Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Loki: Agent of Asgard 10, originally released January 21st, 2015.
Spencer: “I’m sorry” is an incredibly powerful and versatile statement, capable of mending anything from minor transgressions to grand betrayals if used properly, but it’s not a cure-all. The wronged party has no obligation to accept an apology, and there are some rare occasions when an apology alone just isn’t enough — and sometimes an apology can even be selfish, such as if the guilty party apologizes simply to ease their own conscience rather than to make it up to their victim. In his long, infamous career Loki has tried out every kind of apology possible, and Al Ewing and Lee Garbett’s Loki: Agent of Asgard 10 finds the God of Mischief at his most sincere, but also apologizing for what might truly be an unforgivable offense. Has Loki used up the last of his goodwill? Does he even deserve to be forgiven?
It will come as no surprise to anyone that Loki has much to apologize for, even if his crimes this time around were mostly committed in an AXIS-addled state. Still, between the combination of Loki’s best (and only) friend Verity’s lie detection abilities and his current inability to lie (supposedly brought about by being at Ground Zero of the inversion spell’s reversal), it’s obvious that his appeals are genuine. This same inability to lie, though, means that Loki is obliged to give an honest answer to a question his brother, the Odinson, asks in jest, leading to Loki explaining the entire sordid story of how he’s actually a copy of the original Loki who murdered Kid Loki and took over his body (as seen in Kieron Gillen’s Journey Into Mystery!). Odinson doesn’t take it well, and while he stops short of murdering his brother, he still drags him back to Asgardia to face judgment of his crimes, leaving Loki absolutely broken.
The circumstances behind Loki’s current truthfulness help to validate these apologies (and even though magic is involved, the last few issues of Loki: Agent of Asgard have established that these spells are only amplifying qualities that Loki already possesses), but that doesn’t mean much to his fellow Asgardians, who have not only lost a brother on this day, but who have spent an eternity listening to Loki’s insincere appeals for forgiveness. Why should this time be any different? There’s the irony: Loki’s finally telling the truth, but truth is not where Loki’s power lies, so, ultimately, it’s of no use to him.
Of course, as readers of a title featuring Loki as its protagonist, we have a unique perspective on the character that Odinson and the Asgardians (new band name!) don’t. We’ve seem him struggle to escape a legacy of evil, and those of us who also read Kieron Gillen’s Young Avengers have seen the way guilt has bogged down and changed this incarnation of Loki. An apology from that Loki would certainly have been of the selfish variety I mentioned in my introduction, but by now he’s accepted and moved past that intense, repressed guilt and gotten to a place where there’s some real regret behind his words. Moreover, there’s also the fact that this Loki is a copy of the original, pre-programmed to kill Kid Loki without much of a choice in the matter — how accountable can he really be held?
Of course, that excuse won’t fly with the Asgardians, to the point where Loki barely tries to explain it. And maybe it would be smart for all of us to reevaluate Loki’s motives. Loki: Agent of Asgard has been all about Loki attempting to erase the sins of his past to avoid becoming stuck in an endless legacy of evil, but could he have also — if only subconsciously — been looking to cover up his more disgraceful moments? Could he have ever admitted to “the crime that cannot be forgiven” if it had already been stricken from the record? Would he have ever admitted it at all if not under the effects of a spell? Is Loki’s desire to change actually an attempt to avoid dealing with the consequences of his actions?
No matter what the answers to these questions are, Odinson’s discovering what really happened to Kid Loki has been a long time coming. I don’t think any of us could deny that Loki doesn’t deserve to face some kind of punishment, but I also worry that a punishment might end up being worse for Loki and the rest of the world in the long run. After all, while he isn’t really mentioned in this issue, we know Evil Future Loki has a vested interest in putting an end to his younger self’s attempts at redemption, and what better way to do that by revealing his greatest sin and turning all his allies against him? Meanwhile, if our Loki does eventually become Evil Future Loki as a result, that would be disastrous for everyone.
Still, for all the questions this issue raises and all the issues of morality and motives it juggles, I think everything boils down to the one question I asked at the outset of this article, a question I imagine will drive the rest of this storyline: Does Loki deserve to be forgiven? Considering the complicated nature of Asgardians in general (and Loki in particular) as well as Loki’s often conflicting motivations we’ve discussed thus far, it’s sure to be a difficult question to answer, but Drew, I’m still eager to see you take a stab at it anyway. Also, what role do you think Verity is going to play Loki’s future? She was oddly pushed aside halfway through this issue, but I think her unique perspective and abilities could be quite useful if she could just find a way to get to Asgardia — assuming, of course, that she’d even want to defend Loki.
Drew: Actually, I might argue that Verity feels a bit redundant in a world where Loki can’t lie. Then again, her abilities may set her up as the only one who believes that Loki truly is sorry. Everyone else is so used to his lies (and simultaneously shocked about the truth) that he doesn’t have the trust of anyone in Asgardia. Even if Verity isn’t interested in forgiving Loki, she knows he’s telling the truth. Plus, she kind of needs him to help rescue Lorelei and Sigurd (which Ewing makes clear is a priority for her).
Whatever happens, I’m certain this creative team will make it work. I mean, this issue could very easily get bogged down with the events of Axis and Original Sin (or even just the larger mythology of Loki), and while it does touch on all of those, Ewing manages to make them all feel character-driven. That’s not to say Ewing doesn’t maybe resent (or perhaps regret) all of the twists and turns crossover events have put this series through. Take a look at how he opens the issue.
It’s a bold way to begin a story, with the hero speaking directly to the audience. We learn on the next page that Loki is actually talking to Verity, but his apology doubles quite beautifully as an apology for all of the comic-y nonsense that has hijacked the series. Ewing and Garbett were under a spell (or an editorial mandate); they didn’t mean it.
They use this trick again at the end of the issue, this time giving us Thor’s perspective as Loki begs forgiveness yet again. Spencer included that image, so I won’t double-up, but I would like to draw our attention to Loki’s words there. He’s apologizing, sure, but he’s also begging us to come back. They really are sorry about all of the crossovers, just give them another shot.
I definitely have a soft spot for this kind of meta-commentary, so I could never stay mad at this series for long, but what’s truly impressive is how well it works in the narrative. This issue serves as a huge turning point for the series, and while it doubles as a commentary about its place in our hearts, it actually works beautifully on its own merits. Few series can pull that double-meaning off so effectively, but since when has Loki been like any other series?
Which I guess is my way of saying: I totally forgive you, Loki: Agent of Asgard.
For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page. Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore. If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to Comixology and download issues there. There’s no need to pirate, right?