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!

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

 

X-Men #11

I was so pumped for this issue. #10 left us with a masterfully executed cliffhanger: Mach 1 Sentinels rising from the ocean with Jubilee, Bling!, Quentin, Mercury, etc., waiting to take them on. Ana Cortes is finding herself in over her head with the Arkea situation. Arkea is ready to unleash some Omega Level dames.

Issue #11/Ghosts part 2 picks up with Ana and Amora having an a debate between and within themselves about what they are about to do.  They do it, of course. They’re bad girls and they’re outclassed, there’s no turning back. Held in Stasis, her soul distributed into the very air of a contain cell -reassembled by Amora: Lady Selene/The Black Queen/the oldest mutant.

And after that it starts to get hairy. Wait, is it hairy? Or is it just Anka’s weird art style?

No seriously. Is that a hairy armpit or is it just sketch lines?

No seriously. Is that a hairy armpit or is it just sketch lines?

I mean, if Selene Gallio (not Gallo, not Galio -as it has been spelled in the past 2 issues) who debatably came to life before the middle ages and before disposable razors doesn’t change her beauty routine to fit patriarchal fashion standards that’s fine by me.

But that’s not the only time that they art was a distraction.

When we leave the bad girls to see the good girls they are on the Cortes Yacht. Some were there last issue. Some were new arrivals. So I saw this:

Look at the top left + bottom right.

Look at the top left + bottom right.

Since we can barely see any of their attire and have no distinguishing facial features for some reason I could only gather that Monet was talking to herself somehow. Next page I figured out it was Karima. No one addressed her by name and in the last issue she was on the plane.

Anyway, on the yacht the girls put together that Yuriko was dead, Arkea was dead maybe they’re recruiting more dead mutants. Monet figures this out employed logic that is a complete stretch yet somehow EXACTLY what’s happening. They contact Sabra who confirms that there have been buyers for the genetic material of both Maddie Pryor and Selene (and apparently no one else, for some reason) (and also WHY would this be for sale? How is it not in their vault?).

At the Jean Grey School: Quentin Quire is babysitting John Sublime. QQ is everyone’s high school’s too-cool, punk rock nerd and he’s fanpoodling at John Sublime for being such a big bad. Sublime sees Shogo go by with Storm’s daughter from the future who never went back after BotA and somehow everyone was okay with that. Sublime says ominously, “Check your books Quire for a nasty example of a serial killer called ‘The Future’ something just reminded me of him.”

In Japan, Typhoid Mary and Lady Deathstrike are playing with swords. Ana’s in control and the cracks in her sanity get deeper. She asks Mary to kill her, she’s in over her head. She wanted power. She wanted to be popular. Maybe she wanted to meet Cyclops (I don’t know). But Arkea, her plan, it’s too much. Mary refuses. Ana goes at Mary, says she’ll force her if she has to.

Arkea enters, says “spare us your dramatics” and tells her that Maddie’s consciousness is primed. The plan is to add the consciousness of Jean Grey’s genetic clone into the same host as Yuriko? Ana’s already got too many voices in her head. So she ups the dramatics and impales herself on her samurai sword. To be continued..

SOMEHOW there’s a MEANWHILE

(it’s really a BEFORE)

Clay Mann did the art here and it was the best looking. We’re back to Catalina Island. Pixie and Bling! are taking out a Sentinel. Bling! gets dragged into the ocean, Mercury summons Pixie back to the plane and goes to save Roxy. Hellion and Jubilee are working on another. Quentin Quire is in the plane (see how it’s a “before”, not a “meanwhile”?) Karima is also in the plane and now in the last pages we find out that Pixie transported her to the yacht (but we didn’t see Pixie on the yacht). Jubilee turned into mist to escape the fist of a Sentinel and didn’t rematerialize… dun dun dun

Clay Mann’s art is fantastic, by the way. Shout out to Seth Mann and Paul Mounts, too. The layers are perfect. The water looks like actual water. Lights and lasers stand out above really REALLY ON POINT fight scenes.

Look at Pixie's laser, look at Bling!'s sparkle, look at all that STUFF in the background.

Look at Pixie’s laser, look at Bling!’s sparkle, look at all that STUFF in the background. All their pages are like that.

WHAT was happening with the timing in this issue? So QQ goes back to the Jean Grey School and doesn’t say anything about Jubes? Maybe… Maybe he wouldn’t say anything, but no one there seemed concerned. Wood really wanted to dual cliffhangers to work. And they would have. If Karima wasn’t on the yacht and Quire wasn’t the one with Sublime. Maybe it still “works” …technically. So much cool stuff happened this issue I just wish it wasn’t foolishly bogged down with spelling errors (yeah, I nitpick, and what?), trying to decipher who is talking and why/how they got there, and whether something is ‘meanwhile’ or “before”. I shouldn’t have to do that.

But, eff yeah; Black Queen! So, that forgives a lot.

X-Men #8

X-Men #8

The eighth issue of “Brian Wood’s X-Men”/”The All-Girl X-Men” keeps it low on the Y chromosomes with All-Girl enemies! Post- BoTA the in-fighting hits a low for this team as they unite to stop Lady Deathstrike!

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(My HBD tweet from Brian Wood, so huge.)

An intruder alert goes off at the Jean Grey School, the first to respond is Psylocke. It’s Typhoid Mary. She’s grabbed all the medical info on Karima, Shogo and Arkea. 

Mary escapes but Psylocke is on her trail (after getting dressed in the yard, much to Quentin Quire’s pervy amusement). Rachel (who sleeps in her full X-Men uniform) calls John Sublime to tell him the bad news. Except he’s already at the Cortes Compound, home of the new incarnation of Lady Deathstrike. 

Ms. Cortes, ahem… Yuriko is excited about the prospect of injecting Arkea. Treating alien bacteria hellbent on taking over the world/his sister as a body modification just not amuse John Sublime. 

But he believes that the X-Men will stop her (after all, they have stopped him and Arkea before).

Typhoid Mary shows up, believing she’s lost her tail. She’s psyched to learn that the Arkea live sample is a contagion. Lady Deathstrike cracks open the biohazard bag. John Sublime struggles to get the sample from her. When he does, he finds that the sample is inert. He shows off his big brain, telling the villainesses how he would find other samples that could potentially be alive. But he says he won’t. And they can’t kill him because they need the information! Ha ha ha, John Sublime will have the last laugh.

Or not. Typhoid Mary scrambles his brains and gets the info. She takes off with Lady Deathstrike and leaves John drooling on the carpet. Betsy steps in, scoops John up off the floor and they head back to the Jean Grey School. 

The bad girls land in Norway. Enchantress fights them with a stick and gives Typhoid Mary a thrashing. Enchantress has been stuck there 2 months. Thor exiled her and stripped her of her powers. Enchantress saw the meteorite strike nearby, Lady Deathstrike says that if she shows her the meteor that she can make Enchantress more powerful than Odin himself. 

Bling! and Jubilee are having their Degrassi Junior High moment. Bling! points out the hypocrisy of the “inclusive” X-Men before planting a kiss on a somehow surprised Jubilee. 

But Monet struts by and tells Jubilee that they’ve got a mission.

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…That’s not from this issue, it’s a #throwbackthursday to their Generation X days. 

The THREE villainesses find the meteorite and make a pact, a sisterhood, to stand against the X-Men!

This issue was really enjoyable. A ton going on. Jubes is getting all the afterschool special plotlines… isn’t she a vampire?! Jubes, do vampire stuff! On the art front: I’m enjoying Terry Dodson’s take on the girls and since he and Wood go back with Monet, Jubilee and the crew to Generation X I have high hopes for the rest of this story arc!

+ You know we’ve discussed KP Vampire Slayer before- Including how the now Professor K was the inspiration for Buffy Summers. But did you know:

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Circa 2000- Monet St. Croix faces off against Vampire DeLaCorte …completely unrelated to Jubilee being covered in vampire blood in a terrorist attack/being bitten by Xarus, son of Dracula in 2010.

interestingly enough Dodson drew this comic up to this issue and Wood started writing the one right after. 

Agents of SHIELD Episode 8

The post-Thor episode.

Asgardian stuff. Simmons is ducking her fam. She hasn’t talked to them since before she almost died (After coming into contact with the Chitauri helmet). Her parents will want answers, and being a member of a covert organization… she can’t give them.

Heavily accented 20 somethings cut down a Norway spruce and remove a metal staff with Norse carvings. The female touches it with her barehands and starts to scream as the symbols transfer onto her body. Then she lets go. Approached by park rangers, she pushes one and he goes flying.

Agents of SHIELD arrive. They investigate while the streets of Oslo erupt into violence. The streets burn with the words “We Are Gods” they are leaders of a Norse Panganist hate-group. Interesting. Especially as the image of Thor’s Hammer has been adopted as a symbol by neo-nazi groups for some time because  Hitler glorified the Aryan/Norse look. Which leads me to be suspicious of anyone decorated by that particular symbol. Do they just like viking metal? believer in the Old Traditions ignorant of the symbol’s incarnation as a racist amulet? Or Nazi fuckhead?

Coulson says that Thor has been “off the grid” again. No cell phone. Probably would be some epic roaming charges if he did.

-But have you seen textsfromsuperheros.com ??

Imageepic.

Anyway. Spectacular Spider-Man alum Peter Mac Nicol (who played Dr. Octopus in the totally unrelated Marvel TV world) guests as the Norse expert. He unveils that its part of the Berserker staff. Belonged to a Berserker Warrior. Uncontrollable rage, etc. A warrior brought it to Earth, but he fell in love. He didn’t go back to Asgard with his army, he broke the staff in three and hid the pieces.

So it’s a race to find the rest.

They search an abandoned church. Ward and Skye go in. Ward finds the professor has beaten them there and stolen the artifact. Ward grabs for it. Bare handed. But he drops. Skye rushes to find him. The professor runs for it but is stopped by the hate-group.

Coulson finds the professor but the staff is gone.

Ward is being examined by FitzSimmons while Skye looks on. Skye tries to get him to open up about what happened when he touched the staff (a memory of his brother is triggering a hyper adrenal response). But he becomes a super jerk instead. He insults Fitz, Simmons and Skye. The only person suited to deal with him is Agent May who dodges a punch as he tries to work it out.

Meanwhile, the Norse Paganist hate-group is making more super skinheads.

Ward confesses to Coulson that he’s compromised. He’s reliving the first moment that he felt hate. Coulson says that he’s admitting it means that he can be trusted. He sends Ward to get info from the professor. Ward tries to stab him, the Professor bends the knife in his hand. He’s Asgardian. Go figure. (So… how did some suped up street thugs get the drop on him?)

The Prof. is the Asgardian Warrior who stayed behind. He met a French girl in 1646 which is where he confessed and the myth began. He broke rocks in Asgard. When called to join the army, he was thrilled. But he didn’t get the thrill from the rage the way the others did.

The professor tells Ward that the effects will wear off in a couple decades. Greeeatt. 

The group is close behind as they reach the monastery for the third piece. Ward smacks down the whole room holding two pieces, his brother begging for his life in the back of his head. They’re all bloodied and not moving. Ward is beaten and collapses in the heap. As another enters, he goes to grab for the staff. But May gets there first. She says he needs to let her help. And she smacks down blondie with no issue, she reassembles that staff and sets it down.

Later, Ward asks May how she could stand it. But she “sees it every day.” Unlike Ward who locked his traumatic past away.

At the bar, Skye tries to tell Ward that she’s there for him, she knows he’s not one for talking… blah blah. But it’s not talking he wants. He retreats to his room, he sees May returning and she leaves her door open behind her. 

Great episode. It was just really great. Except we still have no inkling about May’s past after having yet another entry into Ward’s sad sad childhood. (and his brother was drowning in a well? who has a well? Did little Whedon just google “generic sad thing” or what?)

But it was interesting.

Peter MacNicol’s guest appearance and reveal as an Asgardian was rad. 

What will Ward and May’s hook up mean for team morale?

 

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.