Or – “So, Apparently There Was More To The Story…”
…and, unlike the big finish, some of this was actually GOOD.
JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #631
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Penciler: Whilce Portacio
Inker(s): Allen Martinez & Jeff Huet
Colorist(s): Arif Prianto of IF & John Rauch
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Editor: Lauren Sankovitch
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $2.99
Previously, in Journey Into Mystery: Loki Laufeyson has been a busy little bee, mostly unseen by anyone. The Serpent’s bid to destroy Midgard (aka The Freakin’ EARTH) was all but won when, unbeknownst to nearly everyone, Loki caused a moment of weakness that allowed his brother Thor to strike the decisive blow and fulfill his destiny and prophecy and like that. He also released the malefic Surtur from the hoary netherworld, stole the Destroyer from Odin, and basically did any number of things that he really REALLY doesn’t want to come to light.
YOU SHOULD KNOW OF FUNERAL OF ODINSON, THOR…
I really enjoyed the narrative device of this issue, as the caption boxes are written as scrolls from ancient Asgardian history, telling the tales that no one can ever know (and revealing that Tanarus has already arrived in Asgard and stands in Thor’s place, leaving everyone to think of him as the true Thunder God.) Loki, returned to a youthful state (was that part of the Thor movie, or are they doing something wacky at Marvel?) betrays his own allies and damns them to hell, then stands before the new rulers of Asgard: Freya, Gaea and Idunn. (Didn’t they sing backup for Gladys Knight? No? Bygones…) I very much enjoy the tale crafted here, as Loki spins a web of lies, which Idunn and Freya immediately see through and call him on. Even while caught, he continues his half-truths and manipulations, and works toward his own ends. This is the first issue of JiM that I’ve read since it guest-starred Shang-Chi back in the 90’s, but everything I need to know is right in front of me, while keeping things I want to know in reserve, dragging me into the story being told. He even manages to free Hela from her imprisonment, and gain the services/friendship of her angry young handmaiden, who seems very clearly to have a crush on Loki (especially given how hard she tries to prove she doesn’t.)
…HE WALKED NINE STEPS AND WALKED NO MORE.
The new All-Mother with three faces is more than capable of handling Asgard, and this issue goes a long way towards explaining the new status quo of the Golden City, as the Queen, Mother and Maiden agree that Loki can continue his usual antics, but in their interests rather than just as a free agent. ‘Course, they can’t openly admit that he’s their agent, and if he ever tries anything stupid, well… They know what he did. Whilce Portacio’s name always reminds me of the sprawling and vaguely incomprehensible mess that was “Wetworks” back in the 1990’s, but I enjoy every panel of this issue. Portacio’s peculiarities have coalesced into an almost classical style, a soft-penciled series of forms given life by some amazing coloring. In short, this is a very enjoyable book that sheds a lot more light on Fear Itself, and even puts Loki in the role of hero (sort of) for a change, while setting up for the new age of the Norse Pantheon…
THE VERDICT: AFTER 5, THEY’RE ALWAYS OUT OF PIE.
Worst of all? I may have to come back next month to see how this starts to shake out, as Gillen’s writing is impressive on a number of levels, not the least of which being an adult viewpoint where nobody is entirely right or wrong, and even the Queen of the gods is willing to bend a few rules to have an agent at her disposal. I had long since given up on Thor’s tales (the last issue of this title I read included the Earth Force, if I recall correctly) but if this is how Asgard works these days, I want to read about it. Journey Into Mystery #631 is a “jumping-on point” that works, earning a very impressive 4.5 out of 5 stars overall. The only real weakness that the story has lies in its strengths, as the clearing up of old threads short-changed this issue in terms of actual plot…
Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day: What, if anything, would it mean to the Marvel U if Thor is really dead?