I love a story that surprises me with compassion. One of the reasons I fell in love with Doctor Who back in the Ninth Doctor’s day was because of the Doctor’s dedication to peaceful solutions—his eagerness to rejoice when he’s able to navigate a problem so that everyone survives it. So it was with surprise and joy that I discovered that a new Marvel series that I had picked up entirely for its lineup, which consisted of many of my favorite characters, was serving up these sorts of storylines.
Well, true believers, we’ve reached the seventeenth and final issue of Loki: Agent of Asgard, and in spite of the many annoyances up to this point, Ewing has done a pretty swell job of wrapping things up in a positive and meaningful way. The issue focuses on emotional resolutions more than tangible ones, which helps to clarify what Loki’s underlying character is really like after his several deaths and rebirths. As universe-ending cataclysms go, this one turned out minimally cliché and we finally seem to have gotten back to the series actually being about Loki—now that it’s over, of course.
Why do they all have beards? What is it with gods and beards?
I’m sure someone somewhere has already tallied how many full-scale apocalypses the Marvel universe has been through. The number is sure to be dwarfed only by the number of apocalypses it has avoided. Well, we were less lucky than average this time, because the gods are dead (along with everyone else) and reality has been destroyed. Way to jazz up a Wednesday afternoon. As I mentioned before, this latest disaster is part of a larger Marvel event called Secret Wars that has something to do with all the Nine Realms all smashing into each other, but the immediate problem in Loki: Agent of Asgard is that Evil Old Man Loki has aligned himself with Hela and freed Jormungandr to attack Asgard. Meanwhile, back on Earth, Loki Nouveau (ie “The God(dess) of Stories”) remembers only one clear thing from eir prior life, and it’s that Verity Willis was eir only real friend.
There’s something macabre about wearing your friend as jewelry.
Welp, the whole Marvel universe is coming to an end. Again. You know, as usual, thanks to yet another over-arching Marvel tie-in event called Secret Wars that Loki: Agent of Asgard has been awkwardly shoehorned into. To be honest, I have only the most general idea of what is going on in the rest of this tie-in, because like most people I can’t be bothered to read dozens of other series in conjunction with this one, but suffice to say that the world is ending. This marks the fourth such multi-series tie-in in just fourteen issues of Agent of Asgard, which leaves very little room for the actual title character of the series to develop while ey is busy playing backup to everyone else’s central plotlines.
Then again, there is the issue of whether or not the title character even is the same title character that we started the series with. The awkward young Loki we have come to know (and love?) has now been remade yet again into the bedraggled, slightly sickly-looking “God of Stories” who seems to have inherited only the vaguest impressions of young Loki’s memories.
At long last, here comes Verity to save the day! But I’m getting ahead of myself; last you all heard in #12, Loki was still tied up and on fire as Future Loki explained the immutability of fate.That condition persists, but now with the understanding that said fire is metaphorical fire, and in the conflagration, Loki is confronting the specters of eir former selves as future Loki goes right on cackling, like he do. In the dreary headspace Loki finds emself in, Original Loki and Kid Loki both wait, swathed in an eerie green glow, to give em life advice.
What’s a group of Lokis called? A murder? A fib? A failure?
In the highly unlikely event that anyone has forgotten the incredibly compromised position our hero found emself in at the end of Agent of Asgard #11, allow me to recap in brief:
Tied to a chair
Up to speed? Good. With things looking unusually grim even by Loki’s standards, Evil Future Loki takes the opportunity to regale his captive audience with the story of why he—in all his evil, bitter old man-ness—is Current Loki’s only possible fate. Of course Evil Future Loki is a vicious madman, but under the circumstances, it’s becoming hard to disbelieve him.
For the sake of clarity, I find it prudent to point out that while Current Loki is genderqueer and is referred to using the neutral pronouns ey/em on this blog, Future Loki seems to reject, and even mock, this facet of his past self’s identity, so Future Loki is referred to as he/him.
*sounds of Stannis Baratheon raging in the distance*
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.
Remember how I told you last month that Agent of Asgard #9 was devastatingly depressing and that it would probably ruin your day? Well I’m beginning to think that maybe you should just curl up under a rock and read only Mameshiba factoidsfor the rest of your life, because the feels just keep on getting feelier.
The figurative cat is out of the… well, the meat suit, in Agent of Asgard #10. A combination of curious events from the last several issues has left Loki unable to tell lies of any kind, and Thor—by an accident of phrasing—forces Loki to reveal what the reader has known all along: that Old Loki has killed eir reborn child self, taken over its body, and has been living in that stolen body for years now. In doing so, ey has deliberately allowed everyone else to believe that Old Loki was still Kid Loki, the mischievous but good-hearted child whom most people in Asgard had come to accept. Understandably, Thor does not take the news well.
Holiday Pro Tip: if you happen to celebrate Christmas and if you happen to be emotionally invested in dweeby young adult Loki, I sincerely hope you have not read Agent of Asgard #9. You have trusted me thus far in spite of my clearly being a no-good scoundrel, so just take my word for it: don’t read the issue and don’t read this review of the issue until you are ready to have a dim, distracting miasma of feels shadowing your festivities. Suffice to say that Loki got everything ey always wanted, and it was terrible and tragic and heartbreaking.
Eir heart grew three sizes that day… and then it was pulverized and stomped on repeatedly and burned in a fire.
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.