MENU

comics reviews
Tag Archive

5929

God of Comics – Loki, Agent of Asgard

Books & Writing, Culture, God Of Comics, Reviews

August 20, 2015

The title was what drew me in.

Loki – Agent of Asgard. There was something appealing about that, the idea that every other power in the Marvel universe has entire agencies set up to spy on everyone else, to feed the, misinformation and carry out covert operations, and the Asgardians turned to Loki and said “this is what we want you to do.”

loki 001

Very self aware, this comic.

The mythos is what kept me. I’ve been calling this title part of the Mythic Marvel line, along with Angela and Thor, and this trinity has been among the best comics Marvel has ever published. The art in all three of them has been radically different and from everything else and one another and the stories, ye gods. This is what happens when three different writers of quality decide they have stories to tell.

Angela is about honor and obligation, about nature versus nurture, about faith and discovery. Thor is about heroism in a world that is more than black and white, and what a god owes his people. And Loki? Loki is about identity, about belonging, about change and how difficult it can be to change, and to explain the full impact of this comic you need to understand what came before it.

Loki is, traditionally, the God of Mischief in the Norse pantheon. He’s an agent of chaos that serves order, blood brother to Odin, and he solves more problems than he causes. He calls out the gods on their hypocrisy, and in this last aspect he came to the Marvel Universe to tweak Thor around a bit. Thor had become a hero, and so Loki became a villain.

It was supposed to be a roll, but it was one he became trapped in. He became the God of Lies, but he was also savvy enough to know that he was a comic book character and that he was trapped. Over the past decade, he’s done everything possible to escape that: kicked off Ragnarok, helped with the resurrection of the Asgardians, sacrificed himself to save everyone, and was reborn as an innocent child.

And then the child was caught and butchered by his past self – only not really. He thought this happened, but it didn’t, and good people that think they’ve become evil will often indulge in evils that leave villains terrified. Still, Loki rejected the evil definition set for him, and that brings us to the start of this series.

Odin has gone off into self-exile because he’s a prat, really. The All-Mothers of Asgard hire Loki to be their agent, and pay him with stories. Notably, they will erase one story of Loki’s villainy for every mission he carries out. With every erased story, he believes he can escape the definition that he was trapped in.

And this is amazing. We get Loki messing with the Avengers, Loki going on speed dates, Loki being generally awesome. We see Loki make friends with a woman named Verity Wells, we see Loki trying to make a life for himself. And we also see that the All-Mothers are secretly unwilling to let Loki be anything other than a villain.

See, people like known quantities. Even if you’re a toxic person and you change for the better, there are people that will prefer that you stay toxic simply because it means that they don’t have to adjust their thinking. So, when an Evil Loki appears, they work with him, too. Loki knows something is up and discovers what’s going on and is shocked by it, horrified.

“Why would you work with him?” Loki demands of the All-Mothers.

“You’re the only one who wants to change,” the All-Mothers reply. “The rest of us are comfortable.”

We learn that Evil Loki is our version, but from the future. See, he did it. He got rid of all the old stories, became a hero, and found acceptance – but the other Asgardians kept calling him the God of Lies. It didn’t matter who he had become, known of them would accept him for who he was. It poisoned him, drove him mad.

"What do you call it when you tie yourself up? Other than hot?"

“What do you call it when you tie yourself up? Other than hot?”

A friend of mine once told me, “If you do a thing for a thank you, you do it for the wrong reason. Act because you could not live with yourself if you did less.” It took me a long time to understand what he meant.

If you’re going to change you have to do it for yourself. If you change for others and they don’t acknowledge it – and there is always the chance that they won’t – then you’re going to crumble.

Evil Loki changed for the acknowledgment of others and when they didn’t give him what he wanted from them, he crumbled and became a villain. He came back in time to hurry the process of his becoming evil, but in the process he saved both himself and the him that was not that thing.

Like the Loki of old, he exposed the hypocrisies of everyone around him, unveiling the lies of the Asgardians as a whole before nearly destroying himself. He knew Secret Wars was coming because he knows he is a comic book character, and he nearly side-stepped the whole mess to continue his own narrative and became involved in one of the most heartfelt and interesting battles of self that has ever been committed to page.

I tear up every time I read this.

I tear up every time I read this.

Those of us that have been broken will understand. Those of that have been left alone know exactly what that one page means. It the hands of a lesser writer this would have been a physical fight, and the writer is even able to make a mockery of that concept. This is the perfect place to end this title and to show that Loki has evolved – not a God of Lies, or even a God of Mischief, Loki has become the God of Stories.

As good as this comic is, it wouldn’t have been possible without Kieron Gillan’s Journey into Mystery and Young Avengers. That was the fertile ground that this story grew from and you should check those comics out, too, but you don’t have to.

The writer of this series has been Al Ewing. He writes a host of Marvel comics right now and is one of the best writers they have right now, which is saying something: this is a company that employs Warren Ellis, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Kieron Gillen, Jason Aaron, Mark Waid, Marguerite Bennett, and Brian Michael Bendis, among others.

Ewing stands among them due to an incredible ability to draw upon continuity and character, weaving different aspects of the absurdly rich history of comics and ending up with something new, insightful, and fresh. His work elsewhere has been amazing, but this? Loki Agent of Asgard is a masterpiece, an opus of the storytelling craft, and it firmly places him among the greats.

Comics are a visual medium, though, and a comic with this sort of concept needs an incredible art team to capture the moments that matter. Lee Garbett captured every beat, broken or heartfelt or funny. His work with design, body language, and facial expression made this comic feel real, and the coloring of Antonio Fabela captured light and dark and those colors that Loki himself moves between. Even the lettering, by Clayton Cowles, goes towards furthering the story. Read the comic and you’ll understand.

And read this comic. Hunt down the trades and pass it on, because this is a story that needs telling and sharing, an epic worthy of the sagas and the bards of the ancient world. This is a story complex and tragic and triumphant, a story that will move the heart, warm it and chill it and warm it again. It is a story that will make you laugh and cry and think.

It’s a story that will haunt you, and it should. A story that you can talk about, and share with friends.

Thank you, Al Ewing, Lee Garbett, Anotnio Fabela, and Clayton Cowles, for telling it, and thank you, Marvel Comics, for letting them.

We can’t wait to see what’s next.

Read article

770

Nerdcouver on Comics – Episode 013

nerdcouver, Reviews

July 30, 2015

No, you’re not going crazy. We’re releasing episode 13 before 11 and 12 due to the fact that one of us uses a Mac and someone’s video camera is apparently super biased towards Windows. Bring forth the comics!

This week we talk about Cyborg, Fight Club 2, Grayson, Enormous, Sons of the Devil, Archie vs Predator, Death Book, TMNT Casey & April, and Prez!

Episodes 11 and 12 have been converted to files that will work on Mac so the editing can begin!
Also coming your way, some more non-comicy reviews!

Nerdcouver is and can be found at:

Aaron Golden @lastswann

Nathan Rayes @natemayes

Reva Dawn @maplebunnie

Jenna Táralóm @novavandorwolf

Read article

1856

God of Comics 2015-04-29

God Of Comics, Reviews

April 30, 2015

This Week: Batman #40, Conan / Red Sonja #1-4, Convergence #4, Convergence – Detective Comics #1, Convergence – Blue Beetle #1, Convergence – Booster Gold #1, Daredevil #15, Hellbreak #2, He-Man – the Eternity War #5, Jem and the Holograms #2, Moon Knight #14, Pisces #1, Princess Leia #3, Quantum and Woody Must Die #4, Red One #2, Scarlett Couture #1, SHIELD #5, Silk #3, Sunstone Vol. 2, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #45, Wayward #7, X-Men #26

 

 

Batman #40 – Top 5 Comics

Batman 040If this were to be the last Batman comic – if this was it, if there was going to be nothing to come afterwards, if this was the end of Bruce Wayne – this comic would be a worthy way to end it all. Batman uses his family and his enemies to bring the fight to a Joker that has made himself out to be so much more than human, and the fight that results plays to the myths of both characters. There’s some beautiful artwork and a beautiful meditation on the nature of Bruce Wayne and the symbol that he became. Drawing on everything that was built from the Court of Owls until this very issue, this is about as good as a Bat-climax could be.

Art LMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of Life One Quarter + Story LMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of Life Three Quarters + Gateway LMM Tree of Life = Total LMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of Life

 

Conan / Red Sonja #1-4

Conan Red Sonja 001The art is a little uneven, but the writing is not – we get the best kind of story you can get from these two characters, the sort of thing that Robery E. Howard would have been proud of – outer gods and the magicians who fail to understand them being stopped by people of destiny over a period of lifetimes. It’s a fun little story that I’m going to have to pick up in trade.

Art LMM Tree of Life + Story LMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of Life One Quarter + Gateway LMM Tree of Life = Total LMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of Life One Quarter

 

Convergence #4

Convergence 004Oh, gods. Where do I even begin? Unless you’re a DC Stalwart you’re not going to recognize the Irish line of heroes that came out back in the nineties, and Deimos and Brainiac and Telos and all the other stuff is convoluted drivel masquerading as something deep and meaningful. It are derp. At least it almost makes sense this week.

Art LMM Tree of Life + Story LMM Tree of Life + Gateway LMM Tree of Life Half = Total LMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of Life Half

 

Convergence – Blue Beetle #1

Convergence - Blue Beetle 001The most frustrating thing about Convergence is when it does something interesting, something that you wish would play out longer. This is good. This is truly interesting, focusing on three characters and the circumstances that are driving them. It’s heroes trying to be heroic, with death having weight and consequence, and then the event happens.

Art LMM Tree of Life + Story LMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of Life One Quarter + Gateway LMM Tree of Life Half = Total LMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of Life Three Quarters

 

Convergence – Booster Gold #1

Convergence - Booster Gold 001Ugh. See, this is another that does some really interesting things and starts talking about the physical stresses of time travel, which in and of itself is an interesting idea. There’s some other chronomantic questions and philosophies explored and then we get into the rip-off He-Man world and… is He-Man a part of this? That crossover happened, right?

Art LMM Tree of Life + Story LMM Tree of Life + Gateway LMM Tree of Life Half = Total LMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of Life Half

 

Convergence – Detective Comics #1

Convergence - Detective Comics 001The hell? I liked Helena Wayne way back when, and I was excited when she became a part of the nu52. I went back and forth on that characterization of her, but it was leagues – leagues – better than whatever the hell this is. The art is not great, the writing is worse, and you’d have to really know your DC lore for any of this to make sense. Utter shit.

Art LMM Tree of Life Three Quarters + Story LMM Tree of Life Half + Gateway LMM Tree of Life One Quarter = Total LMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of Life Half

 

Daredevil #15

Daredevil 015An oddly weak issue in a much stronger narrative, this issue is really about re-introducing the classic Daredevil villain. There’s some interesting stuff here between the Owl and the Shroud and the art pops off the page. We also get to see the downside of what Matt’s done here, and what it might eventually cost. Again.

Art LMM Tree of Life + Story LMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of Life One Quarter + Gateway LMM Tree of Life = Total LMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of Life One Quarter

 

Hellbreak #2 – Top 5 Comics

Hellbreak 002One of the most interesting ideas behind a comic going on right now – a team of special operatives have found a way to break into hell, and so they go there to rescue the souls of those that have been possessed. We get to meet the team a bit this issue, and maybe get an idea as to the topography and scale of Hell. There’s also a lovely bit with a priest intimidating a demon with the threat of what it is they do, and a view of how this whole thing works. The writing is as tight as you’d expect from Cullen Bunn, with just the right mixture of dread and bravado, while the art clearly delineates this world and the people that live in it. This is outstanding stuff, as much exploration as horror.

Art LMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of Life One Quarter + Story LMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of Life Three Quarters + Gateway LMM Tree of Life = Total LMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of Life

 

He-Man – the Eternity War #5

He-Man - The Eternity War 005Skeletor has gained enlightenment. Like Loki and Deadpool before him, he’s seen the flow of narrative that defines his life. Like Megatron in the Transformers comics, he is a rebel who has seen his rebellion become something he never intended, and now rebels against rebellion itself. The fallout it fantastic, and what’s hinted at the end is moreso. Cool.

Art LMM Tree of Life + Story LMM Tree of Life + Gateway LMM Tree of Life = Total LMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of Life

 

Jem and the Holograms #2

Jem and the Holograms 002Can we all agree that the Misfits have better songs? There’s a strong belief running through the office that they do, though the way this comic is playing up their rivalry is kind of great. This thoroughly introduces the insanity that we know is coming, and the art has this weird liquidy feeling that works perfectly with the dialogue and pacing. This is – dare I say it? – outrageous.

Art LMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of Life One Quarter + Story LMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of Life One Quarter + Gateway LMM Tree of Life = Total LMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of Life Half

 

Moon Knight #14

Moon Knight 014The Wolves of Wall Street has nothing on this. Cullen Bunn has a talent for exploring the stranger sides of horror and dread, which this title lends itself to like nothing else. There’s a whole lot of interesting concepts introduced here, from favors between gods to the idea of canine personhood. This title is both haunting and haunted, and one of Marvel’s best.

Art LMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of Life One Quarter + Story LMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of Life One Quarter + Gateway LMM Tree of Life = Total LMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of Life Half

 

Pisces #1

Pisces 001You will be lost without the solicit, which might be the point. This comic throws you right into the deep end and expects you to catch up, working as a fascinating character study with some scenes that will etch themselves into your head. There’s something weird going on here, and for all the strangeness it’s hard to look away from or put down.

Art LMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of Life One Quarter + Story LMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of Life Half + Gateway LMM Tree of Life = Total LMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of Life Three Quarters

 

Princess Leia #3

Princess Leia 003Leia continues to try and save what’s left of her people, this time dealing with people that have been thoroughly traumatized by the destruction of their home world and a traitor who doesn’t realize what she’s doing wrong. The Empire turns families in on one another, but they’ve always been good at that – but Leia is better at turning enemies into allies.

Art LMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of Life One Quarter + Story LMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of Life One Quarter + Gateway LMM Tree of Life = Total LMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of Life Half

 

Quantum and Woody Must Die #4

Quantum and Woody Must Die 004Oh, this comic. The pure insanity of it. Quantum and Woody discover that their enemies brainwashed both them and the town they lived in so that everyone thought they were competent superheroes, but that might be in the past. Also, their father who is a goat who is also pregnant is going to be giving birth and the zaniness is perfect sort of lunacy. You need to read it to understand, and you really should read it.

Art LMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of Life One Quarter + Story LMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of Life One Quarter + Gateway LMM Tree of Life = Total LMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of Life Half

 

Red One #2 – Top 5 Comics

Red One 002Next issue comes out in 2016. What the shit? Who’s writing this, Frank Miller? Is this an early Image title? What the hell? It’d be easier to swallow if this wasn’t so freaking good – the artwork is just as strong as the writing, which is about a Russian hero come to save America from an institutionalized doomsday cult composed of violent religious conservatives. Aside from being perfectly topical given the horror show that the Divided States of America has become, this comic parodies a whole host of tropes and has an incredible time doing it. There’s something magical about this comic, something that veers a little too close to perfection. Tremendous.

Art LMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of Life Three Quarters + Story LMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of Life Three Quarters + Gateway LMM Tree of Life = Total LMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of Life Half

 

Scarlett Couture #1

Scarlett Couture 001-002Remember Totally Spies? This is a mix between that and Miss Congeniality and maybe a little Kim Possible. It is, in other words, a lot of fun. Super models are being kidnapped, so the security officer of a modeling agency owned by her mother goes to save them and find the culprit, who is secretly her heretofore unmentioned brother. Silly and kind of great, though the art takes some getting used to.

Art LMM Tree of Life + Story LMM Tree of Life + Gateway LMM Tree of Life = Total LMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of Life

 

SHIELD #5

SHIELD 005Someone is targeting the magic users of the Marvel Universe with anti-magic weapons created by a Troll from Asgard! Coulson and his team are on the case, and out to fight one of Marvel’s A-List villains, one we haven’t seen in a while who could easily be used to fix the mess the Avengers comics have become. He won’t, though. This is fun and better than the show.

Art LMM Tree of Life + Story LMM Tree of Life + Gateway LMM Tree of Life Three Quarters = Total LMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of Life Three Quarters

 

Silk #3

Silk 003Cindy Moon helps rehabilitate a criminal, which is good, and then runs into the Black Cat, which is bad. I’m not sure who decided making Felicia an arch-criminal was a good idea, but they were wrong. This continues to be a lot of fun, though, with witty dialogue, an intriguing heroine, and expressive art. This is everything people say they like about Spider-Man.

Art LMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of Life One Quarter + Story LMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of Life One Quarter + Gateway LMM Tree of Life = Total LMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of Life Half

 

Sunstone Vol. 2 – Top 5 Comics

Sunstone Vol 02Everything that Fifty Shades of Grey wishes it was, Sunstone is. Yes, there’s lesbian bondage drawn by one of the best artists working in comics today, and hetero bondage porn, and far too many gingers for any place that is not Silas University, so that bears mentioning. It’s not what makes this comic as charming as it is, though; that’s tied into the incredible relationships and sense of depth that these character possess, and the study by which everyone grows and changes and deals with the very real damage that they’ve had to deal with in their lives. I’ve been recommending this comic to everyone I know for a very long time, and I’m ecstatic it’s in print.

Art LMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of Life + Story LMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of Life Three Quarters + Gateway LMM Tree of Life = Total LMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of Life Three Quarters

 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #45 – Top 5 Comics

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 045People die. There’s a war on in these comics, one that features a consistent shifting of alliances – enemies become allies, allies stand divided, and sometimes people pay the dearest cost. Recently, Krang tried to terraform the world to make it more like his own home, only to find that every possible power in this world united against him. He lost and was apparently imprisoned, but everyone walked away hurting and this comic deals with the aftermath and the threat of emerging violence that comes out of that sort of grief and loss and insanity. Also, Donatello. Poor, poor Donatello nearly died and there’s some heartbreaking reactions to that near-loss. The artwork is good and the writing exquisite. This is the single best iteration of this franchise that has ever existed.

Art LMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of Life One Quarter + Story LMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of Life Three Quarters + Gateway LMM Tree of Life = Total LMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of Life

 

Wayward #7

Wayward 007It’s so easy to be taken for granted when you’re the good one. Choosing to be good? To live up to the best you can be, without thought of reward? It’s hard. It’s a difficult path made all more difficult for the ignorant commentary that come from those that can’t understand the nature of the choice. Kudos to this comic for commenting on it.

Art LMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of Life One Quarter + Story LMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of Life One Quarter + Gateway LMM Tree of Life = Total LMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of Life Half

 

X-Men #26

X-Men 026So, some humans find alien artifact and decide to make a bomb out of it, because of course they do. The X-Men stop it and people still, for some reason, trust Hank McCoy. Between this and Amazing X-Men I’m cautiously beginning to like Storm again. The finale of G. Willow Wilson’s initial run on this series, and as good as you would expect it to be because of that.

Art LMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of Life One Quarter + Story LMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of Life Half + Gateway LMM Tree of Life = Total LMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of LifeLMM Tree of Life Three Quarters

Read article

1867

God of Comics 2015-04-08

God Of Comics, Reviews

April 9, 2015

This Week: All-New Hawkeye #2, Angela – Asgard’s Assassin #5, Ant-Man #4, Birthright #6, Captain Marvel #14, Coffin Hill #17, Convergence – Batgirl #1, Convergence – Batman and Robin #1, Convergence – Harley Quinn #1, Convergence – Superman #1, Convergence – The Question #1, Darth Vader #4, Imperium #3, Max Ride – First Flight #1, Rai #8, Rat Queens #10, Rebels #1, Spider-Woman #6, X #24

(more…)

Read article