Loki: Agent of Asgard #1 Spoiler Review
Al Ewing, Lee Garbett, Nolan Woodard
For a long time, Loki was kind of… lost. Thor was experiencing something of a renaissance thanks to J. Michael Straczynski, and Marvel kept a long line of talented writers on the book from then on. But Loki? He was a harder sell. For a god of mischief, he generally came across as a fairly one-note force of malevolence. Kieron Gillen brought Loki back – but as a child. Who knew that simple move would fix so many of the character’s issues? From there, Kid Loki became dedicated to making up for past misdeeds and forging a new identity for himself, trying to escape the pull of his past.
But all good things must end, and Marvel couldn’t have a major film villain, fan favorite, and inexplicable sex symbol stay a child forever. Loki: Agent of Asgard, which posits the god as a sexy twenty-something secret agent of the gods, could have very easily reeked of the absolute crassest of trend-chasing; that it doesn’t speaks highly of Al Ewing’s skills as a writer. That it actually takes many of the themes and ideas established in Gillen’s run and updates them for the more adult, more active protagonist makes this a series to pay attention to.
Loki: Agent of Asgard #1 finds the trickster god working secretly for the All-Mothers of Asgard. While Kid Loki sought to build a new myth, Sexy Loki seeks to erase his old one. Loki is a creature of stories, and all the awful things he did all his life pull at him, trying to force him back into old patterns. In return for his services, the All-Mothers will erase past misdeeds, freeing Loki to continue his work in building a new myth. It’s a canny use of pretty much every aspect of Loki’s character in the past few years, a strong thematic anchor for the series. I often talk about needing to ground fantastical concepts in mundane truths, and this is a great example: While most of us are not legendary tricksters or gods, we all fall into old patterns, often harmful ones, that can be difficult to escape. It makes Loki relatable without blunting his unpredictable edge, which is vital to keeping the character interesting. That conceptual hook, and some of the ideas it lets Ewing begin to play with here, is far and away the book’s strongest aspect.
That is not to say that the book isn’t without problems. Lee Garbett’s art is fine, but outside of one brief scene in Avengers Tower, it seems surprisingly inert. That said, that scene is probably the highlight of the issue, and Garbett’s manic energy there bodes well for when Agents of Asgard gets bigger and weirder. I also found the opening flash-forward to be frustrating at best, and indicative of an all-too-common tendency towards flash over substance in comics storytelling at worst. It doesn’t just borrow a twist almost exactly from Thor: The Dark World, it has the same outcome, too! Ewing tried to disguise it (and other twists) by jumping around a bit in the story’s timeline, but there’s precious little genuine drama there, and more than a few missed opportunities.
Ultimately, my biggest question about Loki: Agent of Asgard #1 is this: Was the slight sloppiness of the pacing and brief forays into nonlinear storytelling a result of Ewing trying to manufacture false drama, or was it intended to hide the issue’s last-page twist and keep the book as chaotic as Loki himself? The answer to that question will, I think, define the series’ greatest strength – or weakness – in the months to come. While I found Loki: Agent of Asgard just a bit more scattered than I typically like, I could see it growing on me considerably. Ewing already has a strong voice for his lead, and the series’ core concept as presented here is one that gives it both focus and room to sprawl, two great traits for an ongoing series.
Ultimately, Loki: Agent of Asgard #1 has a ramshackle charm that fits the character well. Despite a few small reservations, this was a good direction to take the book, and if Ewing can stay focused, this could grow into another real winner for one of Marvel’s most reliably interesting characters.
My Rating: 3.5 / 5