Over the years, Loki, the Asgardian God of Mischief, has done many things to earn his reputation as one of the Marvel Universe’s top villains. He’s murdered family members. He set into motion Ragnarok, the prophesied destruction of all Asgardians. Most recently, when Thor brought his fellow gods back from the oblivion of Ragnarok, Loki took advantage of the opportunity to trick the United States government into declaring war on his people. But is Loki ultimately to blame for all of his destructive acts, or is something else responsible? Writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and artist Sebastian Fiumara begin to answer those questions and more this October when their four issue “Loki” miniseries begins. CBR News spoke with Aguirre-Sacasa about the project, which reexamines the pivotal events of the title character’s life from a different perspective.
“Loki” came into existence when editors Ralph Macchio and Alejandro Arbona approached Aguirre-Sacasa about writing a “Loki: Year One” style project. The writer had experience penning horror stories as evidenced by his work on Marvel’s adaptation of Stephen King’s “The Stand” and superhero credits like the Marvel Knights series’ “4” and the recent “Marvel Divas” mini, but he had never tried his hand at a fantasy comic. Aguirre-Sacasa eagerly accepted the assignment – and challenge – and while he was doing research for the project, came upon what he feels is a new and different way to tell Loki’s story.
“As I read up on both Thor comics and Norse myth, it kind of became clear that is was one of those situations where the people who win write the history books. In other words, all those stories were being told from Thor’s point of view or the point of view of the Asgardian Gods and not from Loki, who is a much more complicated and contradictory figure,” Aguirre-Sacasa told CBR News. “So I thought what if you did look at these stories from Loki’s point of view and try to understand the psychology behind why he did everything that he did? And the template I used is, what if you told the Caine and Abel story from Caine’s point of view? Because it is sort of mythic in that way, and Loki is as much as a victim of history and fate as anyone.”
Most of the Asgardian Gods represent and are associated with abstract principles. While some of them are lucky enough to represent beneficial or neutral ideas, Loki had the misfortune to become the chaos and turmoil causing God of Mischief. “All of these gods are governed by some kind of fate or destiny. So what would happen if your pre-assigned destiny was to murder the most beloved of the gods and bring about the destruction of all Asgard? If you knew at an early age that’s what you were born to do and that’s why you were delivered into the hands of Odin, how would you act?” Aguirre-Sacasa remarked. “Would you fight your destiny? Would you embrace it? Would you try to change it? I thought that was a really interesting way to look at that character. I wanted to get into the psychology behind his actions.”
Whether or not Loki’s destiny dictated all his villainous choices is something that Aguirre-Sacasa plans to explore throughout the miniseries. “In the first issue, Thor has a sit down with Loki, and this wasn’t done intentionally, but someone pointed it out to me that the sequence felt like the opening scene with Batman and the Joker in ‘The Killing Joke.’ They basically have a heart to heart. That conversation sort of frames the series, because on the one hand you have Thor, who represents on some level free will. Then you have Loki, who believes in predestination. Those are sort of the conflicting ideologies,” Aguirre-Sacasa explained. “Thor was born to be the Thunder God and do this and that. So why is it less acceptable that Loki was born to be the God of Mischief and the person who would trigger Ragnarok? I don’t want to say this is philosophical, because it isn’t, but there are conflicting ideologies at play. The fundamental differences between Loki and Thor are pretty much front and center.”
Of course, Thor won’t be the only major supporting player in “Loki.” Aguirre-Sacasa also plans to explore his protagonist’s relationship with his father Odin along with his relationships with his wife Sigyn and his children, like Hela and Jordmungand. “Loki has got a lot of complicated issues with Odin. They run throughout the miniseries, and the betrayal of Odin cuts very deep,” the writer stated. “And as the series goes on, his wife and his various children are featured in quite a prominent way.”
With Loki’s family set to play such a large role, many readers may wonder if the scheming and treacherous god is capable of truly loving his wife and children. “Like all of the most complicated villains, Loki is capable of feeling love, empathy and mercy. He feels all those things,” Aguirre-Sacasa remarked. “Another question that’s in play in this miniseries is, are you remembered for just one thing? Or are you remembered for a lifetime? So it’s almost like all the ‘good’ works Loki does are immediately put in the shade by what he does with Balder and to the gods. We are trying to present a much more complicated and nuanced character who feels not just emotions like jealousy but things like love and community.”
Longtime fans remember that Loki’s major interactions with Balder occurred in 1978’s “Thor” #274-275. In those two issues, the God of Mischief orchestrated a plot that resulted in Balder’s murder. Odin later resurrected Balder, but Loki’s actions still shocked and horrified his fellow Asgardians. “Loki” #1 fills in the previously unseen period of Loki’s life immediately following the death of Balder. “Loki has fled Asgard in the wake of Balder’s death, and the series moves backwards and forwards in time. It’s very, very fluid. We’re sort of using the idea of mythic time,” Aguirre-Sacasa explained. “Thor says, ‘You look at certain things that are far enough in the past, and you don’t know what is real and what has become myth.’ So this series is trying to make these stories eternal, in a way, while still honoring Marvel continuity. So time is funny in this one, and quite intentionally so.”
The plot of “Loki” doesn’t just involve new perspectives on old stories, like Balder’s murder. It will also feature some previously unrevealed chapters in the God of Mischief’s life, the scope of which will be both intimate and grand, and the overall tone of the series is a tragic one. “There are definitely element of sibling rivalry and paternal affection. Every time Loki makes a move against the gods, it’s almost like he’s playing chess with their lives,” Aguirre-Sacasa revealed. “They are a big family – I would call this series a Shakespearean tragedy. That’s what I was aiming for. I really plugged into the play ‘Macbeth,’ which is extremely bloody and has a lot of similar themes about ambition, destiny, fate and free will. So I had those sorts of models in my head while working on this series and it’s been really fun.
“It’s also allowed me to do a lot of stuff that I haven’t done before,” Aguirre-Sacasa continued. “Like tell a very epic story with huge set pieces and some pageantry. A lot of my stories are not slice of life, but the more human side of superheroics. This is a big bloody epic of Shakespearean like pageantry. It’s been a blast working on this series.”
When Ralph Macchio offered Aguirre-Sacasa “Loki,” he mentioned that the writer would be working with the Argentinean artist behind the Marvel Illustrated line’s adaptation of “The Portrait of Dorian Gray,” Sebastian Fiumara. “I thought that was just stunning. His storytelling in that is great and, believe me, having worked on ‘The Stand,’ I know what it’s like to adapt a novel and not make it seem like a Cliff Note. I thought the adaptation felt pretty full and rich like the novel, and I think it wasn’t just because of the script but also because of Sebastian’s art,” Aguirre-Sacasa stated. “I sent Sebastian my script for the first issue, and then I got this e-mail from him and he was just gushing about how he had wanted to draw something like this for a long, long time. So it’s been great. The guy is a prince. He’s got these clean lines and this uncluttered style that I think will be really good for this book.”
In addition to his work on “Loki” and “The Stand,” Aguirre-Sacasa is a member of the writing staff of HBO’s “Big Love” and is working on a remake and revival of the musical “It’s a Bird…It’s a Plane…It’s Superman.” His time is obviously very much in demand, but he does have some other Marvel projects lined up and is interested in picking up more once his schedule opens.
“Usually, when I’m working on ‘Big Love,’ I only try to do ‘The Stand’ because that’s pretty much all I have time for, but when Ralph called me for this and said, ‘Hey we’ve got this project and we think you would be right for it,’ he knew exactly what to say to get me to want to write it,” Aguirre-Sacasa said. “I’m also working on a book that I’m really, really proud of, starring two of the founding members of the Avengers and a story starring a member of the Fantastic Four who suddenly is very busy. Both of those are fun one-shots. I am looking forward to getting back to the monthly superhero game sooner rather than later, though, because I’ve finished 20 issues of ‘The Stand’ and there are only 10 more to go. Plus, we start filming this season of ‘Big Love’ in a couple of weeks, so I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.”