Nov 17, 2015

[Comics] Journey Into Mystery: Fear Itself

As weird as the Fear Itself crossover event was, what I appreciated most about it was the fact that it was a large event built around the whole Norse pantheon. And while the story itself was a little lackluster, one of the best things to come out of Fear Itself was the revival of Journey Into Mystery as a title but with Loki as the protagonist instead of Thor. They even kept the old numbering of the original series to boot.

Journey Into Mystery: Fear Itself covers issues #622-626 as tie-in comics. And our Loki protagonist isn't just any Loki, but it's the young Loki who manifested after the events of another crossover, Siege.

This is not the first time that Loki had changed. There was his transition from a man to a woman after Asgard had fallen after Ragnarok and thus him appearing in different bodies and forms is pretty much normal. I swear the way that Marvel has been handling Asgard has the whole lot of them seeming to be a lot more like Doctor Who or something given how they repeatedly come back from the dead.

Synopsis: Journey Into Mystery: Fear Itself is the compilation of issues 622-626 of Journey Into Mystery along with a few of the Spotlight comics. For Journey, the series was written by Kieron Gillen.

As the Serpent has risen and the end of everything seems certain, we follow the journey of several ravens across Asgard as part of the old tales of what happens to the likes of Loki after death. We eventually find that at least one of the ravens survives the perilous journey and this raven finds his way to the new Loki, who is no more than a young boy at this point. As much as everyone generally distrusts this new incarnation of Loki, especially given his role in the fall of Asgard in the past, this young Loki is primarily being protected by his brother Thor.

Here we follow Loki as he follows the raven and is led to a final message from his former self. This spectral vision clearly states he is not to be trusted and this new Loki is still free what path to take in life. But with the events of Fear Itself unfolding, Loki comes to believe that he knows that need to be done in order to save everyone. Thus we follow Loki doing what he does best - using his wit and words to strikes deals across the realms in order to achieve his goal of saving Asgard. And this is the story that really draws you in as we see just what exactly Loki is up to this time.

The decision to essentially reboot Loki was quite the brilliant one. It was a timely opportunity continue to development of this character without too much of the burden of his former self. Sure, he potentially still has access to all that he was given the whole bit with the ravens. But at the same time he's still a new person and is free to make different choices than his predecessors. And for now it seems that Loki is determined to be more on the side of good, although his methods have an innate tendency to lean towards chaos and mischief.

Beyond the revitalization of this character, the whole story and tone of things worked on so many levels. The writing that went into this was almost lyrical at times, given the whole thing more of a feel that is similar to the old great epics poems that we associate with mythology and Norse traditions. Sure this is still a Loki who is just beginning to explore human wonders like the internet, but at the same time he's still an Asgardian and he has to play by those sorts of rules as we expect within a fantasy setting.

And I loved every bit of it.

This is a Loki that has the limitations of youth and yet also uses his youth to his advance. He may be young in body, but for the most part here's just as crafty and clever as always. He's a joy to watch give  his story has trying to cajole and subvert some rather might Asgardians to his will and even striking a deal with Mephisto himself. As much as he appears to be a young boy, he is still of Asgard and is a force to be reckoned with - or at least that the message one takes away from this story.

Journey Into Mystery: Fear Itself is some of the most involved and creative writing I've seen in a comic book in a while. Don't bother with the main arc - just focus on this tie-in series instead. Thus the book gets 5 clever bits of political maneuvering that Loki is able to pull off out of a possible 5.

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