by Brain Truitt)
From the start of his new series, writer Al Ewing is giving superhero fans what they want, especially the female movie-watching contingent: Young, sexy Loki breaking into Avengers Tower and confronting the likes of his half-brother Thor, Captain America, Iron Man and the rest.
There was a conscious choice of "selling out" in the first issue of Marvel Comics' Loki: Agent of Asgard (out Wednesday), Ewing quips, "partly for fun and partly to get it out of the way early on."
However much he's leaning into that, though, Ewing is also setting up the status quo, themes and the death of an Avenger that he'll be playing with in the series that continues to explore the trickster god's penchant for change.
In the past decade, Loki's had many variations — male, female, old, teenage, supervillain, antihero — with his personality adjusting with each situation.
"At the same time, though, everyone is constantly telling him — and occasionally, he's telling himself — that he can never be anything else but Loki. 'Loki remains Loki' has been the constant refrain," says Ewing, who also writes Marvel's Mighty Avengers series.
"I'd be a fool to look that particular gift horse in the mouth — it's a question that hits where I live, in a way," he adds. "When the whole world is telling you you have to fit into the box they've made for you, how far can you get out of it? And what's the price of that?"
In the new book illustrated by Lee Garbett, Loki's been reborn again into a youthful body and taking on important missions dished out by the All-Mother, a triumvirate of the Asgardian goddesses Gaea, Idunn and Loki's foster mother Freyja.
Ewing notes that as a familial unit, Loki and Freyja are "tight-ish," but while it seems like a simple quid pro quo arrangement where the All-Mother and Loki each get something out of their deal, "both sides have their own intrigues and hidden motives, which will become clear in time."
There is swashbuckling fare and skullduggery afoot as the sword introduced in the recent All-New Marvel NOW Point One issue and the blade's uses play heavily into the first five-issue arc of Loki. After the introductory first issue, the series shifts to a TV-type episodic structure with one-off issues that will act as small pieces of an ongoing subplot and larger mission.
"What that mission is — and what the real mission is behind it — I won't spoil. There are shenanigans, put it that way," Ewing says.
There will also be lots of twists on the superspy angle, according to the writer. And because Loki is all about lying, cheating and stealing, he's more Danny Ocean than James Bond.
The writer's also hoping to fool the reader at least once per issue, "which is a familiar trope of heist movies — "the 'what really happened' moment," he says. "James Bond is very straightforward and you always know exactly what his goal is and how he's progressing toward it — he's not an unreliable sort of character. Loki very much is."
There's also a "heavy pinch" of action hero in Loki now, along with being more chaotic as well as a little flamboyant and showy, Ewing adds.
"He still does a lot of plotting and planning, but there's also the occasional bit of running up the sides of buildings, robbing casinos and sword-fighting on tightropes."
As for Loki's supporting cast, in addition to the All-Mother there will be some new characters plus appearances from Lorelei, younger sister of the old Thor villainess Enchantress, and Sigurd, the first hero of Asgard and the warrior from Der Ring Des Nibelungen fame. "He's still kicking around in the modern day, trying to live a relatively peaceful existence," Ewing says, "but there are forces that want to shake his quiet life up a tad."
Thor also plays an important role in the series — on the very first page, he's getting stabbed in the back by his bro Loki.
"He's off to Valhalla, he's an ex-Thor, a Thorpse, he's joined the Asgardian choir invisible, etc.," Ewing says. "But if that did happen to be a lie, the relationship between them would be extremely important as the series goes on. Heartbreakingly important, you might say."
A Loki comic "full of sturm and drang and Wagnerian tragedy would be just as good, but Ewing prefers his series to have a cool, fun tone since it's the way he likes to work.
"I always feel that the hard moments hit harder if you've had a little lightness and comedy to get you comfortable and lower your defenses a little first," the writer says. "Similarly, in any great comedy, a few tears and serious beats need to fall. It's all part of the big tapestry."
Ewing is psyched about showing how Loki naturally resists being pigeonholed and "giving him moments of tenderness, moments of slapstick, moments of courage, things that go against the grain of what the character 'should' be and yet feel perfectly in character," he says.
"And those moments can be a little inspiring, too — reminders that we are all much more than the world would have us be."