LOKI: Agent of Asgard [Trust Me; I Cannot Tell a Lie]

Back in the day, comics-Loki is an ugly piece of shit villain who is also an eternal prankster and an exponentially talented liar whom you will damn well assume never gets invited to family reunions (but is probably there for the really dangerous parties). Thanks to the lovely British actor Tom Hiddleston making his mark with the cinematic role version, I could never look at this comic book character in any way, shape or form that doesn't portray him anything less than hunky and a tad bit emo-tastic. Like a good quarter of the Tumblr population, I may or may not have fantasized Hiddleston as the Norse trickster god Loki every time I take hot showers. I also may or may not have gotten so fed up one day that I was forced to get myself acquainted with him in comics just so he'll appear less in my dreams at night. I needed to read Loki in the medium he came from because I'm steadily losing grip of my mental faculties the more I delay this. But I want to read him not as the shriveled, serpentine bastard he had been portrayed as for as long as the Thor stories have been around. 

So I picked yet another recent depiction of him here in 2014's LOKI: Agent of Asgard. Now this Loki is pop-punk rock pretty. Aesthetically-speaking and in a shallow sense, I guess one could say that I consider him as my own Justine Bieber--if this comparison also means I get irrationally turned on just looking at him in the pages of this comic book...which I DON'T (most of the time). But if the comics-Loki everyone is used to is a skinny, vile, untrustworthy grand deceiver of a character (though he was even a woman at one point?), then how do we explain the appearance of this teenage-looking Loki in this continuity? Well, that's the beauty and the disadvantage of reading Agent of Asgard. Every issue does provide a summary of events just so new readers like me can get the context and gist of what happened in the previous titles related to this 2014, one but it's pretty much going in blindfolded as you eagerly expect to sample the wonders of the  highly-anticipated orgy party you've recklessly invited yourself into--MY MIND GOES TO VARIOUS SEXUAL PLACES WHEN I TALK ABOUT LOKI, I'M SORRY

Let me start over. EHEM.


Volume 1: "TRUST ME"

Reading Loki: Agent of Asgard without getting acquainted first with any other publication before it can get confusing at various times but in a fun way. If you are reading Loki here for the first time and nowhere else in the meantime, then a struggle to understand contexts in between issues is unavoidable. 

See, about sixty percent of the time I had to piece things together by myself with limited knowledge of the old storylines being referenced, but the rest is still easily enjoyable because there is a charm and humor to the way Al Ewing writes Loki as a titular hero as we follow him on his quest to redemption. Artist Lee Garbett also illustrates him in the scrumptious ways that make me tingle. The first volume (issues #1-5) makes him likable and dynamic enough for readers to stay interested. By now if the strongest association you have of Loki is his movie version, then this Loki will be reasonably pleasant enough. 

It's really hard to get into the meat and bones of the actual storyline for this series without probably alienating anyone reading this review--but I'll try.

First off, DON'T READ THIS THE WAY I JUST DID. Say you don't share my itchy lust to get to know Loki (because of Tom Hiddleston)--this could be either a good thing or a bad thing. If you do like Loki as a character in the movies as I do then you will find the smallest things about this comic book worth experiencing; it'll serve as enough motivation for you to try and understand the rather complicated and helplessly ambiguous and layered storytelling of the issues as a whole because you already like Loki. Now if you're not primarily interested him as a character foremost then Agent of Asgard is not going to be a casual read. It can get very self-referential and at times, and rather excessively narrative-oriented (I'M TALKING VOLUME 2 WHICH I WILL GET INTO). Your attention span may not handle it well if you don't latch onto Loki as a character you want to see grow throughout the story. If that is the case, then maybe you shouldn't read this series--not until you follow my instructions:

LEARN (OR READ) MORE ABOUT KID LOKI. Who is Kid Loki? To save you the trouble from looking up Loki's exhaustive comics profile and history in Wikipedia, I'll just keep this brief. Some time during the Thorverse, old, grumpy and deceitful Loki allows himself to die (debatable) and gets reborn as a boy to wipe his slate clean. Kid Loki is his second chance at redemption. There are various hints and vague flashbacks in Agent of Asgard that touch upon this thread but it won't be enough which is why you need to actually read said issues to understand it more. I've personally tracked them down and were able to read them so I might just re-read the second volume of this series before posting a review for that since I can finally properly contextualize the events after reading these key issues:

  • Journey Into Mystery issues #622-645
  • Thor #17 [his origin]

Now these issues serve as some kind of "prequel" to the ultimate plot relevance of Kid Loki in Ewing's own 2014 series, as well as the implications of the sort-of retcon that occurs in the second volume concerning Kid Loki. I don't want to post that spoiler here because you're not going to get it or be grateful in any way especially when you are intrigued to pick up this series one day. I still think you should. Loki: Agent of Asgard can be fun and endearing in a lot of ways, but only if you visit those key issues I've suggested before thoroughly browsing this series. 

[A complete listing of all Kid Loki issues are found here



Volume 2: "I CANNOT TELL A LIE"


I'm presently reading Journey Into Mystery issues which focus on Kid Loki this week, but I know I had to review this volume sooner rather than later because I've delayed it for an entire month now. I actually forgot some of the stuff that happened for Agent of Asgard, most probably because as interesting and as potentially riveting the idea of a newly-minted Loki in his twenties trying to make amends and rewrite his bad-guy reputation, there are certain aspects to this series that would make it unreadable in general especially when you're not a Marvel comics reader like I was so there are so many stuff that got past me because I was just inherently unfamiliar with them.

So I had to re-read issues 6-10 of this collection just a few hours ago and it just occurred to me how uneven it was that I had to change my perfect five-star rating from my initial one last month. I remember enjoying what I read because it was woven with compelling mythology elements, but the more I thought about certain plot points in this volume, the less incomprehensible they got and that lessened my enjoyment upon re-reading them again.

The first volume comprised of the first five issues were fun; it introduced this version of Loki quite nicely--he was young, hip and eager to change opinions of the people he had wronged. The redemption angle of AoA prove to be a selling point that hit my sweet spot,; one that is beguiling for me whose only connection and knowledge about Loki is mostly movie-based as portrayed by the painfully orgasmic Tom Hiddleston. This was why Agent of Asgard easily appealed to me on that shallow surface; I like looking and reading about a pretty-faced Loki and his antics and shenanigans. I continue to be hopeful for the development of his characterizations and his relationship with this "walking human detector" Verity Wills whom he was growing increasingly fond of even when he shows it in confusing ways. I can certainly detect a genuine friendship developing between both sides which should be challenging for either of them, considering what they are as individuals. It's delicious irony to pair the self-made God of Lies with a woman who could always see through any deception. I think this is mostly why Loki likes her company; in a weird way, he knows she has the ability to keep her true, and all throughout this volume she's definitely giving him a hard time every time she knows he's withholding things from her. 


The best part of this ordeal is that readers can see Loki tries to form some kind of trust with her which might come off uncharacteristic for him but to me it's rather endearing to see him vulnerable around Verity especially when he doesn't even know that he is.

Now, no matter how I look forward to more Loki-time for this series, this second volume left a bitter aftertaste because four out of the five issues collected here are tie-ins to the crossover AXIS event in Marvelverse. Here Loki gets confronted by Doctor Doom, Thor is a bad guy, etc. It's just damn confusing for someone who doesn't follow other titles so I'm not nearly invested in crossovers unlike with DC whose crossover stuff I always try to keep track of when they affect my Batman comics even if I have yet to read them completely myself. The second volume suffers because of these woefully unnecessary tie-ins to Agent of Asgard. It would have been so much better if they kept everything about this series standalone for now. This version of Loki is developing as a character and it's reckless endangerment to throw him at whatever convenient storyline he could fit in and rather poorly at that as seen here in AXIS. Heck, he even made an appearance in a Ms. Marvel Valentine issue which was cute and nonsensical fun, but again, it's fanservice for the sake of pleasing female fans who totes want to hang pin-up posters of this hot twenties Loki.

Now, I'm not saying I don't belong to that crowd because I probably do, but I much prefer this character to be well-written and interesting in the long run. This was why the second volume was a complete let-down because it's as if the writers won't let this version of Loki have his time in his own spotlight and in his own series to figure out how he will grow and progress as a titular hero. It's sad, really. However, the silver lining does come up by the tenth issue which finally switches back to something standalone and intimate for Loki. See, once Al Ewing focuses his lens back on actually telling a Loki-centric tale woven with fantastic mythological elements from the Norse lore, this series really does shine and hold up as a riveting piece of fiction. The next issues that will be compiled in the third volume (11-13; it's ongoing at this point) hold promise because ever since then, no stupid crossover is being pushed down my throat as I read this series and I want that to stay that way. So, this second volume was a drag but good things do come to those who wait and I know I will have a more positive review for the next volume of Agent of Asgard soon enough.

I think I'm going to have to post reviews for Journey Into Mystery issues that are Kid Loki-centric this week. Those are guaranteed to be filled with spoilers because I plan to analyse Loki there as a character and his relationship with his brother Thor which is something I really enjoy watching in the movies unfold. 
Overall, put this series on your TO-READ list and keep it there in the meantime. 

If you like Loki (and even intensely desire him as far as you can want a fictional character), then this comic book may be for you.

RECOMMENDED: 8/10

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