The soul-crushing downward spiral into madness and despair continues this month in Agent of Asgard #11, both for the reader and for our dashing anti-hero(ine). As if being constantly consumed with guilt and distrusted by most wasn’t stressful enough, Loki’s Big Dark Secret is now public knowledge in Asgard, and if there was ever hope for reconciliation, it’s likely long since gone. Over the course of #11, Loki finds emself completely friendless, then virtually homeless, then mostly naked, gagged, and tied to a chair. It’s a wild ride.
There is some small comfort in the fact that no one in Asgardia can quite bring themselves to actually kill Loki after learning of eir crimes. Perhaps it is out of sheer contempt, as Fandral and Volstagg claim, but after spending years developing a grudging fondness for Kid Loki, it seems like it would be difficult for them to dismember someone who looks just like him, if slightly older. Instead the Warriors Three truss Loki up a bit, then advise that everyone in Asgardia give em the permanent silent treatment.
The only person who gives em a second thought is—of all people—Lady Sif, who has herself been inhabited by Loki, in much the same way that Loki inhabited Kid Loki’s body. Since Loki’s crimes hit uncomfortably close to home for Sif, one would expect her hatred to be exceptionally intense, but she claims that because of that body-snatching encounter, she knows Loki’s evil ways better than anyone else. This Loki, she insists, is not the same as the one she knew.
Loki slinks pitifully back to the palace looking for Odin, but instead finds Freyja on the throne. She asks if Loki’s confessions are true and Loki, furious at her hypocrisy, accuses her of being pleased about the whole turn of events. Since the beginning of the series, she has been taking steps to ensure that Loki becomes evil again, and as far as her plan is concerned, Kid Loki’s death has made the future of Asgard more secure. Freyja banishes Loki to the empty space between worlds, where ey encounters Odin, or possibly a hallucination of Odin, who tells em—in an uncharacteristically comforting way—that ey must face a great deal of suffering to atone for all that has been done.
Loki is dropped out of the void back into his apartment in Manhattan, where both Verity and—gasp!—Evil Future Loki are waiting for em. To Loki’s distress, Future Loki tells Verity in uncompromising detail not only about Loki’s murder and body-snatching, but about eir time with the Young Avengers, when ey let a dimensional parasite run rampant, destroyed a relationship, and convinced a depressed kid to attempt suicide. At the end of all this, Verity decides she has finally had enough of Loki’s shenanigans and storms out of the apartment. This is the point at which things take a turn for the weird, as Loki finds emself stripped, gagged, and tied to a chair as Future Loki cackles maniacally.
The most dismaying (though not surprising) element of this issue is that Verity has finally jumped the SS Loki, while Sif, astonishingly, may be considering coming aboard, or at least not deliberately sinking it. As for Odin, it’s hard to say if Loki’s encounter with him in the void-space was real or imagined. Odin’s message seemed a little bit too much like exactly what Loki needed to hear: that ey is loved, that eir identity is valid, and that there is a possibility for redemption. Then again, Odin expressed similar sentiment in Thor & Loki: The Tenth Realm when Loki spent a few issues in female form and Odin was totally on board with it.
Either way, it’s good to see that Loki still apparently wants acceptance and redemption, because there are strong indications that ey is still not actually willing to take full responsibility for eir actions. When Loki was having his face kicked in by the Warriors Three ey insisted that ey had no choice in the matter of killing Kid Loki, that ey was acting according to what ey was created to do. When Future Loki told Verity about the Young Avengers situation and Billy’s suicide attempt, Loki interrupted to say that it was more “complicated” than that. When Loki confronted Freyja, ey implied that at least Kid Loki died without having been manipulated by her cruel plan. Granted, Freyja’s designs were hardly morally sound, but it sounds suspiciously like Loki was trying to defer some blame onto her, when in reality she had nothing to do with Kid Loki’s death.
Future Loki’s claims that Loki—in any form—will never be anything other than self-serving and manipulative don’t seem too far off the mark, and I think Loki will have to realize that for emself before ey can begin to make amends. Stop in next month if you like dying slowly on the inside. We can lie on the floor and whimper together.