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Ontology on the gone!

The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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08/03/2004 Archived Entry: "Marvel review: Loki #1"

Loki #1
Cover By: Esad Ribic
Writer: Rob Rodi
Published by Marvel

Review by Chad Denton

I admit it, I've always been a sucker for supervillain origin stories or tales told from the perspective of the villain. Even when I was a kid and just getting into the colorful universes of superheroes, the villains always seemed more interesting to me: after all, one could often relate to their motives more often. Who hasn't wanted to stick it to the smart and smug guy, like how Dr. Doom wants to humiliate and destroy Reed Richards? Who hasn't secretly wished that a Magneto would hurl men like David Duke or Fred Phelps into the middle of the Pacific Ocean and leave them to die?

Loki is a particularly interesting case. Maybe even more than Dr. Doom or Magneto, his mission is a highly personal one. All he really wants is to humiliate his overbearing stepbrother, Thor. If the best way to do it is actually take over their world, Asgard, then so be it. This story, which may or may not be canonical (I'm not really up on my recent Thor continuity, so I actually don't know), asks the question of what would happen if Loki actually did manage to throw his brother in chains and take the throne of Asgard. Would he find satisfaction or is the only satisfaction he can ever have is in the thrill of the fight? Does Loki even really want to defeat Thor?

It's not a story we haven't seen before, especially in Marvel Comics. A graphic novel from the '80s, The Avengers: Emperor Doom, hit upon the very same themes. But it's always a great idea, especially when applied to Loki, who hasn't received the same attention as other popular, well-established Marvel villains (mostly because, I suspect, humanizing characters who actually are gods and constantly speak in purple prose seems like a daunting task). Writer Robert Rodi so far has a mixed record from critics: the first issue of the "Rogue" solo series he's helming has received very mixed reviews, the "Identity Disk" mini-series has mostly been panned, and his run on "Elektra" wasn't popular but was well-received by critics. Here, I think, Rodi's work really shines. He gets a bit of a handicap from the always impenetrable, faux-medieval dialogue of the Asgardians, but he manages to make it work. What really catches the eye is his characterization of Loki, who was forced from the very beginning to take the role of outsider. It's also interesting to see, over the course of this issue, Loki's confidence as the new ruler of Asgard start to dwindle until he falls into bitterness over the situation he made for himself.

Topping this off is the artwork of Esad Ribic, who brings a painted, epic feeling to the storyline, yet gives his Asgardians very human expressions. The Thor in Loki's flashbacks appears smug and obnoxious, like a frat boy, and we see through his expressions alone that Loki is actually revolted and terrified of the idea of finally killing his nemesis. Ribic's Loki is a sad, twisted creature with uneven teeth and a worn face that does not exactly invoke a feeling of godliness. Similarly Ribic tones down the divine nature of Asgard. Instead of giving it a 'sci-fi' air like Jack Kirby originally did, the Asgard in this series has far more in common with the Europe of the Dark Ages, which, in my view, is a much more interesting interpretation.

As I said, my tastes might bias me, but this promises to be an interesting mini-series, even for those who don't read "Thor" or know the slightest thing about his corner of the Marvel Universe, with insights on a little-explored but important character in the Marvel mythos. Hopefully, too, it will establish Rodi's career as a reliably entertaining writer.

Replies: 2 comments

You know, Chad, this reveiw and this cover (see enlargement here, yow!) are enough to have this added to my pull at (One Woman's) Comic Odyssey.

I wonder if this is the same Rob (Bob) Rodi who used to write about Desert Peach, however long ago that was.

PS. According to Kenny at Comic Odyssey, Loki #1 is selling briskly, but he promised to take one away from one of those kids and put it in my envelop. Kenny is my hero!

Posted by Ginger Mayerson @ 08/03/2004 06:12 PM PST

Okay, I paid money for this and it is worth EVERY PENNY. It's part of my pull thingy until furhter notice. The art... is incredible. I don't really have any strong feelings about the writing, it did the job, but didn't knock me out or anything. But what wonderful art!

It's like Maxfield Parrish art directing for Irving Klaw at Bayreuth.

Woof! I say, Woof!

Posted by Ginger @ 08/17/2004 10:22 PM PST

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