Oct 15, 2015

Loki: Agent of Asgard is Marvel's Answer to Sandman You Didn't Know You Wanted

Neil Gaiman's Sandman is one of the evergreen stories in the history of comic books.Debuting in the late 80s and lasting 75 issues and over six years, Sandman featured the Lord of Dreams (or, really, the embodiment of Dream) as a brooding monarch who struggled with growth and change. Dream was tall and lanky and was also a shapeshifter, and he had the ability to peek into and control your innermost thoughts.

Two decades after Sandman ended, Al Ewing and Lee Garbett did Loki: Agent of Asgard, featuring the adventures of a reborn Loki who was trying to grow past the role of the god of lies.

Constantly faced with his past and his future (literally—his future self who goes back to being the god of evil is the main villain of the series), Loki is always trying to change. Capitalizing, I'm sure, on the popularity of Tom Hiddleston, god of Tumblr, Marvel had to find a way to turn Loki into a sustainable protagonist. That was already underway with the Kid Loki stuff, followed by a stint in Young Avengers (which is excellent), but in Agent of Asgard, Loki finalizes his change away from being the god of evil by accepting that he is the god of lies, and a lie is just a story told.

So by extension, this makes him the god of stories.

Loki makes a friend named Verity Willis, who can detect any lie. This means that she has a hard time with fictional stuff, because by definition, it's all a lie.

Side note: Verity is one of the best things about long-term continuity. She's related to a very minor character in Walt Simonson's legendary run on Thor. It's not important at all to the story, but it adds an extra layer of significance. And it's cool.

Eventually, after getting to know Loki, Verity manages to start reading fiction, knowing that while, yes, they are lies, they're also full of truth, which reflects a recurring theme in Sandman.

Loki even talks about how stories are cyclical, and how stories can come alive because people believe in them, or maybe just because they're that important.

Look, I'm not saying that Loki: Agent of Asgard is an extension of Sandman or anything, or even that they're similarly written. Sandman was clearly more serious, stood mostly on its own, referenced literature heavily, and was aimed at a specific crowd. Agent of Asgard has levity, tied into current events in the Marvel Universe pretty heavily (to its detriment, I think, unfortunately), referenced pop culture, and was aimed at a different crowd. But it dealt with similar themes — that of story and change — and had two characters that were both compelling and had similar capabilities, if completely different personalities. It's spiritually similar, and it makes Loki a more intriguing character, rife for more story and possibility.

Point is, not a lot of people read Loki: Agent of Asgard, I think, and it's a shame. It was well written, fun, and well drawn. It has a true element of mythology to it — fairy tale logic, mythical weapons that reveal truth, and whatnot — and it was really just quite charming. Fortunately, since this is the true Golden Age of comics, it's all available in three trade paperback collections, and if you're a fan of Loki, whether it's from Kid Loki or from Tom Hiddleston or whatever else, or, hell, if you were a Sandman fan, I really recommend it.

Or, if you didn't want to read all that, here's one of the first few pages of this series. Enjoy.

You can get Agent of Asgard on Amazon:

1 comment:

Alin Răuțoiu said...

This is all well and good, but this approach started in Gillen's Journey into Mystery. And Pak and van Lente's Incredible Hercules also veered into this direction.

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