Thor: Thunder Down Under

Kieron Gillen takes Asgard's mightiest son to the land of the dead in THOR #611!

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THOR #611 preview art by Richard Elson
By Jim Beard

"This story is about trying to reclaim the possibility of a future," announces writer Kieron Gillen of THOR #611, out June 23 with art by Richard Elson. "If all Asgardians are doomed to be eaten by desperate, ravening monsters when they die, they don't have a future. This is about Thor wrestling with that possibility, trying to create the possibility of hope and having to cross Hell to do so. Because if he doesn't, being dead will be the least of the dead's problem; they'll be annihilated. Their forevers, forever gone."

After the cataclysmic events of Siege, the God of Thunder must for now suspend his protection of Earth and attend to those among his kind who fell honorably in the recent battle. But to where did their souls fly and who's watching over them?

"Those who read the SIEGE: LOKI special will know that with her true Hel presently inaccessible, Hela bartered for a new, temporary Hel to keep the Asgardian dead safe from those who'd predate upon them," Gillen explains. "This arc is about those measures completely failing. They're not safe after all. Someone should have read the fine print."

The tale that unfolds beginning in THOR #611 in part revolves around relationships and ties of one kind or another that bind such heroes as Thor to personages of both low and high character: Hela, mistress of the Norse dead, and Balder the Brave being examples, as well as Thor's late brother, Loki.

"Hela and Thor are normally seen as enemies," says Gillen. "Here, their interests overlap. Neither want the dead annihilated and they're forced to

THOR #611 preview art by Richard Elson
work together to do so. In fact, Hela has to come in utter desperation to them. She needs Asgard's help. Due to the situation, they can only send a couple [warriors], so they send Thor and Tyr. Asgard's biggest gun and the one god who's had experience fighting those that are threatening the dead.

"Thor-and Balder, for that matter-are conflicted. As we saw in THOR #610, they really haven't truly grasped what Loki was up to. He brought Asgard crashing down, yet he also saved them. There's still much [about] Loki's actions which the Asgardians don't know. He's kept them hidden, even beyond the grave. This arc features a few more of them creeping into the light."

The God of Thunder, legendary throughout the Marvel Universe as a champion of life, strikes Gillen as a character who represents a "rarity" among others he's written.

"[Thor is] a true 100% hero," he asserts. "He's the greatest hero of the Aesir, a race of godly heroes. This carries enormous responsibilities. He's who everyone measures themselves against, and through the Siege arc, we saw how all the Asgardians tried to live up to the shadow of Thor. Living up to Thor's shadow isn't any easier when you're Thor himself, and that's my way into him. Thor simply can't allow himself to be a little weak. Even if he isn't the leader of Asgard, he's their hero. When things are as bad as they are, he can't allow himself to even budge an inch. Thor falls and whatever's left of Asgard's spirits falls too.

THOR #611 preview art by Richard Elson
"My personal way of looking at heroes isn't just about power. It's about sacrifice. It's not measured by whether you win. It's what you'd risk giving away to achieve that. There's a lot of that in this story."

The writer's plan for the story also involves a duality in Thor's role, which changes depending upon his locale and its particular nature.

"Hel is currently situated in a little of Mephisto's Hell," Gillen notes. "Thor's journey takes him both to this temporary Hel and the true-Hell of Mephisto. In one place, he's the last defender. In the other, he's a questing knight, a pilgrim seeking redemption for his people. As you can imagine, Hell doesn't have much time for either knights or pilgrims."

When the reader finishes this arc, Gillen believes his purposes will ring out, like a hammer to an anvil, as well as his metaphors of life and death and the pursuit of each.

"Metaphors are awesome," he enthuses. "And metaphors involving epic, metal-album-cover rampages across the afterlife are my favorite metaphors."

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      3 comments
      GammaCosmic
      GammaCosmic

      I think I will jump back on and start reading this series.

      spidergreen12
      spidergreen12

      art is pretty good,but i wish gillen would stay on thor permentaly,fraction is a great ironman and xmen writer but i dont think he would do the same with thor