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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Take a step back everyone, it’s time for a bombshell: I am finally reasonably convinced that Al Ewing is genuinely and deliberately making an effort to portray Loki as genderfluid (or at least, something other than cisgender). Regular readers will recall that I had some issues with Ewing’s semantics regarding Loki’s gender and sexuality, but this concern and many others have been assuaged by Loki: Agent of Asgard #5, wherein Lorelei utilizes her other talents, Verity saves everyone’s butts, and Loki finally catches up with… Loki.
After a confusing series of deaths, reincarnations, and redesigns, Marvel’s Loki is now starring in his own solo series: Loki: Agent of Asgard, and interestingly, the ill-gotten body he’s inhabiting these days happens to be late adolescent and devastatingly attractive.
In what seems to be an unapologetic attempt to cash in on Tom Hiddleston’s glorious face, the pert-nosed, bright-eyed, twelve-year-old Loki of Kieron Gillen’s Journey into Mystery has been overtaken by the shadow of his old self, and has grown into quite the swarthy, chiseled specimen to boot. Though Loki has never before been deliberately framed as an object of attraction in the comics, it’s no secret that Hiddleston’s portrayal of Loki in the Thor and Avengers films has earned him an overwhelmingly female fandom.
Marvel, it seems, is more than happy to give the people what they want, and in a laudable attempt at embracing diversity, Agent of Asgard writer Al Ewing has officially stated that Loki is canonically bisexual and “will shift between genders occasionally”. If this can be taken to mean that Loki is actually gender fluid (as opposed to, say, using female form simply for deceit, which he has done before) he is the first significant Marvel character to identify as such.
Unfortunately, Marvel does have a history of floundering in their attempts to write male protagonists for a female audience. A solo series starring Wolverine’s son Daken as a sexy, edgy anti-hero crashed pretty hard when readers realized that its only hook was “debauched bisexual quotes Nietzsche, hates father, and is occasionally shirtless”. Ewing and Garbett are now tasked with maintaining interest in a series that could very easily dissolve into “debauched bisexual quotes lolcats, hated father, and is occasionally shirtless”.
The question, of course, is: are they succeeding? Are Ewing and artist Lee Garbett (two straight men; an interesting choice, in my opinion) giving readers what they want and deserve in a female-targeted nontraditional comic, or have they set out with good intentions only to miss the mark entirely? Continue reading