Loki, the God of Mischief. A character who’s been known for decades as one of the big villains of the Marvel Universe. His schemes caused the Avengers to form, he’s been fighting against Thor for millennia, and he is all in all a wholly untrustworthy person. But that Loki died, and a new one was born – as Kieron Gillen’s Journey into Mystery showed and this new Kid Loki did his best to not be who he once was. He was still a liar and a trickster, but the malice was gone – until he was secretly killed and replaced by a more conniving version of himself. Only now this more conniving version also wants to be better than he once was, but also has the death of an innocent on his hands for all time. This is where Agent of Asgard starts – with this new Loki trying to make up for his sins. By the end of the story, though, it is something else entirely…
The struggle between one’s past and who one wants to be is a major part of this story, and it’s really resonant. Loki’s enemy is not Thor, it’s not Odin, it’s not anyone else. Loki’s great antagonist, the one who keeps trying to prevent him from changing, is Loki himself. This was the case in Journey into Mystery, and it’s literalized even further here – Loki’s enemy is literally a future evil version of Loki, who wants to ensure that he himself comes to exist. The conflict of this story is a mix between Man vs Self and Man vs Society – Loki has to continue to prove himself to a group of people who do not truly care about him, while his own future self does everything he can to prevent his redemption. It’s complicated at times but it’s incredibly compelling, a line that Ewing manages to walk perfectly.
This run got tossed between events like a rag doll – just when one tie-in ended, another began. There was really only one arc of the whole thing that isn’t directly connected to a linewide crossover event, but even that one draws details in from Ewing’s Mighty Avengers. Yet this ends up not feeling like a weakness – the events instead serve to enhance the story by causing unexpected shifts that the characters have to scramble through – which Ewing does with aplomb. The second arc of the story takes place during Original Sin, and both ties Angela to the world of Thor and also adds extra context to Loki’s relationship with the gods who raised him. The Axis tie-in does what all great Axis tie-ins do, and used the inversion of Loki to show exactly who Loki is at this point in time, and define who he doesn’t want to be – an important definition in a story about growth and change. The Final Days tie-in uses these universe-ending stakes to show Loki at their most desperate, doing what is most important in the world to them – and it’s not nearly as self-serving as one would assume. The way Ewing is able to display all these facets of Loki’s character really deepens the whole story, and makes it a fantastic reading experience.
This book is really emotional and layered with meaning, but it’s also really funny. Ewing and Garbett are a fantastic combination and nail comedic timing. From the very beginning there’s some hilarity, and the series wouldn’t be what it is without the tone it’s imbued with. The serious beats land a lot harder as a come down from comedy, rather than an overall dour tone. There’s also a lot of situational comedy that arises from Verity’s ability to see through any lie, which makes her immediately endearing.
As a whole, this book is one of the strongest of its time, with fantastic ideas, emotional character work, and absolutely impeccable art that all make it a modern classic. I don’t think there’s a negative word I can say about it, it’s easily accessible (although best read after Gillen’s Journey into Mystery and Young Avengers), easy to read, and gives you a lot to chew on. It’s the final act in a trilogy of absolutely fantastic comics, and it’s very easy to see how Ewing’s garnered the following he currently has.
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