Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Loki: Agent of Asgard, Volume 1: Trust Me Review (Al Ewing, Lee Garbett)

Tom Hiddleston – what a dreamboat, right, ladies? Hubba hubba! At least, I assume that’s what his many fans think of him! Nevertheless, he’s made Loki enormously popular and well-known with his performances in the Marvel movies so it makes sense to give the character his own series.

Kid Loki from Kieron Gillen’s Young Avengers series is “dead” – long live the Harry Styles-lookalike (Loki-alike?) Loki, a twentysomething hunk who goes on James Bond-esque missions for the All-Mother! After stealing a magic sword, he breaks into Avengers Tower, goes speed-dating, takes part in a Charlie’s Angels-type heist in Monte Carlo and breaks into the deepest, darkest dungeon in Asgard. Why put himself through all of this? He’s actually trying to be more of a good guy, having the most evil parts of his past erased by the All-Mother in exchange for successful missions.

Al Ewing writes Loki well, getting that balance of charm and wickedness down pat, while slipping in enough trickery to make him the consummate anti-hero. After Gillen’s wonderful Young Avengers series, I wasn’t sure if Ewing would be able to measure up to the characterisation but he did a great job.

It starts really well with Loki breaking into Avengers Tower and totally playing the Avengers superbly. I won’t give away big moments in that episode but I loved the small scene between Hawkeye and Black Widow as Natasha watches Clint play a video game, remarking that he’s got the army and international assassins after him, he’s got zero health – and it’s a bass fishing simulator! Clint, exasperated, says something like “These things just happen to me, Nat!!” The tone of the series is perfect – light, comedic, witty throughout.

So, why didn’t I love this? Have you read Tolkien? Probably, given his massive cultural impact. I struggled through Lord of the Rings when I was in high school and then, for some reason, immediately picked up the Silmarillion. Ever read that one? This is how I remember it going:

“Blah was the son of Blug who was the son of Blog who was the son of Blogblug, who was the son of Blarh. The Fingle Fangles lived in the Flarflar Forest where the Jigjags lived alongside them. A mighty Plod was forged in the caves of Glag where the sons of Blig fought the Chuwungawungas’ ancestors, the Showaddywaddies, for control of the Wallywiggle Kawingawingas.” (Insert two pages of coma-inducing elf songs)

I made it to page 20 after a year of trying and gave up. That was 15 years ago. I’ve never returned to Tolkien since.

That’s how parts of this book read to me. When things get a bit too mythological (that droning style of narration with bizarre, repetitive names), my eyes start to glaze over and my mind starts to wander. When did I last defrost my freezer? Is that a spider? Why haven’t I seen that childhood sweet I used to have all the time in so long? Etc.

It’s completely my problem because the book is well written, but fantasy/mythology and the like don’t really appeal to me and quite a bit of this book is made up of that stuff. If you’re a fan of that kinda material, you’ll get along with Loki: Agent of Asgard a lot more, but if you’re not, parts of the book will test your attention span. It doesn’t help that the plot itself isn’t particularly interesting or fast-moving either.

Lee Garbett’s art is fantastic – it’s really beautiful throughout with wonderful character designs and some excellent scenes like a character morphing into a dragon, or Mephisto appearing. It’s the best work I’ve seen from Garbett so far and he’s always been a great artist, so the comic looks really good. 

Loki Agent of Asgard is well written, Loki’s character is nicely captured, and it has some lovely art but the story failed to engage me fully and I was bored at least half the time. It has its moments though and the fantasy crowd will get more out of this than I did.

Loki: Agent of Asgard, Volume 1: Trust Me

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