I guess you could count me as one of those people who is baffled by the recent rise in popularity of Loki. I’ve always liked him as a villain, and Tom Hiddleston’s performance was definitely the best part of the first Thor film, but viewing him as a hero? Giving him his own title? Making him some kind of sex symbol? That just makes no sense. So then, why am I buying this title? Well, it’s mostly down to the writer, Al Ewing his just a great writer, from his 2000 AD work (everyone, read Zombo now!) through to the current run of Mighty Avengers, he always delivers and entertains, so I decided to pick this up. I was worried that this title would be a continuation of Young Avengers and be too focused on the Tumblr-crowd, but not to fear, apart from one awkward reference to slash-fiction, Ewing seems to actually want to write a story, rather than just inspire gif-sets.
This was a very fun opening issue that sets the stage for what should be an enjoyable, unique series. It grabs you from the very first page in fact, as it opens with a splash of Loki literally stabbing Thor in the back. He says he knows what he’s doing, but does he? This opening arc is called ‘Trust Me’, and for Loki as a character, that’s perhaps the most important factor, can anyone trust him, and should they? After this stabby opener, Ewing flashes back to earlier in the day, with Loki taking a shower, and then being given a mission by the All-Mother. We don’t learn what the mission is, but we soon see that it involves breaking into Avengers Tower. I really liked Ewing’s description about what magic is (taking a thought and making it real) and also how he put that magic to good use as espionage gear. Loki has magic boots that allow him to walk up walls, and he has an invisibility coat. This series is a strange mix of fantasy and spy story, and already you can see just how well those two genres can mix. I already kind of want a crossover between this book and Black Widow.
Loki’s mission quickly goes wrong as Thor (who is busy getting drunk) smells him, and chucks his hammer at him, causing him to fall right past Black Widow and Hawkeye, who are playing video-games. Hawkeye saves Loki from his fall using a grappling hook arrow, but it’s only to bring him in for questioning. Ewing provides a nice quick recap of the fact that Loki is the villain who accidentally caused the Avengers to form, and then it’s on to the interrogation. The Big Three show up, wanting to know just why Loki is here, and he deftly manipulates them by telling Thor that Iron Man never actually destroyed the DNA he used to create Ragnarok during Civil War, and cause the Avengers to fight each other. I loved the fact that Ewing brought up Ragnarok and Civil War here, as those events do seem to have been conveniently forgotten by a lot of writers, and it’s the perfect choice to sow discord amongst Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Hawkeye tries to stop Loki from escaping, but the Loki he sees is an illusion cast over Bruce Banner, who is understandably not happy to have an arrow in his shoulder, and Hulks the fuck up, giving Loki even more time to do what he came to do.
It looks like what he came to do is access the Avengers’ database (and therefore basically every other database in the world) and erase all information they have on the previous Loki, which he does, but as soon as he’s finished, the Avengers have stopped fighting, and confront him once again. It’s here that Thor’s angry nature becomes more pronounced, saying that he plans to kill Loki. The biggest hint that something is up with Thor is that Mjolnir is too heavy for him, and it’s here that the stabbing happens, and the real purpose of Loki’s mission is revealed.
Already weakened by Malekith in his own title, Thor has been corrupted by some mysterious black goop that is turning him evil and crazy. The All-Mother have dispatched Loki to save his basically, and he does so, as the magic sword ‘Gram’ sucks all the evil out and into a convenient jar. Thor and Loki reconcile, and Loki returns to his mothers. We find out that Loki’s desire to escape his past goes beyond the mortal realm, and that his reason for becoming the ‘Agent Of Asgard’ is that, for every successful mission, the All-Mother will purge the memory of one of Old Loki’s misdeeds from Asgard’s history. Loki is literally trying to become a new man, and it’s a great set-up for this series. But unfortunately, it won’t be that easy, as once Loki leaves, the All-Mother opens the jar of evil goop, which reveals itself to be… Old Loki! I’m guessing he’s not taking too kindly to being removed from history.
Overall, this was a great first issue, the character of Loki is well-written and not nearly as annoying as he was in Young Avengers, the tone is fun and clever, and the idea behind why Loki is now a quasi-hero makes sense. Lee Garbett’s art was also very good, he imbues Loki with a lot of personality and nails the more comedic moments perfectly. I may not get the rise of Loki right now, but I think Ewing and Garbett are going to make me understand. I trust them. Or do I?