Well, minions, it’s time again for Loki: Agent of Asgard. I’m sure you have some questions, not least among them “Didn’t AoA come out last week?” and “Why is this being published on a Wednesday?” Well to that, I pose some questions of my own, such as: “How dare you speak to me?” and “How did you get out of that box I put you in?” No matter, as from here on out reviews will be continuing as usual, barring the interference of dark wizards or my employer (who may, in fact, be a dark wizard).
As of Issue #6, the Original Sin event is mercifully over, and Loki is back to kicking it in eir crappy apartment in Manhattan… for about thirty-five seconds. As soon as ey turns up, Verity is waiting to unleash several days worth of righteous indignation. In order to secure her help with the Asgardian Caper, Loki had to strategically omit certain facts about eir intentions, and Verity—whose emotional trauma over being lied to has been made clear to Loki—is more than a bit displeased. Loki seems to feel genuinely remorseful and, in a spate of guilt, comes tantalizingly close to revealing eir nefarious, body-snatching past, only to be sucked through a force field in the floor by Doctor Doom.
In his meanderings through space and time (because Doom can totally do that) he came upon evil future-Loki cackling most villainously in the midst of a charred wasteland that used to be Latveria. Doom decides that the only appropriate course of action is to kidnap present-Loki and lock em in a giant spacetime ice cube.
Luckily, Verity got sucked through the force field as well, and though she is still not entirely willing to forgive Loki’s deception, she’s not about to let Doom keep em in his trophy room either. She explains to Valeria, Doom’s niece and operator of the spacetime-freezing forcefield device, that Loki really isn’t the same god ey once was, that the future is never fixed, and that Doom’s reaction is a bit extreme. Meanwhile, throughout the rest of Latveria, people have been inexplicably picking increasingly violent fights with one another. In his preoccupation with Loki, Doom didn’t notice until it was far too late.
Here Agent of Asgard makes an annoying tie-in to yet another Marvel event that has something to do with Red Skull sending telepathic hate-waves all over the planet. Though Valeria wasn’t sure about letting Loki out of Doom’s magic box before, Verity’s assurance that ey can help with the whole “telepathic rage” scenario persuades her. With the power of science, Loki, Verity, and Valeria convert Loki’s truth-sword into a truth-wave that allows all the hapless victims of the hate-wave to realize they aren’t actually angry at each other. Then Magneto shows up, and to be honest I’m not really sure what that has to do with anything.
There are some elements of character development in these issues, notably Loki’s apparent remorse and subsequent willingness to be honest with Verity about eir past. Also, in spite of eir fears about being a habitual liar caught in the epicenter of a truth wave, ey chooses to help the people of Latveria rather than skipping town. All that is well and good, but my main takeaway from this month’s reading is that I’d really like to follow a story arc from start to finish without having to do trigonometry to figure out what tie-ins I’m missing. These universe-wide tie-ins seem to be a marketing plan on Marvel’s part to force people to buy comics that they’re only tangentially interested in, but more than being annoying, this can be very exclusionary. It makes it exponentially more difficult for new readers to pick up comics, and for lapsed readers to get back into their favorite characters. For me personally, knowing how interconnected and complex the Marvel universe is was a major deterrent when I started reading comics, and even now that I’ve been reading for several years, I still find it incredibly frustrating to have to spend literally hours doing research before I make my purchasing decisions.
A friend recently pointed out to me that the popularity of Kamala Khan as Ms. Marvel may have something to do with the fact that hers is one of the few comics not currently involved in any major Universe-wide events, making it much easier to read as a stand-alone. While occasional connections between different comics can be helpful in guiding readers to new material, Loki: Agent of Asgard started as a major pull for new readers from the cinematic universe. If someone like me who is pretty familiar with Marvel is starting to get frustrated, I can only imagine what new readers are dealing with.
Because of the tie-in, Issues #6 and #7 have gotten away from Loki’s personal struggles and development for the sake of this external plot. Fast-paced action isn’t inherently bad, but the narrative keeps skimming the surface of Loki’s emotional baggage and then being whisked off in another direction before any progress can be made. There is no clear indication of how long Agent of Asgard will continue, that depends on its ratings, but after seven core issues and a five-issue spin-off, I feel that the shadow of Loki’s past is getting boring as it looms over us waiting for the big reveal. I have high hopes that the truth-wave unleashed in Issue #7 will force a confession of some kind, but I have had such hopes before and they have thus far been fruitless. Stay tuned for next month’s review, because if I’m not whining about Loki’s emotions, I’ll certainly be whining about my own.