I met Torunn Grønbekk in a tiki bar.

Since she’d journeyed there all the way from Norway, I expect the spirit of Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl and his 1947 Kon-Tiki expedition was somehow swirling in the air that day, mystically leading Torunn into the Polyneisan Bar in Midtown Manhattan during the week of New York Comic Con.

Either that, or it was her friend, the artist John McCrea. Who I’d first met years before at the Avilés Comic Book Festival in Northern Spain. Where I’d won the coveted Brian Azzarello award for… best bald head, maybe? Never sleeping? I forget.

But anyway, I was at the tiki bar that night because over the years of traveling from one comic con to another all over the country, I’ve become quite the connoisseur of tiki bars (thanks to my friend Jame Sime of the Isotope comic book shop in San Fransciso, who was my tiki Jedi-master). And that particular evening in 2018 turned out to be an epically fun night of tiki festivities, featuring guest appearances from some of my favorite people in comics.

Including Torunn. Who would rather quickly become one of those favorite people. And that was before I’d ever read her work. Once I did, she also became something else: one of my favorite comic book writers.

And now I’m incredibly happy to be a part of Torunn’s Marvel Comics debut, in the pages of VALKYRIE: JANE FOSTER #8.

Jane Foster holds a very special place in my heart. And I imagine she always will. I think you can tell from the way her image decorates the walls and shelves of my office. Jane’s time as Thor remains one of the stories I’m proudest of from throughout my career, and it continues to elicit the most heartwarming and moving responses from fans of anything I’ve ever been a part of in my creative life. And eventhough her time as Thor is done (until we see her on the big screen, that is) I’m glad to still be a part of guiding Jane’s story and sending her off on all sorts of all-new adventures.

The idea for Jane to take over the role of the last of the Valkyries spun out of my WAR OF THE REALMS event, and then writer Al Ewing took those threads and did wild and amazing work on the first seven issues of the new VALKYRIE series. Once Al needed to step aside, well who better to bring into the world of Marvel’s Asgard than a writer whose name literally means “To love Thor.”

Torunn brings a deeply original voice to this series and to Jane herself, as a well as an innate knowledge of Norse mythology (from what I can tell, she basically grew up as a Viking, with the photos to prove it). And you can see all that at play in the arc that begins in VALKYRIE #8, the story of Øde, a fallen king of old, and the ancient, mysterious power that corrupted him, the dark, unstoppable might of the Rokkva. It’s a story that brings Valkyrie and Thor together for the first time since Jane took her new identity, and also features some surprising guest stars, along with the usual amazing art of Cafu and colorist Jesus Aburtov. And don’t forget Mr. Horse. Everybody loves Mr. Horse.

Beyond that, Jane’s story will continue, with more surprises and thrills to come.

I’m really glad Jane Foster didn’t die. I’m glad I didn’t let that dude who was writing Thor for years kill her off.

The Marvel Universe is better with Jane in it.

And same goes for Torunn Grønbekk.

New Projects

If you’ve been keeping up with these newsletters, you know I’ve talked about most everything I’m already working on for 2020, including the big, upcoming Moon Knight arc in AVENGERS and the new volume of THE GODDAMNED. But if you picked up CONAN THE BARBARIAN #12 recently, then you saw a little surprise tease of something else.

As a I wrote about last time, the year-long “Life and Death of Conan” arc that helped welcome the Cimmerian back to Marvel was a tremendous amount of fun and the fulfillment of a dream I’ve had since I was a kid. But if you thought twelve issues was gonna be enough to sate my lifelong Conan hunger, well, think again.

So look for KING CONAN coming later in 2020, by the same art team of Mahmud Asrar and Matt Wilson.

I do like writing Kings, it seems.

Upcoming Appearances

I just added a new con to my appearance slate for the year. Come see me at Niagara Falls Comic Con, this June 6-7. As always, I’ll be signing free of charge for all fans. Doesn’t matter how big of a stack you wanna bring. All I’ll see is a big stack of support you’ve given me over the years, and I’ll very much want to thank you for it.

New Stuff in the Store

Copies of the SEA OF STARS trade are now available in my online store. Signed by me. Probably in ink. Maybe in blood if the day hasn’t gone well. Or rum if the day has gone particularly tiki.

This has been Beard Missives, direct from the rum-smelling face of Jason Aaron.

This week’s newsletter has been brought to you by Valentine’s Day jellybeans, freshly-released Easter jellybeans, picante flavor chicharrones, Lego Masters on FOX, Kansas City’s TikiCat (love the new menu) and the distant, snowy wilds of Norway.

Be seeing you.

Jason Aaron

KC, February 2020