Thirteen years ago, Michael Avon Oeming and Mark Wheatley co-created Hammer of the Gods and through Image Comics released two mini-series and a handful of one-shot issues. After spending some time online, and getting their first trade reprinted at IDW, Hammer was shelved in favor of other projects. One of those projects turned into epic series The Mice Templar with writer/co-creator Bryan J.L. Glass and artist Victor Santos. With the recent release of the September Solicitations from Image, Hammer of the Gods is coming home to Image, as a back up in Mice Templar. We were lucky enough to not only discuss this return with Michael Oeming and Mark Wheatley, but also Bryan J.L. Glass about the future of Hammer of the Gods, what this means to the long running Mice Templar series and how these two are a perfect pair for people interested in Norse mythology.
All-Comic.com: For those that aren’t aware, tell us a little bit about Hammer of the Gods and Mice Templar.
Michael Oeming: Hammer began back in early 2000’s, right after Powers [with writer Brian Michael Bendis] launched. I actually created the designs and core ideas of Hammer and Mice around the same time, both of which Mark and Bryan took and gave real professional writing and co-creating life to. I wasn’t brave enough to touch writing until much later. This also goes back to when I was drawing Powers in a security guard booth at nights. Both are born out of my love of Mythology, specifically Norse mythology.
Mark Wheaetley: Hammer of the Gods is pure Norse mythology—but we tell the story of Modi. In the old tales, Modi is the name of the son of Thorr. Yet, in our telling, Modi is only Thorr’s son in spirit. He is born of mortal parents, sickly and weak. He only survives infancy due to the intervention of a wayward Valkyrie. She places a curse upon him that gives him great strength and will – but he is doomed to lose his soul if he ever touches a weapon. So, of course, he doesn’t get to play with the other Viking lads. And that is the brilliance of Mike’s creation. That basic conflict of nature has given us everything we need to keep spinning stories about Modi for a long time to come. Oh, how Modi struggles with his aggressive, fighting spirit. But he is forced to be smart and clever and so much stronger for it. And our stories are filled with battles and cataclysmic conflict! In fact, I believe Mike Oeming is the 2nd coming of Jack Kirby and Alex Toth, smash/slammed into one incredible storyteller. Mike was born to tell stories of the Gods.
Bryan J.L. Glass: The Mice Templar is a sprawling, epic coming-of-age saga in the tradition of high-fantasy: generic medieval setting, magic, prophecies, ancient evil stirring in the shadows of the world, and a hero called to set all things a’right. Although being well versed in centuries of tropes, we set out to use and manipulate the varied clichés of our genre to tell a tale that on the surface appears to be a classic adventure yarn, yet we’re also saying something valid and unique about the human condition, particularly when one is beset by the clash of war, oppression, cultural ideologies, race and gender politics, religion, family, responsibilities, expectations, and that general human illusion that should the rest of the world only behave the way you think best, we’d all be better off for it!
Whose idea was it to bring Hammer back as a back up in Mice Templar?
Michael Oeming: We are coming into the home stretch of Mice Templar’s epic storyline next year. Building into that, Bryan and I were discussing how we keep sales going strong on this 7 [2007- 2014] year running Image title. Bryan already had the stories locked up and while we are talking of doing some MT one-shots later, I thought this was a great opportunity to do fresh Hammer of the Gods stories and hope to bring in any Hammer readers into Mice Templar who may not have tried the series yet. I can only pop out a page once a week as I’m drawing Powers and United States of Murder Inc [Also with Brian Michael Bendis] at the same time that I’m writing and drawing the Victories! We are lucky enough to have our POWERS TV show in development as we speak and that too takes some time…. so I’m doing what I can while I can!
I remember Mike mentioned something about Odin being used in the MT world at the Calgary Expo a few months back, is there a direct connection between MT and HotG? Will we see Odin, or some version of, in Mice Templar?
Bryan J.L. Glass: Our use of Odin/Wodin/Wotan in The Mice Templar is significantly different from the Norse Pantheon portrayal, wherein the gods are more akin to their Greek predecessors engaged in supernatural soap operas while the cosmos rages around them (although to be fair, I’m fairly confident the Norse pantheon took the raging of the cosmos more seriously than the Greeks).
In Mice Templar, Wotan is a singular being with no contemporaries, offspring, nor genuine rivals. In Templar lore, Wotan is simple “Creator of All.” And in a universe that also has a Pantheon of gods that exist in the dream realm of Otherworld, Wotan is considered even there as the “God above gods,” as his dealings have little to do with the meddling of beings lower than himself.
To the creatures of our anthropomorphic world, both the sun and moon are referred to as the “eyes of Wotan,” the moon as the “Great Dimmed Eye” as they’ve a mythology involving their embodiment of evil as to why the cycles of the moon plunge the world into regular windows of darkness. But even for creatures who reference this, it appears more symbolic for something greater than themselves. Our Wotan is the Order of the World, and death is considered a natural part of that order. For most creatures the size of mice and rats, the greatest embodiment of death is the owl, the creature that abruptly swoops down from the sky and takes you to meet your maker. Thus the mice, rats, weasels, bats, etc. revere owls as angelic type beings. When Wotan chooses to manifest in a physical form, most creatures see that manifestation as a glowing white owl. Referred to as the “Great Death Owl of Wotan,” even that name gives pause as to whether or not this manifestation is truly Wotan himself or an avatar of sorts, and that’s an uncertainty we enjoy playing with, where vast cosmic forces cannot be easily comprehended by mortal beings.
Assuming this takes off again, is there more Hammer of the Gods planned with Image? Will we see the originals series get a much needed reprinting?
Michael Oeming: Nothing official yet, but we would love to collect Hammer Hits China and the one shots, which we never got around to. Maybe some completely fresh Hammer stories too! Right now, I’m just enjoying this moment and hoping we can attract some fresh readers to Mice Templar!
Mark Wheaetley: Mike and I already have been bouncing another epic Hammer story back and forth. As long as we can line up our schedules we will keep returning to Hammer of the Gods.
Bryan J.L. Glass: What a lot of readers don’t know is that Mike first brought the idea of HotG to me, as he would later bring Mice Templar, but I was so swamped in the world of Community Theater that I could barely catch a breath under the workload as it was. But I can say with no exaggeration, Hammer wouldn’t have been anywhere near as much fun under my leanings as it’s been with Mike & Mark! I love seeing them bringing back their unique magic yet again!
MICE TEMPLAR IV: LEGEND #14
STORY: BRYAN J.L. GLASS & MICHAEL AVON OEMING
ART: VICTOR SANTOS & SERENA GUERRA
COVER A: MICHAEL AVON OEMING
COVER B: VICTOR SANTOS & CHANDRA FREE
SEPTEMBER 24 / 56 PAGES / FC / T / $5.99
“KARIC THE MANY”
Possessed by the Red Ant god, Karic’s long-prophesied doom becomes reality as the would-be savior of the mice becomes an instrument of vengeance for the great demon lord Donas the Nathair! On the very brink of restoration, the Templar find themselves trapped between the insatiable hunger of The Many… and the unstoppable insect Guardians of the Dusk and Dawn!
PLUS…HAMMER OF THE GODS returns to Image Comics in a three-part story: “HANDS OF THE DWARF” by MICHAEL AVON OEMING and MARK WHEATLEY. The mythical Rattatosk the squirrel that lives in the World Tree provokes a war, and uses the cursed Modi to do it!