I’ve been on a bit of an all-ages kick lately with Marvel, with recent reviews including Squirrel Girl, Power Pack, and some classic Amazing Spider-Man. They all have their strengths and weaknesses, but it’s great to see such a focus being put on this kind of material from a major company. Thor & Loki: Double Trouble feels like the perfect synthesis of everything I enjoyed about the comics above in different, but exciting ways.
A simple way that Thor & Loki: Double Trouble emulates those series is in its design and format. Even though it’s a relatively short collection, it is sized the same as Marvel’s new almost digest-sized titles, like the new Squirrel Girl and Masterworks volumes, and it is a delight. The smaller size makes the typical problems with Marvel’s physical trades more palatable, but even then, things like paper quality seem higher than the typical Marvel trade. Beyond that, the format makes this feel like Marvel is actually trying to market this toward kids — or perhaps signaling shops to market it toward kids — which I love, as someone trying to use comics to help build literacy in young children. Its format makes it feel deliberately accessible in a nice way.
While design and format are similar, I also think this collection excels at something I’ve been thinking and discussing quite a bit lately: the idea that many Big Two comic series should be released only as OGNs and not single issues, and for many series, I would make that argument. Much of the time, the argument is that single issues sell to some percentage of people that will not buy the collection, and some people will inevitably buy both: if Marvel skipped the floppies, they would miss out on some money, so more series are forced into that format even if they would work better as one longer book.
Thor & Loki: Double Trouble, however, feels like it has found that balance almost to perfection. I only read it as a collection, but the way that each issue built on the last while also feeling like its own thing is something many series can learn from, and not just all ages ones. I don’t feel like I totally missed out by only reading the collection, and it reads beautifully altogether, but I can see and appreciate the pieces in a way that I know they would have felt nice on their own. Excellent pacing and structure by the whole creative team!
The creative team didn’t just make a well-paced story, though. Mariko Tamaki, Gurihiru, and Ariana Maher are separately amazing, and it should be no surprise that they’ve come together to make a wonderful comic. Tamaki and Gurihiru already teamed up for Spider-Man & Venom: Double Trouble (which I went and bought after reading this!), but even beyond that, they are a perfect match for the material. Tamaki has a rare skill of being able to write for all ages without speaking down to anyone, and it is on great display here, while the art team of Gurihiru has a similar ability with their art. The art team has built a strong brand with their animated and expressive style, but even then I think the range between this and something like Superman Smashes the Klan is clear, and impressive. Their art is easy to read, and energetic in a way that I greatly appreciate. Maher also did a great job lettering Gurihiru as well, with speech balloons that look larger than usual, accentuating the roundness of the line art, and helping to build on the legibility of the work as a whole.
This nigh-perfect team came together to create a story that feels like something I would have devoured and reread as a younger person, especially at its relatively short length. Its tone is whimsical but never too sweet, and its take on the characters feel classic, definitive, and modern all at once, all without needing any introductions.
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