Esad Ribic Returns to THOR for New MARVEL NOW! Ongoing


Esad Ribic is no stranger to the Asgardians, having illustrated the Rob Rodi-written Loki miniseries in 2004, adapted last year as the Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers motion comic.

In the interim years, he's illustrated Uncanny X-Force, The Ultimates and multiple covers, including one for 2010's Astonishing Thor. So it's seemed almost inevitable that he would end up drawing a Thor ongoing series eventually, and now he is, starting in November with Thor: God of Thunder #1 — part of the high-profile "Marvel NOW!" revamp, and written by Wolverine and the X-Men's Jason Aaron.

"It's, at its best, mythology," Ribic told Newsarama of what keeps bringing him back to Thor. "I grew up on a steady diet of sci-fi and fantasy; was never really into superhero stuff."

The artist sees a significant distinction between those worlds, and says that the former typically offers more room for him to visually explore.

Thor & Loki:

Blood Brothers.

"To me, small differences in treatment make a world of difference, because non-superhero stuff allows — demands? — more mise-en-scène," Ribic said. "You build a world along with characters and that makes it all the more rich tapestry, more interesting for me to do, with a lot more creative freedom."

Ribic says that his approach to Thor and his world hasn't really changed all that much in the interim eight years since Loki, though he acknowledges that the new series is a very different entity.

"Obviously you've got to vary details according to the task ahead, you can't do a general audience book the same as a Marvel Knights book," Ribic said. "But there is more real estate to do something else in this, something that can't be done in a 100-page story. Difference of technique is a factor, too."

One major thing that has changed since 2004 is that Thor is now a feature film franchise seen by millions — but Ribic says that hasn't necessarily affected his take on the character.

"I always did him more 'filmic,'" the artist said. "I'd say it was romantic realism approach, and in the last couple of years the character moved in that direction anyway, so I didn't have to change the approach significantly. I hope we can pique interest in an wider audience with a thematic and generally visually approach that should be interesting."

  To that end, as first seen in the Joe Quesada-illustrated Marvel NOW! teaser image released last month, Thor has a slightly new look in the post-Avengers vs. X-Men era, designed by Ribic.

"We went for more of a 'warrior' look, and it'll be varied on a scene-to-scene basis," he said.

Given Aaron's stated plans for the series, that make sense — God of Thunder is set to star three different incarnations of Thor: One among the anicient Vikings, one in the present-day Marvel Universe, and one in the far future. 

"I based each look on different historical moments," Ribic said. "One is early Viking age (late antiquity), main one is late Medieval, and the old one approaches a Kirby sci-fi look."

Another element being introduced by Aaron and Ribic (who previously teamed on the Dark Reign: The List — Wolverine one-shot in 2009) is Gorr the God Butcher, a serial killer of immortal beings set to torment Thor throughout each era.  Ribic kept his comments on the new antagonist succinct.

<b>Astonishing Thor #1</b> (2010) cover. Astonishing Thor

#1 (2010) cover.

"Hope he scares the sh*t out of the readers."

Ribic is more apt to speak on the lofty visual legacy that Thor has had over the past 50 years — from Jack Kirby to Walt Simonson to recent work from the likes of Olivier Coipel and Pasqual Ferry — calling influence from these artists "unavoidable."

"It's not going to be tabula rasa, and has to be a part of the history of the character," he said. "I do hope we can make it distinct from the past at the same time."

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