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Al Ewing wants Immortal Thor to surpass his epic Immortal Hulk run: ‘I have to try’

‘It was basically a self-challenge. Can I do a book like that again? Can I do my end of it better this time?’

This August, writer Al Ewing will take the reins on Marvel Comics’ god of thunder with Immortal Thor #1. For fans of his blockbuster series Immortal Hulk, that title immediately raises eyebrows. Ewing’s Hulk ran for 50 riveting, horrifying, smashing issues, climaxing with a story in where Hulk traveled through the hell of hells to force God to explain why bad things happen.

Naming an Al Ewing project “immortal” is no subtle thing. Speaking to Polygon via email, Ewing said the book’s title is his version of throwing down a gauntlet. If he has his way, Immortal Thor won’t just equal Immortal Hulk, it will surpass it.

“Putting [Immortal] on a book I’m writing is a promise to the reader, and to myself,” Ewing wrote. “I was the one who pitched the title — not editorial, not anyone else — and it was basically a self-challenge. Can I do a book like that again? Can I do my end of it better this time? I have to try, because the alternative is just lie down and let the grass grow where I fell.

“I want to take another swing at that ball, and this time, I don’t just want to knock it into the outfield, I want to hit it right out of the park and stroll calmly around the bases. I want to write something that goes as far and as hard and as powerful as the other book did, to give a similar experience to the people who supported that book and supported me through it and took something deep out of it, but with the benefit of experience.”

“In Norse myths, they called him Thunderer,” says Marvel Comics’ official solicit for Immortal Hulk #1. “Vuer has he been called, and Hloriddi. The Gods know him as Asgard’s King, keeper of Mjolnir, hero of the tales. When injustice grips the Earth and ancient powers bring down the sky, he fights for those who cannot — and when the tale is done, we will know what that cost him. This is the story of THE IMMORTAL THOR.”

“Doors are indeed opening,” Ewing wrote, when we asked if he could share anything about the story of Immortal Thor that didn’t make it into the solicit, “buried secrets are waiting to be unearthed, and ancient gods — elder gods, if you will — are coming to bring trial and sorrow to Earth, Asgard and Thor personally, and he’s going to need to be his absolute highest self to face them. And even then, he might not make it through. The omens are sinister. The storm is at the gate.”

Ewing wants readers to grok that Immortal Thor will be a book of a similar tune to Immortal Hulk, but sung in the key of Thor.

“Hulk was horror and tragedy,” he told Polygon, “but Thor tacks more toward fantasy and hope. Bruce Banner is fractured by his origin, going through a hell of his own making to gain the power of a monster — Don Blake becomes the person he truly is inside, and in so doing, gains the power of a god. (An unconventional god! Long hair in the early ’60s was more of a flex than we might credit, though I do remember Jane fantasizing about giving him a haircut.) To put my biblical hat back on for a second — if IMMORTAL HULK was the Old Testament, IMMORTAL THOR is the New Testament.”

Thor flies through the heavens, his might hammer in his hand, lit with an eldritch light on the cover of Immortal Thor #1 (2023). Image: Alex Ross/Marvel Comics

As for Immortal Hulk’s Hulk-sized length, Ewing says he already has a “rough map” to Immortal Thor #50, and hopes the series can go on even longer. He is is joined on the book by artist Martín Cóccolo (Deadpool) on interiors and Matt Wilson (Thor) on colors. Just as with Immortal Hulk, legendary painter Alex Ross will be providing cover art for each issue. Ross consulted on Thor’s costume design for the series — “a new take on ‘Kirby Classic,’” as Ewing put it.

“Alex really wanted to connect with the energy of Jack Kirby’s original design,” Cóccolo told Polygon via email, “and he also thought that revisiting Kirby’s costume was fitting with the concept of Immortal Thor.” The artist couldn’t say much about what he’d been working on without spoilers, simply saying that he was enjoying turning the pages on Ewing’s script without knowing what would happen next, to “let Al cook.” He wanted to assure readers that he was “making Al’s story as beautiful and as powerful as I possibly can.”

Readers looking forward to Immortal Thor will want to pick up Marvel’s Thor Annual #1, hitting stands on July 5. That issue will have a bridging story, linking the end of the current Thor series — written by Torunn Grønbekk (Mighty Valkyries) and drawn by Juan Gedeon (Jurassic League) — to Immortal Thor’s starting point. That said, Ewing noted that new readers will find it easy to pick up Immortal Thor #1 and start reading.

“Thor has risen to the role of All-Father of Asgard,” Ewing told Polygon, “so in addition to his own power, he now has the Odin-Power of his father, which he’s learning his way around. (Odin had a lot of time to practice, and the “Thor-Force” has its own rules that Thor’s learning.) In recent times, he questioned his worthiness for the role, and the role of God of Thunder, and that made for some amazing stories — but those stories have been told, and we’re telling a new one from where they ended. Thor holds the hammer. Thor is the King. Now we see how the King of the Gods responds to king-size challenges.”

Immortal Thor #1 will hit shelves on August 23.

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