What to do when stuck at home with two ill children – try and catch up on all the comic reading you missed for the last 20 years. Also brush up on your mythology.
I have been consistently hating on (comic and movie) Loki’s horned helmet for decades, but now, thanks to the evidence of the Loki Stone from Kirby Steven church in Cumbria UK, it’s become clear to me that the ram’s horns are as authentic as you can get. The Snaptun stone in Denmark, where you can tell it’s him by the scarred lips, also has cute little horns. So, since horns appear to be obligatory, I shall resign myself to them on the grounds of “love me, love my silly hat.”
Much of my reading over the past week has been comics. I thought I couldn’t go wrong with a run written by J Michael Straczynski of Babylon 5 fame, but aside from the slight novelty of Loki spending (almost) the entire run in female form, the story was not exactly original or challenging. And while I applaud anyone actually showing Loki’s canon indifference to gender, and I think he’s a lot more stylish as a woman, it’s not really enough to carry a story in which in every other respect nothing at all unexpected happens to anyone.
Thor, Tales of Asgard is fun but forgettable, with some cute brotherly interaction between teenage Thor and Loki, but not much else to recommend it. I enjoyed it but was not blown away. But if the new series of Journey into Mystery comics written by Kieron Gillen carries on in the vein in which it’s started, then it’s going to be EPIC.
Imagine a story about child!Loki written by Neil Gaiman and gorgeously illustrated in a painterly rather than comic-book style, and you’ll come close to how great this first issue is. Little Loki is serious, curious, capable, still slightly sinister, irreverent and adorable.
And he has the most fantastic conversation with the ghost of his dead elder self – I mean already we’re in “Wow, cool idea!” territory, without even getting to what the conversation is about.
I thoroughly approve of elder!Loki’s stated purpose in getting himself killed – because he couldn’t bear the fact that he’d become so obviously evil that he was predictable. Just what I was thinking myself through the Straczynski bits 🙂 How can you not love that as a reason to die? And I love the fact that this dangles in front of the reader the tantalizing possibility that child!Loki might grow up differently this time – to be the unpredictable (but not completely bad) trickster that he might have been in early mythology.
On the other hand, I also thoroughly love the possibility that elder!Loki was just saying that, but has actually planned to make a takeover bid over the boy later down the line. (Not that if elder!Loki went up against child!Loki – the elder version would necessarily win. I offer this magnificent smackdown as evidence: )
I’ve just got hold of #623 and it’s already both delighted and saddened me. I’m delighted because I still have no idea how the story will unfold or what will happen in the end. And I’m saddened because it’s already getting stuck into the question of predestination – if you are predestined to be a villain, is there any getting out of it? So far in this story Loki has got himself killed and reborn without half of his memories or powers in order to escape from the influence of his past actions, his fate and even his own personality. (Which I think is pretty awesome already.) And still you can almost see the justifiable suspicion and hostility of everyone around him, and his own attempts at doing something heroic, pushing him right back into the “sorry, you were just made to be evil” corner.
And you know, people diss comic-books all the time, but I haven’t read a novel in a long time that has tackled such a big subject in such an entertaining way. So far, at least, it’s epic storytelling at its best, and kind of horrifying at the same time. This is why I don’t believe in predestination – because it sucks. I swear I’m already braced for the possibility that the end of the story is going to break my heart. Considering that Marvel probably needs one of its greatest villains to carry on being a villain, my determined hope for a happy ending seems unlikely to be fulfilled.
So yes, my researches into what I’ve missed in the Thor comics over the past 20 years have turned up one disappointing story, one OK one, and one (so far) superb one. Not a bad average, and I’ve barely scratched the surface.
Has anyone read The World Eaters or #618-622? I’ve heard bad things about the World Eaters, and nothing at all about 618-622 (do they even have an arc name?) Is it worth me getting hold of them?
I do wish they wouldn’t make it so damn difficult to find out which bit of what story goes where!