Strap in dweebs, it’s time for more of everyone’s favorite Norse trickster god—or rather, ex-trickster god, as a magic spell has now rendered em wholesome, family-friendly, and chock-full of vitamins for a balanced breakfast. As I mentioned last month, Agent of Asgard has gotten itself tied into yet another confusing, unnecessarily complicated Marvel universe event called Axis. In this event, some kind of villain boss fight that takes place in a totally different comic has caused a bunch of good guys to spontaneously turn evil, and a bunch of bad guys to turn good. While most Marvel characters can be easily polarized as “good” or “evil”, this is tricky ground for Loki to be on these days. Ey is no longer firmly in either Camp Hero or Camp Villain, so which parts of eir ambivalent motives have been affected by this spell are difficult to sort out.
Equipped with a dazzling new getup and notably bereft of horns, Loki’s first step on what ey insists is the path of syrupy-sweet righteousness is to be a huge dick to eir only actual friend. Ey tells Verity that because she is (more or less) an ordinary mortal, she is no longer fit to hang out with Hero Loki on eir quest to fight crimes and right wrongs. Needless to say, Verity is none too happy about being treated like garbage. At Verity’s disdain, Loki experiences some momentary doubt about how positive this “change for the better” really is, but his new friend/love interest Amora the Enchantress—also affected by the nega-spell—insists that if Verity was friends with the old Loki, she couldn’t really be that decent of a person anyway. Blinded by the spirit of heroism (and possibly eir boner for Amora), Loki agrees and heads off to Las Vegas, where it seems that a now-less-than-heroic Thor is getting drunk and wreaking havoc. Sounds like a job for Heroic Loki.
Meanwhile, back in Manhattan, Verity can’t shake the notion that this whole “hero” thing is far more problematic than Loki’s old mischievous and self-serving but generally well-intended modus operandi. She alone seems to be humoring the idea that maybe Loki was leaning in the general direction of “good guy” before the spell, and that eir newfound “morality” is really just a more deceptive sort of evil than what has happened to Thor and the other “proper” heroes.
Though I remain of the opinion that universe-wide Marvel events are detrimental to the narrative and serve mostly to sell comics, I will grant that this one is not as terrible as it could have been. Annoying as it is to have to untangle the threads of all these tie-in events, the premise of Axis does nicely highlight the gray area of morality that Loki has fallen into. Even though Loki has been working hard on eir do-gooder behavior in Agent of Asgard, ey was still far from what you would call a hero. Loki continued to manipulate Thor and lie to Verity, and while ey obviously genuinely cares for them and felt guilt for doing so, ey repeatedly chose to deceive them rather than respect their misgivings. Eir compulsion to resort to trickery was constantly at odds with eir desire to have positive relationships, make people happy, and be accepted.
The same dynamic now exists, simply in reverse. Instead of being slightly selfish and deceptive and feeling very guilty about it, Loki is now very arrogant and condescending and only slightly guilty about it. Eir guilt complex about eir previous misdeeds kept Loki convinced that ey was already genuinely evil, and that blinds em to the fact that eir current behavior is reprehensible. Amora is in a similar situation, and their current closeness only reinforces Loki’s inability to examine eir own behavior in anything approaching an objective way.
It’s looking more like Verity, the only remaining party who cares about Loki and isn’t caught up in magical bullshit, will have to step in and save the day yet again. To be honest, I’m sort of stoked about that. Verity is proving to be the fed-up, cynical rock that both Loki and the narrative needs to balance out all of Loki’s crazy emotional and developmental seesawing. It’s a miracle she hasn’t slapped em in the face yet; if you ask me, it’s long overdue. Maybe Evil Thor will relieve her of the obligation by throwing Asshole Loki through the wall of a casino and knocking some sense into him.
Be back next month for issue #9 of Verity: Loki’s Babysitter.