The good folks at Marvel Entertainment are no dummies. They understand the concept of corporate synergy, and they seem to understand it a lot better than their Distinguished Competition does. Aside from Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, the biggest breakout star of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been Loki, as played by actor Tom Hiddleston. He’s stolen the show in all three movies he’s appeared in thus far, and I can guarantee that the aspect people are most excited about for Thor 3 involves Loki. That, and maybe getting to see Chris Hemsworth shirtless again.
So the comics side of Marvel is wise to capitalize on Loki’s growing sex symbol status, and are playing it up in the new Loki: Agent of Asgard series, which debuts this week. Just how much are they playing it up? One of the first images we see of Loki in his first issue is him naked taking a shower (with the convenient heavy comic book steam that always manages to cover one’s naughty bits). This was all obviously meant to play up the character’s previously mentioned sex symbol status, and good on Marvel for being smart enough to try that angle. If this tactic can get more women to buy some comics, the same women who scream like it’s the Beatles in 1965 whenever Hiddleston enters the room at a convention, then mission accomplished.
In the first issue of Loki: Agent of Asgard, we find that Loki has a new lease on life, quite literally. After he died (and for the life of me I don’t remember when he died, just that he died. It seemed like only yesterday Loki was a woman), he came back to life as a younger, hotter dude. Not a bad way to return, considering the life he led, all things considered. The fact that Loki is now identified by a handsome British actor coveted by fangirls the world over probably played a factor in this new look, let’s be honest. But that’s totally ok.
He’s contacted by the All-Mother, which is actually a triad of Gaea, Freyja, and Idunn, who give Loki missions on Midgard (that’s Earth, for the uninitiated.) As Loki puts it in this issue, “I’m the All-Mother’s undercover operative in the cause of niceness and puppies.” Their mission for Loki this first issue involves him breaking in to Avengers Tower to retrieve some sensitive information from their computers, and needless to say, shenanigans ensue. But actually really funny shenanigans; I wasn’t expecting the book to make me laugh as much as it did, but Loki was consistently making funny remarks that had me snickering, usually at the Avengers’ expense. If Loki reminds me of anyone, it is probably another “trickster God” from pop culture, Q from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Sure, he’s a smug, manipulative all powerful deity, but ya kinda just love him anyway.
When Loki breaks in to the tower, he’s on a very specific mission, although he tells the Avengers (whom, by the way, are the exact Avengers line-up from the movie. Remember what I said about corporate synergy at work?) that he’s there to purge their files of any evidence of Thor’s DNA from their system, from back when Tony Stark cloned Thor for his own purposes. Knowing that just the mention of that event, from back during Marvel’s Civil War mini-series, will make Thor flip the eff out and go berserk, he’s now started a fight among the Avengers, so he can slip out and do what he really came to the Tower to do. This scenario sounds a lot like an episode of Three’s Company, but on paper it actually works and is fairly funny.
So what IS Loki’s mission in Avengers Tower, really? I don’t want to give it away, but it results in an interesting twist of an ending that sets Loki up for a new and interesting role in the overall Marvel Universe. Series writer Al Ewing, who has been making a name for himself with Mighty Avengers, knows how to bring the funny without erasing the dramatic stakes for the characters, or descend into total silliness, despite the sitcom-y nature of some of the stuff that happens this issue. I was also particularly fond of the way that Ewing describes magic-how it works, and just what its limitations are. This is something that is seldom addressed in mainstream comics, and it was nice to see an explanation for how magic works that made me go, “Hmmm… OK, I’ll buy that.”
The pencils on this book are from British artist Lee Garbett (Judge Dredd, Batman). While I found the art decent enough, there were panels in which things looked a little rushed, followed by pages that looked stunning, giving the overall book a fairly uneven look, but ultimately nothing too distracting. The title character and Thor, for example, are given a little extra care, but cameo players like Hawkeye and Black Widow don’t have the same attention to detail, it seems. But whatever issues I had with the pencils were minor quibbles at best.
Loki: Agent of Asgard isn’t looking to set the world on fire, but it’s a fun book and certainly worth checking out, especially if you are a newcomer to the Marvel Universe via the movies. No, he’s not drawn to look like the Tom Hiddleston version, but he evokes his spirit well enough. And, for those who care about such things, he sure seems to take his shirt off a lot.