J. Michael Straczynski enjoys making you see events you think you know in a new way, to make his viewer or reader realize that things didn’t happen as they seemed, that things are far more complex than that. He added the Spider-totem elements in his “Amazing Spider-Man” run, played around with time travel in “Babylon 5” and, now, reveals the true origin of Loki.
Loki was the son of Frost Giants, different from his people, an outcast, until Odin and other Asgardians killed some Frost Giants, including Loki’s father, and Odin adopted Loki as his own. Since then, Loki has been the god of mischief and trickery, constantly hatching new schemes to take over Asgard, and have the ultimate power.
For most of Straczynski’s run on “Thor,” it has been apparent that Loki’s had plans of some sort to overthrow her (as Loki is currently a woman) adopted brother Thor. This time, she’s been using an interesting tactic: telling the truth. With the truth, he’s revealed the true parentage of Balder and set him on a collision course with Thor over the future of Asgard.
In this issue, we see the most intricate and devious element of Loki’s plans as he receives aid from Hela, and sets everything in motion. Loki’s actions are not surprising, but do call into question a lot of what we’ve read. Not only that, but the truth about Loki’s feminine appearance comes to light, and works well with scenes from previous issues.
Actually, once the reader sees exactly what Loki is doing here, elements from previous issues do, in fact, take on new lights. The two issues where Thor dealt with his issues with Odin, for example, have scenes that are no longer quite so simple, now taking on new meanings and layers. Loki’s relationship with Thor, as well, must be reexamined and judged on new terms. Like most instances of fundamentally changing a character’s past, every story we’ve read won’t line up perfectly, but this is about as good as it gets.
Olivier Coipel continues to produce stellar work on this series. His sense of drama and action is fantastic. Little touches like the various masks of Hela or not quite showing the true body that Loki inhabits make this issue a joy visually. With Straczynski’s words and Coipel’s pencils, you forget that the god of thunder, himself, doesn’t appear in this issue.
Reexamining the pasts of comic book character is not just commonplace, but an overused tactic in many modern comics, and Straczynski comes close to falling into that trap here. That the character he uses is Loki, though, redeems the idea since if there was ever a character who is believable in a story like this, it’s Loki. That everything we know about him is, somehow, wrong because of his own planning makes more sense, almost, than a straight-forward past. If the god of trickery’s past is a lie, isn’t that actually more appropriate?
(Olivier Coipel draws a mysterious, frightening and alluring Hela in CBR’s preview!)