Loki: Agent of Asgard #4

This series gives no french toast about telling the story consequetively: So we begin with Sigurd (the ever glorious) climbing a mountain to see Kaluu (Master of Black Magic). And He has Gram! The hero’s blade! But Loki is supposed to have that!

In the recent past, Loki is having dinner (baked salmon with lemon) with Verity Willis. Verity is one of my favorite new characters: a human lie detector. She’s a human. She can detect lies from gods, too. Which is how she sees Sigurd who has turned himself invisible with a Lightbender Invisibility Belt stolen from AIM. Sigurd is busting in to steal Gram. Duh. Once he’s busted, Sigurd tries to talk his way out it. But it turn out that the All-Mother has assigned Loki to have Sigurd returned to Asgard. The All-Mother is still displeased that Loki let Lorelei escape and they tell him that either Sigurd is returned or Loki himself will be. 

Sigurd and Loki duel and Sigurd is victorious. Duh. 

Back on the mountain: Kajuu is impressed, and when Sigurd requests that he be put onto the wheel of incarnation, so that when he dies he can be reborn instead of being tortured by Valkyries in Valhalla (a plotline that goes back to New Mutants #43 about 4 years ago). Kajuu agrees to help Sigurd with the sacrilegious deed and he gets Sigurd to sign it in blood.

It’s not Kajuu, it’s Mephisto. And he’s set to damn Sigurd to the torture pits. Only Loki’s gotten there first (and tripled up on invisibility cloaks) and switched the contract: he sends Sigurd back to Asgard and Mephisto back to Hell. Parting words from Mephisto, “It’s what I’d expect from the young punk. Not from you.” He knows that “kid Loki” is gone, and inside is his old pal.

Loki is getting anxious, not about Mephisto finding him out, but about the All-Mother locking up Asgardians for roaming free on Midgard, “In other words, today it’s him… tomorrow it’s one of us.” He asks Verity, Lorelei and Thor to help him on his mission.

“You don’t bring a sword to a Loki fight” is the name of the next issue. I wonder if Loki will come into contact with his alternate self that’s roaming about. But it’s still early in the series yet.

For Asgardia’s finest: Y.A.L.A. (you always live again) 

Not for Sigurd this time, but it’s working for Loki… thus far.

Lee Garbett’s art is well suited, fight scenes are crisp and the look matches the feel of the writing excellently. Something I don’t often acknowledge? The Lettering. Asgardian’s get their old school fancy font, Mephisto gets an odd one, scrolls appear here and there to announce random facts or times. It’s just good. It’s just so good. I have so much love for this series.

Loki: Agent of Asgard #3

This issue takes a break from the view of the new young (still kind of the old) Loki and follows the older (but possibly younger?) Loki. Loki is doing laps around the space/time continuum. We follow the aged trickster back in time to him greeting a young (and still prince) Odin. Loki gets the future king (and his adoptive father) into a heap of trouble after he takes out a shape changing man from a nearby town.

Side note: Odin’s all “That large beaver meant us no harm” but the both of them a clearly wearing leathers and eat meat. Both of these things involve killing animals that more than likely meant no one any harm. Loki just happened to kill a man in the form of a man-sized otter.

 

Jenny Frison cover = Old Man Loki +reflective riches Loki front and center conveying his self centeredness.

Jenny Frison cover = Old Man Loki +reflective riches Loki front and center conveying his self centeredness.

Anyway, they stop in to a pub and order some mead, but Odin picks up on that another patron is waiting for his son who was hunting supper. Dun dun… his son was the otter. One brother demands blood, the other demands retribution in the form of gold. Loki (the hardened old man Loki) shoots a fish with a bazooka to collect a treasure. Well, not exactly, he shoots a dwarf who can turn into a fish (his name is Andvari and this is a Norse folktale that is weaved in) The gold is cursed. And the character Regin behaves about the way he was written to traditionally. Andvari’ gold exemplifies the traits of each man who keeps it, Regin turns vengeful and Fafnir turns greedy (and into a dragon, he refused to leave the treasure and his body became deprived of food and water and survived off of spells and magic in the air and it transformed him… which is a very interesting idea). Sigurd, the first hero of Asgard, some years later, comes into the same tavern, he is served by Regin who has forged a mighty sword (Gram, the sword young Loki gets in Point NOW) to exact revenge, he gives it to Sigurd. IF Sigurd will slay (the now dragon) Fafnir and bring him his heart.

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Sigurd, being a legendary hero, does this mightily and then returns to Regin (who tries to stab him in the back. Literally). Sigurd keeps Gram. And some years later discards it. King Bor dies later still, and the still prince Odin finds it. Old Loki arrives and tells Odin to hide the sword in a box with 5 keys and save it… for this young Loki…

What does that mean?!

And if that wasn’t crazy enough, Sigurd in the PRESENT goes in search of his sword, finds that Loki already got there and vows to steal it back.

This series is so utterly and consistently good. I can’t begin to imagine why the haggard old man Loki has set this all into motion, but when he looks in on his other self (with Verity!) and says, “What a precious little girl child I am.” it poked fun at the taunts that Loki looked like “he’s from Twilight” or whatever crazy crap my friends thought about this. It’s a great story, about wanting redeption but knowing that you don’t really deserve it, and that you won’t really get it. But striving on anyway. The older Loki still considers himself the God of Evil… so why has he lead this Loki that seeks redemption to the ultimate weapon? What’s the end game?!

Well, I’m unsure… but I am exorbitantly intrigued.

Lee Garbett’s drawing and Nolan Woodard’s art suit this tale perfectly shadowy but still crisp, undertones of red, gold and green illuminate the pages. The toothy dragon is larger than life, his heart is larger than a man. The fight scenes are detailed. Loki is hardened and wrinkled, a stark contrast next to the goofy young Odin.

And Sigurd: the first hero of Asgard is Black. I love Marvel.

Sigurd +(young appearing) Loki in #4!

Sigurd +(young appearing) Loki in #4!

Fantastic Female Friday: Lorelei

(Marvel comics, Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD)

From the Agents of SHIELD episode “Yes Men” it was easy to gather that Lorelei had feminine wiles that would cause “men” to go to endless war. She’s used to commanding armies, she’s used to demanding the finer things. But to her… they aren’t men, not really anyway, they are soldiers… they are ants. 

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Lorelei made her first appearance in Thor #337  in 1983. The story that she falls into is one of unrequited love, she’s always getting at Sif for liking Thor (since the 80s!), Loki likes her and Lorelei can have any man she wants… well almost, she can’t seem to get Thor. There’s lots of convoluted trickery including spells, potions, dragons and fake names. Amora, her older sister, tricks Lorelei and Loki into falling for each other. In Loki:Agent of Asgard #2.. this is still somewhat the case. Although, it’s more likely that he feels a fondness for her because of their similar status in their families. Lorelei gets in over her head enough, from wreaking small havoc on the love lives of her cohorts to teaming up with Pluto and spawning Valkyries.  

She’s a little much. 

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But look at the way people are all captivated by Hiddleston, there’s no reason to hate on a female version of Loki.

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But Lorelei’s not a knock off.. she’s her own personality evolved out of a similar experience. She might be a “tramp” and a “hussie” but let’s face it: So? She knows what she wants and she knows how to get it. And that’s hardly the only weapon in her arsenal. She has sorceress powers, can turn men to stone and she’s skilled in combat.

So when she is set free in Thor: the Dark World and debuts on the small screen taking over a biker gang’s empire in the middle of the desert -did anyone recall that Odin was being impersonated by Loki at the end of that film?! So did Loki want his lady friend back? …think about it.

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While I’m not a fan of her role in reinforcing the gender binary (her power only works on men… doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle room… also no mention of gay men or lesbian women… erasure is a dick move, this should be retconned by now.. shit.) and despite the fact that her powers aren’t limited to coercion she’s seen relying heavily on her feminine wiles.. I’m still a fan. It is tropes on tropes. But we live in a world where people do infact have “good looking” privilege. Lorelei takes that to the next level. And that’s one of these times when I want to remind everyone why “conventional gender roles” are bad for everyone: Is it really her ‘fault’ that men will all fall on their swords for her? They were taught to look out for beautiful damsels in need… she just eggs them a bit further. It’s that specific reason that I can justify that it is only ALL men influenced regardless of orientation. Male privilege. Society said that men are heroes who fight for women. And this is the result. She’s manipulated a broken system to her will. 

Loki: Agent of Asgard #2

I returned home with my comic book haul today Image

 

And waffled about which freaking awesome thing I should read first. All of these will be reviewed soon, so, now you all know what’s coming. Anyway, I decided on Loki: Agent of Asgard #2 first. It was funny and wonderful for issue #1 and I am genuinely pumped about this book. Pumped!

And it was perfect to pick up because Loki is searching for Lorelei, who just made her appearance on the small screen yesterday at the end of Agents of SHIELD. Loki (the young Loki) is on a mission from the All-Mother to find a goddess, Lorelei. His mission leads him to a speed dating event in front of a snarky, heavily tattooed human lie detector. Loki regales the woman… with the truth (which involves his foster mother manifesting in a punchbowl and spilling herself on the carpet. He followed Lorelei using modern era tactics and found her running small cons and grifts in preparation for a casino heist. Lorelei uses her powers of distraction and seduction to fool and dazzle the security team and Loki pulls a bait and switch of his own. 

Loki’s former flame finds she’s been double crossed, she’s not impressed with the new version of Loki. Loki, not being entirely squeaky clean still steals stacks of cash from the vault. Lorelei, being thwarted and all, will be preying on the lovelorn, those willing to hand a beautiful woman their wallet, those who want to be hypnotized. Which is what brought him to the speed dating event featuring a who’s who of Marvel’s New York elite.. 

At the end we get a glimpse of Loki’s priorities. And Loki gets a new friend. A new friend he can’t lie to. 

As for the rest of his cohorts: You can always trust a liar to lie, right? except when you can’t. 

This issue had hilarious cosplay jokes, it was funny and very lighthearted while tying in lesser known characters and creating a brand new one; Who I like a lot. I hope Loki becomes her neighbor. Al Ewing keeps the tone appealing and the pacing perfect, there’s still that time jump thing that I usually don”t like but it works here. Lee Garbett and Nolan Woodward nail the art and colors. The contrasts, reflections, lights and shadows are dynamic and do an amazing job of setting the tone. The facial expressions, too, it’s too much. Loki’s sly smirk, Verity and Lorelei responding to Loki’s antics… Well, just look:

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What did everyone think of Verity? Will there be more Lorelei? How come Loki just gets girls?

Anyway, just pick this up. It’s so good and it’s not too late to get in at the ground floor on this one, it’s wonderful.

Loki: “I’m all about starting over.”

Loki: Agent of Asgard #1

AKA Trust Me #1

Loki. There’s a lot to say about Loki. Tragic trickster, Thor’s foster brother, black sheep of the family, God of Evil, hilarious, powerful, spiteful. Made all the more popular because of the Marvel cinematic universe portrayl by the stunning Tom Hiddleston.

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Anyway, Loki died, was reborn into a new, youthful body, obtained the sword of Asgard’s earliest hero and is now a secret agent for the All-Mother, the ruling trio of Goddesses. 

So.. page one, when we see Loki stabbing Thor in the back with the narration, “TRUST ME. I know what I’m doing.”

We must wonder… does he?

Earlier: Loki is soaping up when the All-Mother (Gaea, Freyja and Idunn) show up to give him a mission. This leads him to Avengers tower. Thor is Drinking, Cap and Iron Man are sparring, Hawkeye and Black Widow are lounging, Bruce Banner is working, Loki is laughing. Sounds right. 

Loki climbs the building, takes an extra peek at Thor, who is drinking mead and ordering around the help. Thor gets irrationally mad when he catches a whiff of Loki and tosses his hammer out the window at him.

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He falls past Hawkeye and Black Widow’s room (she’s reading a book while he plays video games) and Hawkeye shoots out a grappling hook arrow, which Loki grabs. 

Meanwhile, we get some backstory on Loki and his particular brand of magic. And why he wants to be the good guy. 

Loki, now inside, is asked to answer why he has come. Loki babbles that he is the All-Mother’s Undercover Agent. And then he tells Thor that Stark still has Thor’s DNA from Civil War when they cloned him to make a monster(retconned but not gone!).

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Thor, predictably, challenges Iron Man…and Loki runs off. AND then he tricks Hawkeye into thinking Bruce Banner is him, and so he shoots Banner who Hulks out. Nothing more distracting than that. 

Soonish;

Loki reaches the Avenger’s Database. What he’s looking for… is himself. The files they have on him. The God of Mischeif that became the God of Evil. The Villain. The Loki that burned. He purges the files. People like patterns, they expect him to become that. He’s trying to reboot his story. 

They catch him. Thor orders them to kill Loki. captain America, goody two shoes, says, “Avenger’s don’t do that,” so Thor says he’ll do it himself. But the Hammer is too heavy (dishonorable behavior) so he goes at Loki with his bare fists. And that’s when Loki stabs him in the back. “TRUST ME. I know what I’m doing.”

Earlier: 

Thor yells at the All-Mother that women belong in kitchens, not on thrones.

Before That: 

in a bar fight, hassling a wench.

And then we get a glimpse at the whole mission. Corruption has entered Thor’s heart. The All-Mother sent Loki to cast it out, but he needed a sword to make Thor see the truth. To suffer the blade is to suffer all the truths you deny yourself. Thor sees and casts out the corrupt entity which Loki captures in a jar.

So:

Loki and Thor get their brotherly moment. There’s a Slashfic joke and they share a drink. And Loki escapes shortly after. Back with the All-Mother we find out his reward. For each successful mission, one crime purged from the memory of all of Asgard. He leaves them in the jar.

What’s inside is truly bewildering and terrifying. What will it mean for our would be hero?

I love all of this. We have this anti-hero character, reborn and trying to make amends. He’s not granted instant redemption and he knows he has to work with that. He’s not surprised that no one trusts him. But he wants to be good. No one is the villain in their own story, everyone thinks that what they are doing serves a purpose, everyone wants to be the hero. I really like the idea of Loki overcoming himself in his quest to change his fate instead of overcoming, tricking or otherwise convincing others. Al Ewing did a great job on this story -I’m not a huge fan of jumping back and forth, but it was well done. Lee Garbett’s art was expressive and playful and perfect for this story.

Will Loki redeem himself? Or will he be his own worst enemy? Dun dun dun

 

(all new) Marvel Now! Point One

This $6 book features previews/prologues for some debuting/rebooting series that start up in the next month or so. These include Ms. Marvel, Silver Surfer, and Black Widow. The framework for these really random stories follows Loki in the search across space and time for 5 keys. My favorite of which was the first, he wins the key from a face eater in a poker game and escapes by giving the toothy aliens paper cuts on their eyeballs and making a run for it.

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Silver Surfer gets a retro look courtesy of Michael Allred. Allred is well known for the indie comic “Madman” which I haven’t read but my boyfriend told me was kind of like Adventure Time but for grown ups. The art is very distinctive (Pete picked up on it from across the table and distracted by empanadas). Dan Scott crafted a tale for Norrin where he in travelling in a very Whovian way with companion Dawn Greenwood. She doesn’t know as much about him as she could…

I couldn’t work up any interest in the All-New Invaders story.

Black Widow gets real. Really real. And beautiful. Subdued colors, soft features, water colors; Phil Noto’s art in her tale, “Predator,” is simply gorgeous. Nathan Edmondson presents her as we’ve come to know her: cunning, mischievous, bold, sassy…  conflicted and deadly. Always a predator.

The first glimpse of Ms.Marvel really made this worthwhile to me. A shapeshifter trying to be everything to everyone, fighting trash monsters, working her way up to hero status. Hideout envy. Meanwhile she still has family obligations AND school… her family pressures her to be a straight A student, wants her to marry a nice man… she might be a shapeshifter but can she fit their expectations? G. Willow Wilson’s “Garden State of Mind” made me remember what it was like to be a Sophomore and have my sassy pants on. Adrian Alphona’s art the scene, the costume is on point. They keep it modest and authentic and I dig it.

The Avenger’s story “Short Term Fixes” has Hulk loose on the SHIELD helicarrier again. That’s always happening.

Ms.Marvel the “shape changing, mask-wearing, sixteen-year-old super Moozlim from Jersey City” and Loki being Loki were certainly the highlights. The Silver Surfer was good but I will probably never keep up with the series. 

This book is mainly for the completists (or the curious) preparing for the next wave of books. I would have saved my six dollars if I didn’t fall into both of these categories.

Movie Review#16- Thor: the Dark World

No major spoilers. Super hero movies, gotta love them, right? 

Welllll….

There’s nothing to not like. It’s gorgeous and fun and funny. There’s action and romance and Chris Hemsworth with no shirt on. There’s fake science, there’s drama, there is effing KAT DENNINGS.

Thor (Chris Hemsworth, Avengers, Star Trek, Cabin in the Woods) returns to do battle with Malekith (Christopher Eccleston, 28 Days Later, “Doctor Who”), the vengeful leader of an ancient race of dark elves that seeks to destroy the Nine Realms. I won’t spoiler this for you, but it involves something that Jane Foster -in a role reprised by Queen Amidala herself, geek goddess Natalie Portman- while inspecting an anomaly that defies physics and logic. 

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Odin (Anthony Hopkins, Hitchcock, Hannibal) doesn’t even know how to handle the dark elves (who have spaceships- that doesn’t really make sense. elves are supposed to be tree-people… and if the had been nearly obliterated wouldn’t someone have destroyed their tech?)

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When they attack Asgard they wreak havoc in ways that makes busting Loki (Tom Hiddleston) out of jail and committing treason seem reasonable. 

Loki is imprisoned after, you know, wreaking havoc on New York in the Avengers. I personally never really had a soft spot for Loki but this movie definitely won me over. You can’t trust him, but you can trust Loki to be Loki.

Kat Dennings, as per usual, plays a sassy, immature, bold, awesome chick as Darcy, Jane’s BFF and intern. She’s just there for the laughs. But she gets them, so there you go.

What’s unfortunate is that none of the characters has any real character development, everyone leaves pretty much the same way they came. It’s throw into discussion more than once that Thor is going to live 5,000 years longer than Jane. That human lives are a flash in the pan compared to Asgardians, but it is quickly disregarded. The villain in this picture, Malekith, the dark elf is completely unsympathetic, he wants to destroy all the nine realms. He’s evil. There’s nothing redeeming. Loki is the only complex character, which is probably why I fell for him. 

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Loki surpassed my expectations in his third pass as antagonist. While he won’t be back for the Avengers sequel, sources say there may be another chance for the God of Mischief to scheme against (or with?) our Marvel heros. 

 

You should definitely see Thor: the Dark World. The special effects are off the chain, and lets face it, the current stretch of Marvel movies is so good, there’s no point in acting like you are too cool for this one. But nothing ground-breaking happens here. One thing I was impressed with, all the women in this movie have their own unique strengths and weaknesses, it would have been really easy to make Jane into an action chick out of the blue, or make her helpless without Thor. Neither of which happens. Darcy is a one dimensional big mouth, but I like her. Sif… oh man, we needed more Sif (played by the wonderful Jaimie Alexander, who -please please please- may be Wonder Woman). 

I give in a 3.5 …it was formulaic, but flashy enough to make up for it.

Side note- In Norse mythology, dark elves were subterranean and would turn to stone if touched by sunlight. In some mythos they would sit on a sleeping person and whisper evil things to them to create nightmares (which has no relevance within the film) and in other myths, dark elves had more magical potency through causing death, they would absorb the life-force and it would make them more powerful (which would have explained why they wanted to destroy all nine realms in this film.