else fails and the darkness is closing in, and that's the moment when Thor should make his appearance," the writer concludes. "There will be plenty of [fights] with massive villains—a classic Thor bad guy makes his appearance in the next issue—but Thor's intent is to focus on those without a voice. That is, I think, what any self-respecting god should do." For more information on Doctors Without Borders, visit their official web site.
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