by Kieron Gillen (writer), Dougie Braithwaite (pencils), Ulises Arreola (colors), and Clayton Cowles (letters)
The Story: Loki goes on a quest to discover the secret behind his elder self’s demise.
The Review: This is quite possibly the best work of Kieron Gillen’s career, or at the very least, it’s among that work. Regardless, this should be star-making work and I will seriously lose faith in comic-reading humanity if that isn’t the case.
But I’m getting ahead of myself, so let’s get into the nitty gritty.
What truly makes this issue special is the excellent use Kieron Gillen makes of the new child Loki. By putting Loki on a magic-infused, fantasy genre quest, he gives off an epic feel that gives off a hint of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson novels and their ilk. The one special kid who goes on a heroic, epic quest. It’s an awesome formula, and Gillen’s putting it to use in the Marvel Universe is nothing short of magical and absolutely unlike anything Marvel’s doing right now but also a fantastic and fresh use of the fantasy Thor corner of that universe that makes the very most of the tools at hand. It also makes kid Loki more likable than ever.
And that’s crucial too; Gillen writes the hell out of kid Loki. It’s impossible not to absolutely adore him. Gillen keeps Loki indisputably a kid, but one who’s hyper intelligent with a mind that’s ever active. This makes for a character that’s easy to root for and wonderful to read, one with motivations and ambitions that are compelling. It also leads to some real laugh out loud moments, particularly when it comes to Loki’s eagerness to explore Midgard (including the internet forums!), completely opposite to his Asgardian brethren.
His battle for identity is flat-out excellent writing, displayed in a really cool confrontation that I won’t spoil. Similarly, Thor gives the young Loki an isolated, downtrodden feel, despised and bullied by the other Asgardians, another solid fundamental for the kid protagonist of an epic fantasy. Then there’s Loki’s relationship with Thor, one that’s tender and loving and allows for Thor to play the parental straight man.
Gillen’s writing also shines in the narration, which is admittedly on the heavier side. It highlights the high fantasy aspects of the story, but it’s the tone of these passages that really elevates the book. They are playful, intricate, and eloquent and honestly reminded me a bit of Neil Gaiman’s work.
Of course, all this aside, I’ve not even talked about the artwork yet. Arreola does wonders for Braithwaite’s already solid artwork, and together, they give the book a real, almost painted, story-book feel that is absolutely perfect for a story like this, one centered on, basically, a complex and magical kid. It’s also a look that is clearly “fantasy” and nothing but and Braithwaite puts a lot of effort into the settings and backgrounds as well; one only needs to look at Loki’s messy bedroom stuffed with books Most importantly though, Braithwaite does an outstanding job on Loki himself, who is adorable, charming, and very expressive.
There’s honestly a lot more I could write about this issue. The bottom-line though is that its tone is brilliant, its lead character is brilliant, Loki’s relationship with Thor is brilliantly portrayed, the art is brilliant, and on a technical level, the writing is brilliant.
Conclusion: Brilliant. The best first issue of the year thus far. This issue is naked proof that Kieron Gillen is a name you need to know.