A while ago, I wrote a review of Thor and Loki: Blood Brothers, which I thought was amazing. It had originally been called just Loki, which I think suited the story much better. However, the title was changed around the release of both the live-action movie and another four-issue arc called Thor: The Trials of Loki. In part, I think Blood Brothers had been renamed because of this comic, which could also be mistaken as being called just Loki, since “Loki” is written across its cover in big, bold green letters. However, I think a more apt title for it would be Thor: Creative Bankrupcy.
The Thor comics are based on a preexisting mythology, and so it is understandable that Marvel pulls from that. However, Marvel normally manages to put its own twist on things. Just turning Thor into an Avenger makes it wildly different from the source material. The Warriors Three are all original characters. And Thor and Loki are brothers, instead of Odin and Loki being brothers. So on and so forth. Unfortunately, every once in a while, Marvel comes out with Thor issues that, for all intents and purposes, read as if they were pulled directly from the Edda, a collection of Norse poems, with the least amount of alteration possible. This happens every once in a while in the comics that take place exclusively away from Midgard.
That’s not to say those comics cannot be good. Blood Brothers was very well done, but that’s because it wasn’t pulled directly from the Edda. It was a character study told from Loki’s point of view. We didn’t just see Loki do evil things; we could understand why he did them, even if we didn’t agree with them. Trials of Loki is also a character study of Loki, but I feel it misses the mark in many places. Some parts of it are rather well written—I immensely enjoyed the first issue, and seeing Loki traumatized by having his mouth sewn shut while Thor, whom he trusted, held him down was very powerful—but other parts are not.
The synopsis for Trials of Loki goes like this:
“The gods fall, you ascend.”
These simple words—whispered by the Norn Witches into the ear of Loki, the Norse trickster god—would set the world aflame! Loki has always been the consummate outsider, not as beautiful or favored as the other Asgardians. But did it have to be that way? Is Loki evil by choice… or destiny?
Find out, as Loki goes through his most wrenching ordeals, with epic results. Will Loki kill Balder, the Asgardian god of light, in fulfillment of the Norn Witches’ prophecy? Will he dare tempt the power of Thor, God of Thunder? And will he bring about Ragnarok, the dreaded Twilight of the Gods, in a quest for power?
Loki is capable of great evil. Can even fabled Asgard prevail against his treachery… and destiny?
In many ways, it feels as if Trials of Loki is trying to be Blood Brothers, as it kind of sets out to do the same thing. It does go about it differently from Blood Brothers. As I said, we see Loki’s lips sewn shut—something that happens to him for telling lies in the original stories—and we see his murder of Balder, the latter of which is the main driving plot of the comic, and probably the most famous tale regarding Loki. That is also why this story doesn’t do much for me. Blood Brothers worked, because it showed how evil the rest of Asgard could be to Loki in return, and that’s why seeing Loki’s mouth sewn shut is so powerful here. Thor is a dick who’s not as noble as he says he is, and he’s even so dismissive of Loki that he completely forgets the part he played in traumatizing him, or that Loki was even traumatized to begin with.
But the arc with Balder falls flat in some ways. Furthermore, I don’t really care about Balder. Essentially, Loki manages to kill Balder, because Balder has a bad dream, and unlike all the other adults, he can’t handle nightmares and whines to his mother about it. But that’s not why I think it’s flat.
As I said, Trials of Loki pulls straight from the Edda with little variation. Loki is still Thor’s brother, not Odin’s. But the Warriors Three are not in this, and neither is just about anything else separating Marvel’s universe from original mythology. I feel as if I’ve read this story already, and that’s why I don’t like it, because I don’t feel as if Marvel took it anywhere new. I can like it better if I view it as an adaptation and not a part of the Marvel universe at large. As an adaptation, it should at least have good visuals, and to be sure, some of it is really well drawn. However, a lot of it looks rather subpar. Even the cover is off-putting.
I should mention, however, that from most of the reviews I’ve read for Trials of Loki, people seem to really like this comic. I don’t for the reasons I’ve explained, but you should read it for yourself and come up with your own conclusions.