by Kieron Gillen, Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning (writers), Carmine di Giandomenico (art), Andy Troy (colors), and Clayton Cowles (letters)

The Story: So what did Sigurd’s spell do?  Not that much…it just turned all the Asgardian gods into humans.

The Review: What an utterly bizarre issue. Of course, that’s rather the point.  Through Sigurd’s spell, Gillen and DnA effectively turn the world topsy turvy and the surreal, dream-like atmosphere that results is certainly part of this issue’s appeal.  Also, there is a certain joy the writers take in finding appropriate human roles for the depowered gods (who seemingly have forgotten their godliness).  Loki is an avid pen-and-paper role player, always a player in the game of his devising.  Volstagg is a baker who eats all of his own products (except the healthy stuff).  Sif teaches an MMA class.  For the most part, it all makes sense, and seeing what role each god occupies is rather amusing.

A big problem, however, is the dialogue.  Gillen and DnA elect to have the gods speak colloquial English (though their dialogue still has that Asgardian lettering) to reflect their human status.  This is great in theory, but not so good in practice, as it means that the Asgardians no longer sound like themselves at all.  For instance, Thor’s talking like an average joe takes something away from the essence of the character.  I see where the writers were coming from, but in execution, it falls flat, as the characters, in losing their distinctive voices, essentially become entirely different people.

Worse still, while JIM rarely falls flat when it comes to humour, Loki’s narration just didn’t work for me here.  Gillen has the issue narrated as though it were a game of D&D in which Loki is the player character.  It feels strained and forced and ultimately distracts, showing far too much artifice on Gillen’s part.

Sadly, the artwork didn’t work for me either.  Di Giandomenico’s work is often guilty of cutting corners, skimping on detail when he can get away with it.  That said, he’s not the prime offender.  Andy Troy’s colors are the real problem here.  Troy goes for a very strange, extremely blotchy style with a ruddy palette.  The result is art that ends up looking messy and muddy.  The blotchiness alone is so prevalent that it almost single-handedly ruins whatever merit the artwork has.

That said, for all I’ve railed against this comic, things really do get better towards the end.  Once Loki regains memory of his godliness and can, hurray, talk like himself again, it’s as though the whole comic breathes a gigantic sigh of relief.  The laughs start flowing again, Loki shows great chemistry with the “Mutants New,” and the comic feels like its old self.  Not only does the comic get quite good, and certainly more amusing, after this point, but it’s a good sign for future issues in that much of this issue’s weirdness was a one-time only affair.

Also in these closing portions of the comic, we get to see a little more of Sigurd, in his non-armoured form.  He’s a fairly fun character, even if a bit archetypical.  The guy’s a total dick, unwilling to admit to his obvious foul-up, and is unjustifiably confident.  Better still, he apparently has ties to the old, evil, adult Loki, a tease which I hope will be built upon in future issues.  Also, on the last page, for all I’ve derided the artwork, Di Giandomenico’s take on the now human Disir is excellent.

Conclusion: Gillen and DnA took some daring creative risks for this issue, but they did not pay off at all.  You can’t win them all.

Grade: C

-Alex Evans