Wednesday, October 25, 2017

COMIC REVIEW: Loki: Agent of Asgard

The Road to Ragnarok!
Loki: Agent of Asgard
Writer: Al Ewing
Illustrator: Lee Garbett

4/5 stars
PG-13 for some violence, some language, sexual references/innuendos
Recommend to fans of Loki, whether of the classic or new, comic or MCU variety; lovers of anti-heroes, character development and characters who just can't seem to get it right.

Kid Loki's all grown up - and the God of Mischief is stronger, smarter, sexier and just plain sneakier than ever before. As Asgardia's one-man secret service, he's ready to lie, cheat, steal, bluff and snog his way through the twistiest, turniest and most treacherous missions the All-Mother can throw at him...starting with a heart-stopping heist on Avengers Tower! And that's just the beginning, as Loki takes on Lorelei in Monte Carlo's casinos, and heads back to the dawn of Asgard to join its greatest heroes on a quest for a certain magical sword! But when Loki puts together a crew to crack the deepest dungeons of Asgardia itself, there may be one plot twist too many for even Loki to handle! (from Vol !: Trust Me, via Goodreads)



It's simple, really. I'm a character development kind of girl with a thing for antiheroes and major character flaws. Some of my favorite fictional characters are Artemis Fowl, John Cleaver, Raymond Reddington, Han Solo, Zuko, OUAT's Rumpelstiltskin and, of course, Loki. What I love about these characters is their conflicting desires and their struggle in weighing them out. That idea of wanting something you can't have, wanting it so bad you can taste it, so bad that you'll do anything to get it. In these moments, people become their best or their worst selves; here, they can commit atrocities they never would have imagined or show a bravery even they didn't know they possessed and watching this unfold fascinates me. The more painful and conflicted the desires, the better!

Is it any surprise then I fell hard for this 17-issue series chronicling the former supervillain's fight to obtain the impossible -redemption?

Even desperate to turn over a new leaf, Loki doesn't step into the role of your typical hero. He is, after all, still the God of Mischief, still the Trickster, still the God of Lies and he lives up to those expectations while (mostly) staying clear of Supervillain territory, whether he's completing some decidedly shady missions for the All-Mother or sneaking off to complete an agenda of his own.

This version of Loki is a delicious combination of loneliness, love, desire, justified anger, hurt, and guilt. This is a haunted Loki, plagued by demons of his past self -metaphorically and literally. (This is the Marvel Universe, after all. You can't just have one Loki running around, can you?)

Loki isn't just fighting to redeem himself from his past sins. He is fighting against his very nature. His destiny. Loki IS the God of Lies and all the while he is fighting for his freedom and redemption -with every heist, cloak-and-dagger mission, and epic showdown- Loki: Agent of Asgard continually poses the question: "How can the God of Lies be redeemed? How can the God of Lies ever be trustworthy?"

In my initial review of Vol 1, Trust Me, I said:
It's the kind of tale I've always dreamed of reading, one where I root for the character so hard, I'm almost afraid to get to the end, in case they disappoint me. (Don't you dare disappoint me, Loki; don't you dare make this Dark World all over again.)
Standing now at the end of the tale, I have to admit it did not end the way I expected or necessarily the way I wanted. I think it's actually better. The answers Loki finds to these questions -how can I redeem myself? how can I become trusted and worthy?- are as beautiful as they are unexpected.

This story works because -despite the high-flying adventures- Ewing is decidedly focused on Loki's character and development, concentrating as much as he can on Loki's relationships, even in the chaos of three major crossover events. (Three!) The most important relationship is not actually the complicated one with Thor, but an unexpected friendship with a mortal named Verity Williams. A mortal who can see through any lie. Needless to say, she doesn't take any of Loki's crap.

I find Verity a particularly interesting character and companion for Loki. Verity could have served as an interesting foil to Loki in a nemesis situation, given her unique ability to spot lies and deception, but instead serves as his best, truest, maybe only friend. While by no means perfect, this is one of my favorite friendships I've seen in comics. Verity and Loki both test and push each other -out of their comfort zones, into confronting their worst selves, and ultimately toward better versions of themselves.

Unfortunately, I don't think that Verity and Loki had quite enough adventures or time together on the page. They really are a huge part of why I love this comic and, while Verity is a constant in the series, there was so much story to cover in these 17-issues that I do feel Verity sometimes got the short end of the stick.

A big reason for this -and a major failing of the series, I think- was the number of crossover events it got dragged into over its short life. On the one hand, I totally get everyone wanting a chance to play with this new Loki, but it was a little ridiculous.
  • At issue #5, just when the story's getting into its rhythym, it offshoots not only into the major Original Sin event, but into a 5-issue Thor & Loki offshoot of the Original Sin offshoot called The Tenth Realm.
  • Then issue #6, THROWS US INTO ANOTHER CROSSOVER without giving us a chance to recover from Original Sin. Issues 6-9 are re-labeled "Agent of Axis" to take part in the AXIS event. Unless you actually sit down and read the AXIS event, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense.
  • Issues 10-13 are purely Agent of Asgard and I have to admit they're pretty epic.
  • Issue #14 tosses us into the Secret Wars event. This, admittedly, wasn't quite as jarring as the first two. I haven't actually read any other aspect of Secret Wars than this, but I didn't feel I had to. Unlike the other two offshoots, Secret Wars felt more a part of Agent of Asgard than the other way around.
Despite the story bouncing through so many other Marvel tales, I've got to give Ewing credit, because he always makes the most of it, and Loki achieves some new truth or development inside the crossover that makes them overall worthwhile for Agent of Asgard readers.

The story can be initially confusing with its time travel and references to multiple different Loki incarnations, but by the end these threads are all tied up together for a satisfying tale, one that I predict will be even better the second time because of the foreshadowing at work so early in the tale. And it is so worth re-reading.

Not completely perfect, Loki: Agent of Asgard has plenty of fun, adventure, humor, and a whole lot of heart. I can't wait to see what Loki does next.

What's your favorite Loki story?
How are you prepping for Thor: Ragnarok?

The Road to Ragnarok
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  1. I've read the 1st issue of this and loved it :) (I snagged it on a free digital deal - which is why I haven't read any of the other issues: lack of funds!)

    I personally don't find the varying versions of Loki confusing because I've developed a general, 'oh f**k it, just go with it!' attitude to comics (which you have to do if you pick up second-hand back issues cheap!)

    I love Loki though - you kind of have to, right? In whatever form, s/he is a bad a** with a lot of vulnerabilities; which I think is why people relate to him/her.

    Btw, I saw Thor: Ragnarok yesterday. It's amazing. (But so very, very random!) XD

    1. Gah! I'm so excited to see Thor! Only one more day to wait!
      And of course! Even when he's the outright self-centered villain, Loki is too mischievous and fun not to love!
      My biggest thing with jumping into comic stories is just that I like to know basically where we're at. Luckily, I've come across a good website that can help me figure out good entry points. I only used to snag whatever comics the library had -talk about RANDOM- but I broke down and signed up for the Marvel Unlimited subscription, so now I can read whatever, whenever.

  2. I haven't seen it before,but I know the story line as well,I wanna ask which series of this book is the best?

    1. If you're wanting a good Loki story, Agent of Asgard is a good way to go; if you want more than that 3-volume story, I've heard that reading Kieron Gillen's run of Journey into Mystery (issue #622) and beyond is a great read. has a great list called the Loki Reading Order.