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By Tim Stevens
All of the Merry Marvel Marching Society knows Thor the super hero-the all noble, all blond, all "have at thee" Avengers powerhouse who often spends his free time in a human guise bonded to him by his father Odin as a lesson in humility.
However, as jobs goes, "super hero" represents a fairly recent addition to Thor's resume. Prior to that, for many, many years, Thor only concerned himself with being the Norse God of Thunder. For THOR: AGES OF THUNDER writer Matt Fraction, this period of the Asgardian's life, just prior to Odin's decision to send Thor to Earth as Donald Blake, made him feel, "free to tell whatever Thor story I could conjure, free of past continuity or current editorial missions. I could just kick out the jams."
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At the point where the story begins, Thor finds himself facing down the reality that the Norse era has long since passed. As a result of this ever-weakening influence on the events of mankind, Thor, according to Fraction, "[is] disconnecting from his humanity and from his understanding of humanity." This disconnect influences his perspective on mankind as well.
"[His attitude is] becoming increasingly more contemptuous," explains the writer. "Some of it is earned; some of it is misdirected rage inspired by his fellow gods and their decadence."
Despite this unfamiliar attitude, the Thor on display in AGES OF THUNDER still possesses the trappings of a hero that the Marvel Universe has come to know and love. At his core he remains, Fraction stresses, "a living thunderstorm [with] flashes of genius,
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great rumbling rage, uncontrollable and unpredictable; life-giving and world-ending, all depending on what way the wind blows." As such, AGES OF THUNDER incorporates the essential elements of a powerful Thor tale. Fraction summarizes those elements as "scale, the hammer, and never, ever losing sight of the fact that he's a god, not a man that gets to be a god."
In other words, bonded to a human or not, being a champion continues to be a key component of the Odinson. He continues to be noble, seek challenges, and engage in battles to save those he cares about. Over thinking these matters still holds little interest to him, as well. As Fraction points out, most of the time Thor hits things with Mjolnir "because he wants that stuff to fall down." The analysis need not extend beyond that point.
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Thor's fellow denizens of Asgard during this period reflect this recognizable but altered reality.
"They're sort of same but different," notes Fraction. "Friends are friends, foes are foes. The archetypes remain, regardless of era. And each era's Asgard and Asgardians have a different feel. The nature of Norse myth is cyclical, and each chapter exists in a different cycle."
In the end, Fraction hopes his "remixing [of] the actual myths with the Stan [Kirby] and Jack [Kirby] stuff" helps him to create a quintessential Thor moment. In reference to that moment, the writer will only say, "You'll know it when you see it-'My son returns
THOR: AGES OF THUNDER, the first of three one-shot specials written by Matt Fraction and featuring art from Patrick Zircher, strikes down on April 30. For more Thor, check out Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited.