How many times have we seen Loki kill Balder, either directly or through someone else? There’s an interesting tie-in to the mythological roots of Thor and the Aesir when Marvel tells and retells the same stories from different perspectives, in different ways, but it’s also tedious. Loki brings about Ragnarök by killing Balder. That’s the way it happens and, in the past few years, it seems to have happened a lot. In fact, at least two current mini-series for Marvel have plots rooted in that act, including, unsurprisingly, “Loki,” where, in the second issue, he kills Balder. Why? Because he’s Loki and that’s what Loki does.
That’s not to say that “Loki” #2 is without its own charms. Aguirre-Sacasa takes a different approach to Loki’s trickery and how it leads to Balder’s death, delivering a story that seems more rooted in myth-like storytelling than other versions. This is a story where the gods all get the various objects and plants and animals of the world to vow not to harm Balder, and they all agree. It’s simple and poetic. Of course, Loki doesn’t make the mistletoe tree swear to not harm Balder, because who would want to harm such a beloved god? From there, it’s a little manipulation of Balder’s aged twin brother and the Light God has gotten a spear through the chest.
Despite the small touches that he adds to the story, there’s little suspense or drama involved. We all know where it’s heading and that takes some of the fun out of it. Watching Loki manipulate others is much more entertaining where you aren’t entirely sure what his endgame is. When you see the final goal coming, it’s much more mechanical and less artful. Still, Aguirre-Sacasa has Loki’s voice and style down pat.
Where the issue excels most is in the art. Last issue, Fiumara, Lacombe, and Villarrubia impressed me with bold, fluid line work and, in this issue, they take things even further by altering their style when needed. Take a look at the opening pages and note how often the art changes subtly to show a variety of perspectives, running through the myriad of Asgardian worldviews until settling into the regular style of the book. That malleable, shifting style is exactly what’s called for in a comic about Loki. It’s nice to see his personality reflected in the art.
So far, “Loki” has been a pleasant read where the art overshadows the writing. Aguirre-Sacasa has a strong grasp of the trickster, but has chosen the one Loki-centric story that’s been done to death. He tries to add original touches and succeeds at times; it’s simply that Loki killing Balder somehow is not as inherently interesting as almost any other Loki story could be. Still, as far as Loki mini-series go, this is pretty good.