Alex Zalben: A Power Packed Trip Through Asgard

A comics interview article by: Charles Webb
With Siege coming down on the collective heads of the Marvel U, things are looking pretty dark for the Norse Pantheon. Enter writer and comedian Alex Zalben who's hoping to inject a little light and levity into his Thor meets the Power Pack mini, Thor and the Warriors Four.

Charles Webb: So, are you the guy who’s writing the “Power Pack gets the jump on Osborne and makes their own Siege of Asgard” story?

Alex Zalben: Ha! No, it’s “Thor and the Warriors Four,” which brings together Power Pack and Thor on an epic adventure that takes them from Earth to Asgard, fighting unspeakable evil, and having some fun along the way. Though there is some siege-ing in there, and quite a bit of Asgard.

CW: How did you come to Marvel’s attention and onto this project?

AZ: I do a lot of work in the New York comedy scene, including writing and performing with the sketch group Elephant Larry. My work there caught the attention of Marvel editorial and that all led to some pitches… And my ideas were rejected! I kept working at it until I ended up getting a gig, a back-up story in Hulk Team-Up #1. Then when super cool editor Jordan D. White, and fellow awesome guy Nate Cosby were looking for a way to bring together Thor and Power Pack, they asked me to pitch. I came up with some ideas, we bounced them back and forth, and history was made! Well, future history.

CW: Could you give our readers a rundown on your characterizations of the Power Pack in 4 words or less?

Katie – The baby.
Alex – The leader.
Julie – The brains.
Jack – The brawn.

CW: The storyline begins in somewhat dire territory with the Power kids attempting to save the life of their grandmother. What’s the tone of the series like?

AZ: You know, I think there’s a certain darkness and reality there that all the great Marvel stories have. But it’s using that as a springboard for a grand, epic adventure. There’s a killer squirrel in there, if that helps at all.

CW: What audience are you writing this book for?

AZ: I tried to write a story I would like to read, and I’m TWO THOUSAND YEARS OLD, so there you go. Actually, anyone can read it, kids and adults, because almost everybody has been through the death of a grandparent. Very few of us, however, regularly go into space, so there is that.

Also, a quick mention of the spectacular Gurihiru’s art… They have a really clean, almost cartoon cel style, but the emotion and acting they give the characters in this book is nothing short of stunning, it’s something that’ll really blow readers of all ages away.

This may be a good point to re-mention the killer squirrel.

CW: Why the Power Pack and Thor? Why now?

AZ: Nerd time! They have a long history together, stretching back to Thor #363, which was one of my first issues of Thor, by the great Walt Simonson. It’s also a way to make Gurihiru, who have drawn Power Pack so spectacularly, put on paper what I like to call “The League of Thors.” Trust me when I say it’s awesome, they knocked it out of the park.

CW: The story seems to touch on the mainline aspect of Marvel U Norse mythology (Thor, Asgard, etc.) as well as the ephemera (Beta Ray Bill, Frog Thor). How were you able to strike a balance that acknowledged the past while making it accessible to new readers?

AZ: You have to take those things and boil them down to their essential elements. You could spend pages running through Frog Thor’s whole history, or you can say he’s a Frog with the power of Thor. If you want to find out how that happened, there’s plenty of other great books to read, including Chris Eliopoulos’s fantastic Pet Avengers series(es). In fact, I felt the same way with Norse Mythology, which also plays a big part in the book. You can spend hours explaining, or you can use the bullet points to help emphasize the character’s journeys and decisions. It’s mythology, not factology. Though now I wish it was factology.

CW: What characters were standouts for you?

AZ: Frog Thor. Much apologies to the rest of the characters, but Frog Thor is awesome. He’s just a happy, wonderful Frog who talks like Thor. What isn’t great about that? Also, I love Jack and Katie, and there are some great moments with them in the series, but it was surprising to me that the real heart of the book is the relationship between Julie and Alex. Julie really comes into her own in this book, which, since Alex has always been the lead -- and the leader -- causes a bit of conflict.

CW: The most important question our readers probably want answered: what’s Volstagg’s role in the story going to be?

AZ: Sadly, kind of small, but he does appear briefly in Issue #2, and there’s a great cameo GuriHiru drew in Issue #3.

CW: What’s next for you at Marvel or comic work in general?

AZ: I have a few projects in the cooker right now that are far too early to talk about, but hopefully I can talk about those soon. Marvel-wise, hopefully you guys like Thor and the Warriors Four enough that we get to do my proposed sequel, Three Thors and a Little Lady, but only time will tell.


If you liked this interview, be sure to check out more of the author’s work at Monster In Your Veins

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