At the end of Siege, nearly a decade ago, Thor’s estranged brother Loki died. Then, he came back. Kieron Gillen told the story of Loki reborn as a child, trying to carve out a new name for himself, to tell a story with a different ending. Journey into Mystery ended in tragedy, but Loki didn’t quit – he continued to try and change his destiny through the events of Young Avengers and Ewing’s Agent of Asgard. While he spent some time again as a villain – or close to one – after Secret Wars during Aaron’s Thor run, the ending of War of the Realms gave Loki a new start yet again to well and truly change.
The story starts off with a bang, as Loki tries his best to avoid responsibility in a manner that is very classically Loki. Shirking responsibility and duty seems to come naturally for this god. Yet the audience knows he can be better than this, as does his own brother Thor. This is the core of the book – Loki can be better, he just needs to try.
The other core driving theme of the book is something that Kibblesmith comments on in his letter at the end of the issue – it’s about the kids who do everything right and are still punished for it. The hook of the series is that Loki has finally gotten everything he ever wanted. He’s a hero, he’s the king of his people, and he has the trust and admiration of so many, including his brother Thor. Yet, Loki still can’t seem to settle and be content, and outside forces continue to hound him. In this case it’s an enemy from his own past – Nightmare, an entity he angered back in his childhood days.
Nightmare is vanquished fairly easily to end the issue, but the ongoing plot is far more interesting and has a lot of narrative force to drive the story. Just as Aaron’s Thor uses the future King Thor to drive home stakes and foreshadow upcoming stories, a future version of Thor appears in this issue. After showing up in Thor’s room and proclaiming that his brother will be the end of all things, this future Thor realizes that he was in the wrong room before dissipating. The present-day Thor treats this as one of Loki’s many pranks, as an attempt to annoy his brother, but the end of the issue reveals that it is anything but. The Thor who appeared in Allfather Thor’s room shows up at the very end, injured and in the future, as two children who refer to him as God approach. Teasing a future where everything goes wrong and it is up to Loki to save the day, this teaser gives the series proper stakes to move forward.
What ties this whole book together is Kibblesmith’s impeccable comedic skills. The issue isn’t a comedy book, but comedy is a big part of it. The very first page in the present day is a really funny gag, and throughout the issue Loki is making quips and jabs that land incredibly well and give the book a sense of levity. The jokes also do an excellent job providing weight to the more serious moments – Thor believing that the spectral image of his future self was a prank results in an incredibly striking final page.
Oscar Baldazua and David Curiel do a marvelous job on art duties in this issue. The book is gorgeous – from the very first page Loki just looks good. This art team is wonderful at drawing the characters of the book, including their facial expressions and body language, and equally excellent at drawing the worlds that these characters inhabit – fantastical or otherwise. Asgard looks gorgeous, just as Midgard looks grimy and real. A lot of the comedy that Kibblesmith injects into this book relies on Baldazua’s knack for body language and facial expressions, and the pair of them work in perfect sync to get the desired effect across.
This issue marks a new beginning for Loki, where he has more to lose than ever before, and sets up an incredibly compelling long game. It’s friendly to newcomers and seasoned veterans alike, and has enough to keep anyone hooked.