By: Kieron Gillen (writer), Rich Elson (artist), IFS (colorist), and Clayton Cowles (letterer)

The Story: Loki and Leah arrive to aid a beleaguered Otherworld at war with….urban sprawl?

The Review: I’ll admit that while it certainly ended better than it started, I wasn’t particularly thrilled by the Exiled crossover.  It’s a good thing then that this issue of Journey into Mystery feels like a righting of the ship as Gillen gets back to doing what he does best.  I’ve often felt, with his character-centered stories and sense of humour and general Englishness that Kieron Gillen bore some resemblance to Paul Cornell.  As such, having Gillen do a Captain Britain story in a fantasy setting just makes sense.  It’s a natural fit.  Moreover, it lets Gillen get back to telling a straight up fantasy story, as opposed to the somewhat awkward urban fantasy with mutants that was exiled.

Where this book succeeds most is when Gillen allows the mundane and he magical to intersect, allowing elements of the fantastical world of Loki and Otherworld to crossover into our world.  You get hilarious scenes like Loki and Leah taking a cab across England and Hern the Hunter waiting to pick them up at the airport, sign and all.  It leads to a kind of absurdity that suits Gillen’s comic voice very well.

In many ways, after the crossover, it’s also great to feel the spotlight shift back to being squarely on Loki.  He still oozes charisma and I loved his “I love London” t-shirt.  Hopefully he wears it for the whole arc.

That said, not all the humour quite works this issue.  Gillen has a running gag throughout the issue where Loki asks every British or Otherworld character if they “know the Queen.”  It’s a strange joke that falls rather flat the first time, but Gillen continues on undaunted, repeating the joke again and again throughout the issue.

Meanwhile, I generally like the idea of the Manchester Gods, and while this may develop a bit further as the arc continues, it’s a bit disappointing to see that their motivations seem to be the usual usual, general conquest and world domination type stuff.

All that being said, Rich Elson’s art is a sight for sore eyes after Carmine di Giandomenico’s unimpressive work throughout Exiled..  His work looks at times like a quality animated film with IFS’ colors only furthers this by giving it a lush, painted feel.  It’s a much more polished look that really gives off a “fantasy” feel perfect for this comic, being both dream-like and, like the best JIM issues, often visually reminiscent of those old animated fantasy movies you watched as a kid.

Conclusion: The start of a story that feels much more like JIM in its element, both in script and art.  A good issue and I think it’ll only get better from here.

Grade: B

– Alex Evans