Second Opinion: Loki Agent of Asgard #1
I’d say ‘Loki is up to his old tricks again’, but these tricks are entirely new.
Full disclosure: I didn’t read Kieron Gillen’s Journey Into Mystery run so I was left out of those Tumblr “feels”. I did however read every issue of Gillen and Jaime McKelvie’s Young Avengers series that recently wrapped that served as the bridge between JIM and this series. When that series left Loki in the body of a young adult, I was fully on board to see what the trickiest character in the 616 had in store.
The most interesting part about writing the character into the role of protagonist I imagine would be tricking the reader. For someone so synonymous with lies and deception, any story about them is expected to take you by surprise. Writer Al Ewing understands this, and opens this chapter in Loki’s history with a shocking image that may or may not be what it seems. In fact, Loki’s history is the focal point of this story, as I imagine will be the premise of the series, and his entire motivation is to rewrite himself into the world with an image he designs, not the role he felt forced into when he was branded the God of Evil.
Tasked by the All Mother to accomplish the goals of Asgard as only he can, with the methods only he is vested in, Loki’s first mission brings him face to face with his brother Thor, as well as the rest of the Avenger’s A team. The reasons he is enlisted for the task, and how his machinations play out are the meat of the story and it would be a disservice to give you any hints to what’s happening. If you are a fan of Loki, Thor, and the Avengers, the combination should very well be enough to stir your curiosity enough to give this a read.
You will not be disappointed. Kieron Gillen was a writer with a cleverness that matched the character, and to handle writing Loki you have to be. If this issue is any indication, Al Ewing is up to the challenge as the structure and pacing of the issue serve solely to trick everyone involved, from the characters on the page to the reader with the book in their hands. There were character moments that made me laugh out loud, such as a conversation between Hawkeye and Black Widow during a brief moment of downtime, and Loki admitting some interesting internet hobbies. The final page cliffhanger is most definitely a hook, and it was more than enough to want to see what happens next.
The art by Lee Garbett was clean and focused. He made excellent layout decisions to keep the story moving the way Loki wanted it to, and his expressions emote exactly what each character is thinking and feeling at any given time, with special care given to our protagonist’s impish smirk. I especially appreciate the slight change in style to reflect flashbacks to the silver age Avengers. It seemed both an homage and a personal stamp to the designs. The colors by Nolan Woodard are dynamic and Loki’s signature green coats every page without being over powering.
As a new ongoing, I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction. Fans from before my time in the JIM days should be delighted with how far the character has evolved, and new fans have enough going on in this issue to understand everything they need to without feeling lost (If there are references to previous events, we are presented with those handy Editor Notes that help clear things up a bit). Loki is having a renaissance thanks to his movie counterpart, and this is an excellent jumping on point for those who swoon over that portrayal.
Just don’t put too much merit into what he says, especially when he says “Trust me.”