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New(ish) books
Loki: Agent of Asgard #1 - Ewing, Abnett
I love the basic premise of Loki, Asgardian spy, and as I expected from Ewing's work on Mighty Avengers, this had a lot of fun moments with the Avengers. For example:


The appearance of the All-Mother finally got me to go look them up, and I was fascinated to realize how new they were as a ruling body. Really, they just fascinate from start to finish. I also JUST NOW understand that there are three of them, not two as I'd gathered from Journey into Mystery, and that Gaea is the third one, which makes that entire arc make SO MUCH MORE SENSE. So I devoutly hope we will see lots more of them.

On the down side, I STILL am completely befuddled by the ins and outs of this new Loki; I suppose I shall just have to do some homework, starting with Gillen's run and working my way forward, to figure him out. The reveal on the last page didn't help me, either.

Art is indifferent. It's clear we're going for a fun, lighthearted look, but it's not doing anything much for me one way or the other.

X-Force #1 - Spurrier, Kim
The writing here is sharp, if not precisely pleasant. Spurrier has a reputation now for being off-beat and just a more distinctive voice than basically anyone writing X-books these days, and that flare definitely evident here.

I wasn't hugely enthused by how he wrote the characters - Betsy calls someone a 'walnut-brained' mistake, and Fantomex is much more French than usual (although given that his entire French accent is apparently an affectation to annoy people, I'm willing to put the sudden gaps in his English down to deliberate characterization). Mostly everyone's just unpleasant, though.

The art, though. UGH THE ART. It is so exactly the opposite of what I want from comics art, I can't even tell you. It's like it has a cloaking device; my eyes just slide right off the page. And for that reason alone, even if I loved what I saw Spurrier doing, I could not read this book. I could not. So this is a definite drop, unfortunately.

Mighty Avengers #6 - Ewing, Schiti
I would just like to point out that Ewing is the one and only author who has two books on my pull list; in fact, my enjoyment of what he's doing here is what decided me to try Loki.

Anyway, this is a downtime issue in which we drop in on various characters, both at the housewarming that prompted my Britishisms post yesterday and in other locations. I love the Sam Wilson reveal towards the end, even though it's not really a reveal to us.

I'm thoroughly confused, by the way, as to who the actual members of Luke's newly formed team are.

Mostly this issue was interesting for how it illustrated for me how much goes into art besides the pencils. Valerio Schiti is here subbing for Greg Land for a few issues, and certainly he is less cringy than land. However, I do not love the art here remotely as much as I loved it in JiM, which, as you will recall, was quite a lot. For one thing, there is very little visual humor here like we saw in JiM. JiM repeatedly used a sort of repeating panel effect, as shown in that link above, but there's none of that here. Nor is there the vastness of scale that we often saw in JiM, in Sif vs the dragon or Sif floating in space in her space suit. I think this must be down to setting - this is not a cosmic book - and writing. I'm still fuzzy on how much a writer affects the final layouts and panel-by-panel divisions, and I gather that varies from book to book. However, I have to assume that at least some of the visual interest and especially visual humor in JiM was down to Immonen's direction.

Possibly also it's because this is not Schiti's book; as I said, there's less cringiness here than when Land draws, but it does not look nearly so dramatically different as I expected, which suggests Schiti's probably trying to capture Land's general feel as much as possible. Alas, Land is absolutely not one to be providing bonus visual interest of any kind. This isn't to say that Schiti doesn't vary the perspectives and such here, but again, there's none of that creativity we saw in JiM. Since Schiti is a fill-in artist, he may also just not have had the time or inclination to put his particular stamp on it; as soon as he finished with drawing #9, he moved on to some issues of New Avengers.

The other key reason this looks so much more of a piece with previous Mighty Avengers art than it does JiM is that the colorist is the same - one Frank D'Armata. He doesn't offend the eyes or anything, but nor does it invite me in. Basically Jordie Bellaire is a goddess, and she needs to color EVERYTHING.

Meanwhile, unrelatedly, this happened:


Given the politicization of African-American hair, I would like to think that this is writer Ewing's pointed commentary on Monica's costume redesign, but I am not optimistic. So this struck a pretty sour note for the issue.

Black Widow #2 - Edmondson, Noto
After two issues of this, I'm starting to recognize some patterns.
* plot aimlessness. I have approximately zero interest in these simple, one-issue missions that are in theory some sort of commentary on Natasha's character but don't really add up to anything. At all.
* NARRATION. Dear heavens, Edmondson, shut up. Quit telling us stuff about Natasha and show us. Only a very few writers are clever enough to make voiceover compelling, and you are not one of them.
* bleakness.
* lack of supporting characters. We've got Isaiah, who seems to be intentionally bland, and Liho, who is a cat. No wonder Natasha is having to narrate her own story.

This meeting with Maria suggests that maybe a plot will get moving from here. Here's hoping. These first two issues have honestly felt pretty lifeless.

Old book:
Deadpool #15 - Posehn/Duggan, Shalvey/Bellaire
I haven't been reading Deadpool, but someone pointed me to this arc when I was enthusing about the Shalvey/Bellaire art team-up on Moon Knight. Alas, the first issue of the arc is just now up on MU, but it gives me something to look forward to.

This was fun, basically. It has Deadpool and Wolverine facing off with bad people, and there's an adorable cameo from Storm, and Steve Rogers dispenses advice in the middle of battle. And the art is, if not so carefully stylized as the Moon Knight previews, still delightful as promised.

This is possibly my favorite Wolverine panel ever:


Crossposted from Dreamwidth. Comment here or there. (comment count unavailable DW replies)

Comments

( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
ladymercury_10
Feb. 28th, 2014 06:17 am (UTC)
this is not a cosmic book
I had to read this several times as I thought it said "comic book," and I was like, wait no yes it is, isn't the whole point of this post comic books? :P

I didn't make it past the first issue of Black Widow--I agree, it felt kind of plotless.
snickfic
Feb. 28th, 2014 08:56 pm (UTC)
HA HA. To be fair, JiM technically wasn't a cosmic book either (I think the term is reserved for books IN SPAAACE), but it certainly was much more interested in its SFF setting, where Mighty Avengers is much more a superhero in the present day kind of thing.

I WANT Black Widow to be good, and the art's fine, but there's no spark. Plus this Natasha isolated and going on about having no connections and no home, feels like several steps back from what we saw in, say, Name of the Rose. :\
shapinglight
Feb. 28th, 2014 08:19 am (UTC)
That Loki panel is priceless. Just goes to show how aware comics writers are these days of goings on in fandom.

ETA: I know what you mean about the confusion surrounding Loki these days. I, too, have been trying to catch up with his story only to find that some parts of it are so hard to find and rare that I may never catch up with it all.

So far, I've gathered that the original Loki gave his life to save Asgard in a Marvel-wide storyline called Siege (I know why comics companies do these things, but I hate them). However, Thor missed Loki so much (I know. Weird) that he somehow brought him back to life (or found a kid who he realised was Loki reborn - I'm unclear on this) as a kid. This happened in a Thor story called The World Eaters. Then follows (I think) Gillen's run on Journey Into Mystery, which appears to be one story called Fear Itself (it's parts of this story that now seem to be prohibitively expensive), which ends with another Thor story called Everything Burns. I'm assuming that Kid Loki as a young Avenger is supposed to be happening at the same time as Gillen's JIM story, at the end of which the 'real' Loki returns, but still in a kid's body.

Heh! It's taken me ages to work this out and it may not be right. I've no idea who the All Mothers are, or (as yet) what happened to Odin. I daresay there's a Wiki somewhere that explains it.

In fact, here is one, though this is about Loki prior to being kiddified (and makes it even more mysterious why Thor would want him back).

And here is a very useful guide to Kid Loki on Tumblr. Seems I wasn't too far out after all. Still have no idea when the All Mothers first appeared, though.

Edited at 2014-02-28 09:51 am (UTC)
claudiapriscus
Feb. 28th, 2014 12:00 pm (UTC)
Loki had this complicated plot in Siege that wasn't entirely revealed until later. Among other things, he made a deal with Hela to get himself off death's books, which was part of a plot to, also among other things, get himself reincarnated as an innocent new version of himself.

Thor was going around resurrecting gods in general, which is a thing he could do because of Reasons (I've mostly picked up on this as backstory, so I don't know what was actually going on). He missed Loki, so he found reincarnated Loki and brought him back to himself- although, to his surprise, as a child not as the old Loki.

Kid Loki runs around having adventures and being an adorable and sympathetic scamp, showing why Thor hadn't just been able to write him off in the first place. He's pretty much hated by all of asgard, but for his brother, a pet magpie that is the embodiment of his older, evil self's memories (he calls it Ikol), and Leah, the handmaiden of Hela whose job is basically to make sure Loki doesn't wriggle out of his debts to Hela.

Then the Fear Itself event hits, which was a big crossover event. The asgardian parts of this are actually a pretty good story IMO, it's just the other title's involvement that feels particularly superfluous.

Odin is really determined to break the cycle of Ragnarok, especially because Thor is prophesied to die fighting the serpent. The serpent is actually Odin's evil older brother (there's some really neatly illustrated backstory on this scattered here and there, neat both in the story telling and in the art styles). The serpent is able to kind of enslave people through fear, and the last time Odin had to fight them, he basically had to do the equivalent of nuking the site from orbit to keep it from spreading. Now that the serpent is loose, he locks Thor up to keep him from going and fighting, tells all Asgard to get a move on, because they are leaving Earth and he's going to fry the whole place to keep it from spreading.

So while that whole story is going on, Loki is sneaking around the edges doing everything he can, making all sorts of bargains, writing checks that can't be cashed, that sort of thing trying to save Thor.

And in the end, what he does is rewrites a very, very small portion of the serpent's history, giving him one moment of softness...So that Thor can win. Not live, that's beyond his control, but win. And so Thor does, and then dies as prophesied, at which point Odin says "fuck everything", grabs the body of his dead evil brother, and kicks everyone out of the nine realms (well, except earth), and locks himself away in Asgard.

And that's how the All-Mothers and Asgardia came to be. It's a republic made up of all the realms exiled on earth, lead by the All Mothers, who tend to send Loki on little errands.

Anyway, lots of other fun stuff happens, eventually leading to Everything Burns. Loki's victories have really all been dependent on keeping a lot of different plates spinning, and this is the point at which they all come crashing down.

He pulls off an amazing, heartwarming victory, and then discovers the whole thing has been a long-con by his evil older self, who was waiting for Kid Loki to redeem his name before springing a trap (one which is DAMNABLY visible from the very beginning, once you see it,argh). Kid Loki is faced with a choice: he can let his older, evil self completely overwrite him, or billions will die. He tries to wriggle out of it- not to save himself, but to deny his evil self victory, going to soul-eaters, for example, to see if they can completely erase him from existence. But in the end, he has no choice. But before he gives in, he gives his older self one last fuck you: By deciding as he does, Kid Loki has proven that he can change, something his older self always desired and never managed. Kid Loki wins, Evil Loki loses.

So evil loki overwrites younger loki, and realizes that the kid was right. By doing so, he has effectively damned himself to keep repeating all the patterns he set this whole thing up to escape.

And it's sometime after that that Young Avengers starts.
shapinglight
Feb. 28th, 2014 01:01 pm (UTC)
Wow, thanks for the very detailed explanation. Poor Kid!Loki.

So the Kid Loki in Young Avengers was always Original Loki in Kid Loki's body?

Also, Thor obviously didn't stay dead. When did he come back, if you know?
claudiapriscus
Feb. 28th, 2014 01:39 pm (UTC)
Yeah, Kid Loki in Young Avengers was actually the bastard who murdered him and stole his body. That's why he had the guilt.

Thor coming back to life was...complicated. One of the deals Loki made to save Thor was actually kind of a trick someone else was playing on him. He made a deal with three mad mystical desert women (a maiden, a mother, and a crone), but it turns out that one of them was secretly in league with some of Asgard's enemies and was playing the other two. After Odin left, after Thor's funeral, basically everyone forgot Thor ever existed. He was replaced in their minds by someone called...Tanarus or something like that. So now Thor isn't even just dead, he's been erased from existence. This was the plot of the evil mad desert woman, because Tanarus is secretly a troll or something who is going to strike down the all-mothers and thus fracture Asgardia, leaving it open to be conquered. Only Loki had the feeling that he was an imposter, but couldn't remember why. So he went around being angry and confused, until he was struck by lightning, at which point he remembered Thor, at least somewhat. But he still was the only one who did until he ran into Donald Blake, whose walking stick he stole (for reasons even Loki was unclear on) and then ran into the SIlver Surfer, who also didn't remember Thor, much to Loki's disgust. But the SIlver Surfer noticed that the stick was not actually a stick, and managed to get it to reveal itself as Mjolinr. Which neither of them could move. Meanwhile, Thor was kind of in the purgatory of Dead Gods, all of whom were forgetting themselves and being eaten/absorbed my a monster. Thor hears Loki's shouting at the Silver Surfer, some how, and suddenly remembers himself. He calls on Mjolinir, which goes rocking it off. The silver surfer tries to chase it but finds it disappears. Thor then does battle with the god-devourer and escapes, and since his death was kind of erased, he's alive. Meanwhile, Heimdall also suspected something was up with Tanarus, and reveals him to be an imposter. At which point all hell breaks loose, there is fighting, and then Thor shows up and saves the day.

There's also a really cute thing where Loki ends up with a pet dog while Thor is dead and forgotten, and even before he remembers anything, ends up naming him Thori. (this particular hell-puppy is incorrigible and everyone keeps recommending that he throw it down the world tree, including his evil other self, but Kid Loki is determined that it is going to prove itself to be the Best of Dogs.)
shapinglight
Feb. 28th, 2014 02:14 pm (UTC)
Thanks. Is this all in JiM or does some of take place in Thor's own title?
claudiapriscus
Feb. 28th, 2014 02:40 pm (UTC)
Anything beyond Loki's own schemes tend to take place in Thor's title. So the background on the serpent, Loki's sneaking around making deals with the mad desert women (they're in my head that way because at one point, Loki has to go rappelling down the world tree and says to himself, 'believe the mad desert women, Loki, believe the mad desert women," to get up his courage, and then after jumping says, 'I hate the mad desert women'), thor's death and return, that's all under Thor.

Journey into Mystery at that point touches upon what's going on in Thor, but is more involved in setting up the next bit of Loki's adventure, so it spends an issue or two tying up loose ends (e.g. an issue that's Volstagg's retelling of his involvement to his kids), briefling referencing/establishing what's going on with Thor (e.g. Loki made all sorts of bad deals, but blew up the serpent's stronghold and created the moment of weakness that let Thor defeat him, thor died, but no one remembers...) and focusing on the fall out of all the stuff Loki was doing (e.g. what happens to the Disir, the soul-eaters Old Loki screwed over, and that Kid Loki kind of had to continue screwing over as part of a larger plot...what happens with the All-Mothers find out some of the things Loki did to win, like freeing Sutur (scolded him and told him they were putting him to work), what happens with Hela and Leah....basically establishing the new status-quo for the next arc.) Also, hell-puppies. Loki get stuck with a whole litter of them and has an issue of finding them homes, which is great, and how he ends up with Thori. (It's the one no one wanted because it was a soulless monster with no redeeming features). There's a mini-arc that deals with Loki grieving for his brother while he's dead and no one else remembers (and trying to play the hero, like Thor would want.) Most brutally, it's that arc that presages his downfall. It's basically the gun that goes off in act III.

When Thor is alive again, JiM deals with a crossover with the New Mutants, which is pretty great. (As a result of some of Loki's manuevering, a bunch of unintended stuff happens, resulting in the asgardians getting whammied into being normal san franciscans, with only the new mutants aware that anything's wrong.)
shapinglight
Feb. 28th, 2014 07:17 pm (UTC)
This version of Loki, just like the old one, seems to be constantly plotting something. It's just that his motivations aren't always as selfish as they were.

Also, his dysfunctionality (which should be a word if it's not) seems almost cute because he's a kid.

In fact, there's probably no 'almost' about it. Thanks for all the info. Much appreciated.
snickfic
Feb. 28th, 2014 08:58 pm (UTC)
Just goes to show how aware comics writers are these days of goings on in fandom.

Yup. Most of the major Marvel writers and nearly all the artists are on Tumblr these days, which means the Teen Wolf/SPN/Sherlock/Avengers fannish melee is just one ill-advised search away.

Thank you for the links! Between you and claudiapriscus, I should be all set. I hadn't realized Loki's recent backstory was nearly that complicated. :\
claudiapriscus
Feb. 28th, 2014 09:06 pm (UTC)
Comics! *shrug* To be fair, that's all spread out over like 40 comics and a couple of years.
shapinglight
Feb. 28th, 2014 09:52 pm (UTC)
Not just his recent backstory. His whole story since pretty much forever. Though I agree that from what claudiapriscus says it seems to have been extra-complicated recently.
kikimay
Feb. 28th, 2014 09:43 am (UTC)
Gillen's Kid!Loki run is really good. I don't read Marvel comics, I just did an exception because it's Loki and I really recommend it to anyone who likes the character. Plus the art is really great.
Eventually I'm going to read Agent of Asgard. I'm a sucker for Norse bros moments.
snickfic
Feb. 28th, 2014 08:59 pm (UTC)
Uh. If you happened to want a digital issue of Agent of Asgard #1, I could hook you up. PM me if you're interested
kikimay
Feb. 28th, 2014 09:30 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much! I'm planning to wait a little, to see how that story goes, and eventually read it.
claudiapriscus
Feb. 28th, 2014 10:19 pm (UTC)
I saw the rest of the scan of the Mighty Avengers thing, I think it WAS a pointed remark, especially since the next panel is "it only burned a little!" and Monica's FACE in response.
snickfic
Feb. 28th, 2014 11:34 pm (UTC)
I would like to think you are right. It's a better alternative than "British author is really tone-deaf writing American racially-charged themes."
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )

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