Want to brush up on Loki and that time he was a woman in Marvel Comics? Out this week in comic book shops right in time for Loki’s first series finale is Mistress of Mischief, a collection featuring a female Loki during J. Michael Straczynski’s run on Thor. It’s a period when Asgard was a floating rock over America and Loki had changed his form for very evil reasons. Mostly drawn by the incredible Olivier Coipel, this is a collection that stands out as having some of the best Loki speeches in comics.
Upon first cracking this book open one might realize it’s an odd collection of disparate issues. Collected here are Thor #5, 9-10, and #12 along with Thor #600-602 and Dark Reign: The Cabal. Thankfully this collection and how it’s put together isn’t that confusing since it’s more about what Loki was up to during this run rather than Thor himself. Running 200 pages long, this book is all about Loki stealing Lady Sif’s form and doing harm to Asgard and Thor to the best of her ability. Stealing Sif’s likeness gives the gender swap an evil and disturbing purpose and is it highlights how evil Loki is during this period.
If you enjoy supervillains waxing poetic in long speeches, you’ve come to the right place. Loki is up to no good at the start of this book as she manipulates the Balder who ends up becoming the king of Asgard. Straczynski uses Loki expertly to connive, plot, and get her way by never breaking rules or even doing anything wrong. She’s simply very good at whispering the right things into the right ears or doing a bit of magic when the time is right. That’s where speeches come into play and there are multiple where evil intent is at hand, but Loki can get away with it with ease. It’s an example of how the character can stab characters in the front and not be punished for it.
There are three high points of the collection that make this a fun book to read. There’s also an excellent fight sequence between Thor and his grandfather, but this is a Loki-focused book for a reason!
#1: Loki uses time travel to ensure his past
Taking place in Thor #12, Straczynski brings focus to Loki for the entire issue where we learn he had a hand in his development. In fact, Loki meets a child version of himself. In a key scene, we learn Loki gave himself the idea to kill his own parents. After being turned back into male form, Loki is sent back in time to speak to his younger self before he ever set foot in Asgard. This leads to bloodshed and the eventual adoption of Loki by Odin. It’s a clever premise in itself as we see the ultimate manipulator manipulate himself. It’s also a cool wrinkle to add to his origins while also revealing Loki was an abused child.
Olivier Coipel draws this issue to perfection, with great inks by Mark Morales. Colors by Laura Martin with Paul Mounts add the green pop of Loki as needed and blend well with the heavier inks. There’s an evil tone that hovers over every panel that you feel thanks to the great ink work. Coipel gives the story a cinematic quality that would live up to a cinematic interpretation.
#2: Loki can outpace Dr. Doom in a conversation
A key scene between Loki and Dr. Doom takes place in Dark Reign: The Cabal. In it, Loki is attempting to broker a deal to allow Asgardian people to migrate to Latveria. Peter Milligan writes a tense back and forth between Loki and Dr. Doom as Loki tugs at Dr. Doom’s ego to get what she wants. It also opens with a great scene where Dr. Doom tests Loki to make sure she’s invulnerable and who she says she is since Dr. Doom hasn’t seen Loki for some time. It’s a turning point for the larger story of Asgard moving to Latveria and it all rests on this solidly written one-shot.
Drawn by Tonci Zonjic with colors by Jose Villarrubia, the evil nature of Loki screams through thanks to the lack of eyebrows and casual facial expressions. Zonjic frames Loki well while she talks, drawing your eye to their little emotional acting tricks that seem to sway Doctor Doom. It’s a shorter story, but it’s felt when the flames encompass Dr. Doom’s people thanks to the well-drawn licks of fire and orange glow of the flames.
#3: Loki nearly has her way with Balder at all times
There are multiple instances when Loki confuses, tricks, and converses with malicious intent with Balder in this book. A key scene in Thor #601 is particularly great because Straczynski shows Balder isn’t as dumb as Loki might think. In fact, Balder may be smart enough to spar in debates with Doctor Doom. In a key scene, Loki attempts to convince Balder to make a deal with Dr. Doom so that Asgardians can live in Latveria.
The scene works in part because Dr. Doom thinks Loki has this in the bag, but she certainly does not. Even still though, Straczynski makes this back and forth feel like a dance eventually bringing their conversation to a conclusion, but there are some close calls as Loki nearly loses what she’s after.
Marko Djurdijevic draws this issue with inks by Danny Miki and Mark Morales to perfection. This issue has much darker tones with many six-panel pages drawing our eye to single figures like Balder, or the ongoing looks between Dr. Doom and Loki. What’s interesting is Balder never stops eating or drinking as if he’s unaware of what these supervillains are after.
Loki: Mistress of Mischief is an interesting collection that feels a bit chopped up at times, but connects the dots as far as lady Loki’s exploits during this period. She’s conniving, ruthless, and incredibly smart. Straczynski wrote this character with a good sense of humanity, but it’s pushed down very deeply so that we know it’s there. On the surface, it’s quite clear Loki’s greatest power was her way with words and it’s exciting to see the character written so cleverly and with such glorious purpose.
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