No, this isn’t “Phonogram: Loki,” though I would totally buy that comic. But it does feature the “Phonogram” creative team, and with Nathan Fairbairn’s colors on Jamie McKelvie’s pencils-and-inks, it’s one of the best-looking Marvel comics of the week. It’s not just nice-looking, though, it’s right-looking. This is what Loki and his world should look like, even if we’ve never quite seen it this way before. And when Loki’s hanging out in Hell with Mephisto, sitting on a stone chair, watching some gladiatorial hijinx, it’s the kind of casual menace that makes Loki such a frightening character.
He is, after all, the God of Mischief. Or, as this issue proposes, the God of Even More than That.
Kieron Gillen’s been building his career at Marvel comics pretty steadily over the past year, and his work on the Thor family of titles has been some of his best stuff at the company. But his style fits Loki like a fingerless glove, and from the opening scene of Loki annoying Dr. Doom and then pondering the fate of Asgard to the closing “wait ’till they get a load of me” pages, this is an issue that drips with trickery and duplicity, in all the right ways.
And that early scene of Loki looking out at Asgard as he declares, “it needs to be burned clean. All of it”? McKelvie draws the heck out of that splash page. Asgard doesn’t look like a gleaming city in the sky, but an ornate sandcastle. And the Asgardians look like ants, crawling around below, unwitting victims of what Loki has planned. Plus, there’s a McKelvie Pegasus flying in the air — a reminder of the magical splendor of the city, even if Loki doesn’t seem to recognize it.
This one-shot also features a middle-of-the-issue fight scene between Loki and the Disir — the kind of dark zombie Valkyrie creatures of legend. McKelvie draws the fight scene as a single page, with a silhouette of Loki’s face in the center, surrounded by no less than 24 panels of action. McKelvie’s clean style keeps it from looking cluttered, and it’s one of the most original fight scenes you’re likely to see in a comic this week. Or this month. Or this year.
And with Loki playing with the Disir and with Hela and with Mephisto and whispering sweet craziness into Norman Osborn’s ear, this is an issue where Gillen can show off as well. His Loki is sinister and fun.
Loki is a central player in this “Siege” event, even if he hasn’t much appeared in the foreground. And this issue shows his craftiness and his behind-the-scenes maneuvering. But it does so with elegance and wit, not in a connect-the-dots-of-the-master-plot kind of way. And it’s Gillen and McKelvie working together, which is always a good thing.