Some days you want to sit down and write of your odd addiction to Glow, or your problems with Ready Player One on a philosophical level, or just wax gleefully about Paranoia and so on and so forth, and then Marvel release an omnibus of one of your runs and you end up writing a big ol' piece about it, and don't even cover half the stuff you want to.
I say “You” as I'm presuming my experience is universal. Clearly, thirty percent of people in the whole world are games journalists, and another fifty percent comics professionals. There are 4 billion people working in comics on this planet. I don't know what people worry about breaking in. The odds are on your side.
Once More, Into The Mystery
Points Of View
A Disturbance In The Force.
Curiaser and Curiaser
Out this week. 750 pages or so. If you’re feeling flush, get it from your comic shop or online retailer.
This pleased me. Young Avengers got a omnibus, but this is the biggest body of my Marvel Work put in an omnibus format. As it was always conceived as a novel to have it all between two thick covers is doubly pleasing.
I suspect Journey Into Mystery may be the book which most altered my trajectory as a writer. There’s a distinct before and after. It was certainly the first example of my specific Work-For-Hire tactic for my whole Marvel Universe period – namely, one book which leans populist and another which leans personal. Uncanny X-Men was me playing stadiums. Journey Into Mystery was me doing “Fuck it – no-one’s done a pop-Sandman in the Marvel Universe, so that someone may as well be me.”
Journey Into Mystery came after my oddly ever-expanding fill in run on Thor. It was originally meant to be five issues, but ended up being 11, plus two other tie-ins. I recall getting called by Alejandro to expand it for the final time and we laughed until we cried, and then we cried some more. Suffice to say, that year on Thor was came out hot, and when it was all over, I was able to sit back and contemplate the chaos a little.
Later, Editor Ralph Macchio asked if I had any ideas to do a sister book to Matt Fraction’s run on Thor. And, yes, I did. I wanted to do a Loki book.
My Thor run was basically a process of getting under Loki’s skin. At the start, I was writing him as the standard devious insecure sibling model. The more I wrote him, the more the perversity of Loki’s position got to me. This all came together in a Siege: Loki, with Jamie McKelvie (whatever happened to that guy?) which can be seen as the febrile Petri dish that Journey Into Mystery grew from. He’s the god of chaos, but can never change. That would make Loki seethe. I wanted to write that guy.
The book I originally conceived was very much that. A returned, almost Elric-styled SexLoki trying to work out a way to be anything else. Ironically enough, in my head it was a little closer to what Al Ewing ended up writing with his wonderful third-part-to-the-Loki Trilogy in Loki: Agent Of Asgard. But there was a curveball – Fraction’s plan to bring Loki back as a kid. I asked Matt when he’d be back as an adult, presuming it’d be at the end of Fear Itself. Matt says no. We’re keeping him as a kid, as long as we can.
You can imagine my eyebrow rise. Are you sure?
The second I started writing Loki as a kid, it instantly clicked. This was a great idea. Matt’s observation was that we never had any idea why Thor cared about Loki. To show Loki as this sweet, funny, smart boy is a way for us to understand why Thor doesn’t just hammer Loki’s head flat at the start of every god cycle. For my writing, it was a revelation. Pre-Journey Into Mystery I was a cold writer. I still am, to some level. My characters mostly wear masks, and I get emotion when that shell cracks. With Loki as a kid, I could write someone with all the wordplay, performance and deceit which I love, but also give myself permission to write emotions much nearer the surface. I could show his pain more, which undercut all his levity and lies with that fundamental sadness.
In other words, I could be a total heartbreaker. And lo, I was, and when I’d done it once, I got a taste for it.
I often get a lot of credit for Kid Loki, occasionally even to the level of people saying he’s my character. That’s not true, and Fraction deserves so much credit for the core of what makes Journey Into Mystery work. It was 100% his idea. He deserves even more than that, as there’s another reason why if it wasn’t for Matt, it’s unlikely anyone would be talking about Journey Into Mystery today.
Because without Matt, Journey Into Mystery doesn’t have its end, and its end is the reason why Journey Into Mystery is Journey Into Mystery.
After I’d already finished Manchester Gods, I was informed that JIM would be cancelled in three or four issues. I’ll be candid: I was distraught. I was distraught and angry with myself, because I’d done the classic error of getting too emotionally invested with characters which were not my own. My emotional contraceptives were pierced. A WFH creator is a nanny, not a mother, and the industry is full of horror stories of what happened to people who failed to realise that. If I was told before Manchester Gods, I may have been able to get to the conclusion in the space, but in those handful, it just was impossible. I started to piece together another ending, which would have been tragic and meta, a mixture of comic and bitter. I had the idea of a multidimensional congress of Leahs, who were all dying. If they fell beneath a set number, our reality would fail. The number of Leahs in the congress would be the final sales orders for whatever issue of Journey Into Mystery it was, so would fall from issue to issue as sales gradually declined. Which is a very me idea, but would also totally fuck us if sales went up.
I was talking to Matt about this, and he instantly suggested we merge our two books for the end of our runs. Some of his storylines (such as the Aesir/Vanir parts) were already interlinked with mine, and he could see that my story was constructed solely towards its ending. He wanted to ensure it happened. We pitched it to Marvel, and they said yes.
There’s many people – artists, editors, colourists, letterers, designers - who deserve thanks to for Journey Into Mystery, but for all their brilliance, they were doing their jobs. Matt deserves special thanks because this wasn’t his problem. I owe him enormously, as does anyone who’s ever enjoyed Journey Into Mystery.
Heh. I’ve written a thousand words and not even got to the serious parts of unpacking of what makes it work, and how it’s looked at, and where it took me next. It’s a weird book in many ways. I planned it to be resilient to crossovers, but I had no idea literally 75% of its run would be crossovers. Hell, 25% of this novel isn’t written by me, which makes the “By Kieron Gillen” a bit funny. Yet in this strange conditions, it holds together, and it mostly works, or so I’m told.
I don’t want to write a specific thank you to everyone who worked on it, but it’s brought more close personal friends than any other book. You know who you are, and thank you. I cherish you.
In the inside cover of Journey Into Mystery trades, I tend to write line I put in the back of the notes of our final issue: Write your own happy ending.
This omnibus is Journey Into Mystery’s.
Geesh. I wanted to write a bunch of other stuff this month, but that’s eaten all the time. Here’s the other big news…
I’m contributing to the FROM A CERTAIN POINT OF VIEW. Honoured and pleased to part of the project, which is for a great cause. For those who aren’t aware, it’s stories from the perspective of a character around A New Hope, of the events of A New Hope.
I believe this is my first prose short story that will actually be published, depending on when the second edition of Scion goes to print.
I feel naked.
We have an artist for the 1920s WicDiv special. They’re excellent. And I am teasing.
Oh – Jamie posted some work-in-progress inks for WicDiv 31, which goes to Image on Monday. He always works on the faces first.
I’ve just done a final polish of WicDiv 32 before writing this. Events in that issue include: Jamie killing me once he’s read it.
My first interview about Star Wars is live on Marvel.com. Loads of details herein, both about the first arc and the whole direction of the run. I started saying this…
…but honestly say a lot of actually useful stuff. Go see.
If you want to see me talk about some of this live, I’ll be on ABC News’ Inside Marvel tomorrow at 11am EST. Mumbling, intercontintentally. Imperial Phase, etc. I’m going to wear my skull jacket, just as I don’t have anything else clean.
Come say Hi if you see me generally. Nine Worlds is an interesting one, in that I’m there with my Kieron Gillen Writer hat slipping off my head, with my fan tufts well and truly showing.
What is a good metaphor? I do not know. I do not write good.
Quick plug - go nose at Robin Hoelzemann’s Curia Regis, whose first trade is on sale today. Smart quasi-historical fiction. You’ll like it, and you can read it online in its serialised version if you want a taste.
Right, that’s enough. Time to… actually, I forget what else I have to do. Maybe write some comics. That’s probably a good idea.