Thor's First Thunder

Bryan J.L. Glass talks about returning to the Thunder God’s earliest adventures in THOR: FIRST THUNDER

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THOR: FIRST THUNDER #1 cover by Jay Anacleto
By Marc Strom

Writer Bryan J.L. Glass and artist Tan Eng Huat transport readers back to the God of Thunder's earliest adventures in the five-part THOR: FIRST THUNDER, debuting this September. The limited series will focus on the link between Thor and his human alter ego, Doctor Donald Blake, as the two learn how to live with one another.

"In purely physical terms, the classic Donald Blake is the antithesis of Thor," remarks Glass. "Weak, frail, slight of build, lame in one leg, versus the power incarnate represented by Thor. In temperament, he is also an opposite, countering the early Thor's brash arrogance and bravado with a humble bedside manner befitting his position as a surgeon. If you have to go under the knife, you want Doctor Blake leading you under and drawing you back to consciousness again.

"However, in this tale, we are presenting a twist on the counter-balance of the two characters, exploring the dynamic and the intriguing relationship the two share that reveals why it was Blake who found the hammer in the first place. Blake and the Thunder God share something unexpected in common: Rage and fury. Blake has found a way to deal with his anger issues. Thor has not.

"Blake has channeled all of his internal issues into overcoming his physical flaws, working to achieve everything that comes so easily to the god he plays host to. This incarnation of frail Doctor Blake could probably kick the butt of most of the readers. He's a man with something to prove."

Glass' saga will draw heavily on Thor's initial stories in JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY while also expanding the world revealed in those pages.

"It is an inherently humbling task to be asked to reinterpret the work of such pioneers as Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby," relates Glass. "Truly, the first thought that crossed my mind after I was offered this

Donald Blake by Tan Eng Huat
assignment was: Who am I to follow in their footsteps? These are guys, and Thor is one of the characters, that have made everything I am doing in comics today possible. I was given the entire first year of Thor's appearances in JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY, and asked to cherry pick five issues worth of material that would lend [itself] to a new 21st century vision of Thor on Earth. How daunting is that? Of course that requires Thor himself, Doctor Blake, Nurse Jane Foster, Loki and an assortment of familiar Asgardian names. But then there are the Stone Men From Saturn, as the alien Korg is now an established member of the Marvel Universe and one of the Hulk's Warbound. Radioactive Man made his first appearance in these issues and he's most recently been a member of the Thunderbolts, and, if I'm not mistaken, has given assistance to the Mighty Avengers!"

Glass also chose his moments with an eye towards his artistic collaborator.

"There is so much archetypal Thor imagery crafted by Jack Kirby in these early issues to consider, [with] panels from 1963 that instantly invoke everything that we think of when someone mentions the name Thor," he says. "Thus I've strived whenever possible to script those quintessential moments for Tan to re-create."

Comparing the tone of FIRST THUNDER to the JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY stories, Glass describes his series as "definitely darker," though he quickly adds a qualification to that description.

"Please don't misinterpret that as in any way harkening this tale to the recent darkness that the Marvel Universe has just come through," he cautions. "This is a far more somber tale than the original 1963 adventures that acknowledges from the very beginning that Thor is on Earth in the first place because he's been banished by his father Odin for

Thor by Tan Eng Huat
his pride and arrogance. Thwarted pride and arrogance are ingredients in a recipe for anger and our Thunder God is definitely an angry god. He has not yet learned that lesson in humility his father intends; that lesson is what this arc is all about. Thor is not calling upon Odin at every opportunity as he did in his classic era, nor is he coming and going from Asgard with impunity. Our Thor has been 'denied the glory of Asgard,' and when you're an Asgardian, such a pronouncement needs to be felt. Our Thor wrestles with losing his birthright in the literal core of his soul."

In crafting his story, Glass looked to reshape Thor's first tales with the knowledge of everything the hero would later become.

"For me, what most consider to be the glory days of Stan & Jack's THOR isn't represented in those first 12 issues," explains the writer. "And yet, taken as byproducts of their era, one can still see the aspects of this classic hero that allowed him to rise above most of what else was being produced then, and what allowed him to join the ranks of Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four. So this was advantageous to me, approaching this early work knowing what the character would become in just a few short years. How this new interpretation could be less about my vision, and more about retelling these early adventures in such a way as to reflect the growth of Thor into the hero that everyone remembers so fondly and has such legions of devoted followers today."

A number of elements made Glass interested in reinterpreting Thor's origin for a new generation.

Korg by Tan Eng Huat
"It was an incredible experience to research through the stories and find the subconscious threads that could be brought to the forefront," he reveals. "In the end, this is a story about the consequences of pride, as revealed through Thor and Blake, and then echoed again in the troubled relationship between Thor and his half-brother Loki. And as this tale is set in the earliest days of the Marvel Universe, it was incredible to work in characters like Tony Stark before his own humbling experience that leads him to create Iron Man. One of my favorite scenes in this new series is when the prideful Thunder God, struggling to rein in his own pride, comes face-to-face with Stark, a mere mortal whose outrageous arrogance leads him to treat the Asgardian with condescension.

"The next aspect that intrigued me was exploring mankind's reaction to a god on Earth. The mere presence of Thor elicits a reaction from human beings. As Loki says in the new series, 'Mortals cannot help but feel awe when in the presence of divinity. It's innate. They're born with such comprehension. These humans will worship your power if only you demand it of them.' For a god whose biggest struggle is pride and arrogance, Loki offers the greatest temptation. And how Thor ultimately chooses to deal with that dilemma is what makes him a hero to inspire readers today."

Fans can also expect to see a number of familiar faces from Thor's regular supporting cast and rogues gallery, all filtered through Glass' and Huat's new interpretation.

"Loki is definitely the main antagonist, as he appears in all five issues to greater or lesser extent," promises Glass. "Loki [is] a character whom, when we first meet him, has been suffering a torturous imprisonment for literally centuries. When he escapes, he is driven by a profound

Loki by Tan Eng Huat
motivation for revenge that goes beyond his mere trickster persona. He reveals aspects of a genuine horror-based villainy. Yet scripting his mischief was a delightfully evil experience in that twirling-the-mustache way. Loki is a prince in his own mind, and carries out his deeds, from the smallest lie to the greatest Earth-shattering cataclysm, with a royal relish.

"The classic Jane Foster relationship is mildly reinterpreted, with her love for both Blake and Thor manifesting in two different ways. For the middle of the series, I chose the unlikely villain Sandu, Master of the Supernatural, and tied him into the Marvel Universe, and to the resonance of the overall tale, in a far more profound way than as that of a mere Carney mystic. I hope readers are surprised and pleased with how he ties into the larger theme of the story. But in the end, I've made Thor himself the greatest villain he must ever overcome."

Looking to his work in independent comics, Glass feels that much of what he's done has led him to FIRST THUNDER and given him a unique understanding of Thor's history and origins.

Thor by Tan Eng Huat
"These past seven years that I've been developing and then writing The Mice Templar has really prepared me, I feel, for tackling a project like FIRST THUNDER. Both projects have heavy mythology supporting their storytelling structure. And since Mice Templar relies so heavily upon Celtic and Nordic sources, it seemed a perfect proving ground to open the door to Thor."

 

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