In his quest to forge his own identity and break away from the malevolent role destiny wants him to play, the title character of Marvel's "Loki: Agent of Asgard" ongoing series by writer Al Ewing and artist Lee Garbett has had to confront a series of impossible obstacles. From the rulers of Asgard, his evil future self, his morally inverted brother Thor Odinson, and his own past misdeeds, Loki has won several victories against his foes thanks to his supernatural cunning and the help of some valiant friends. Still, the master of mischief is still trying to find a way to free himself from the machinations of evil "King" Loki and atone for his past sins.
With "Secret Wars" on the horizon and the shape of the Marvel Universe changing in very fundamental ways -- possibly forever -- Loki's days may be numbered and perhaps he will not have changed enough to face the herculean tasks in his way and change for the better before it's too late.
In May's "Agent of Asgard" #14, Ewing and Garbett kick off an arc that falls under the "Last Days" umbrella of "Secret Wars" and chronicles how the cast of "Loki: Agent of Asgard" will spend the final apocalyptic hours of the Marvel Universe. CBR News spoke with Ewing about how his divine and human cast will greet the coming cataclysm, building a story that Garbett can run wild with, and whether or not the four-issue arc is his final statement on Loki.
CBR News: Al, in our past "Loki: Agent of Asgard" interviews you've intimated that the title character is going to endure some dark and tragic times. In issue #10 those times appear to have begun with Thor taking Loki back to Asgard to stand trial for the murder of the "Kid" incarnation of Loki. What hints and teases can you offer about issues #11-13? How do they set the stage for the story that kicks off in "Loki: Agent of Asgard" #14 and falls under Marvel's "Last Days" banner?
Al Ewing: Things get worse. This is Loki's time of trial, when all the chickens come home to roost and we see the evil master plan of King Loki, his horrible future self, come to fruition. Why has King Loki set all this up? Is there a way out for Loki, or is he doomed to become King Loki? When these two clash, there can be only one, and so far King Loki's controlled the board and every single move -- with one or two notable exceptions. Fans of the book, and of Loki, probably won't want to miss #11-#13. It's going to be pretty big -- and then we're coming out of that into something even bigger, which is the "Last Days" of the Marvel Universe.
We know that the "Last Days" stories are tales that unfold in the final days and hours leading up to the cataclysmic "Secret Wars," so set the stage for us. How much time is left for the Marvel Universe when "Loki: AoA" #14 begins? Where will Loki and your readers be spending their "Last Days?"
Well, it's not exactly set in stone yet -- I might have a better idea at the plot stage -- but I'm thinking all four issues will be happening during the final incursion, so in the last eight hours. Loki -- whether it's King Loki or the Loki we know -- is on the clock from page one of #14. So probably a bad time to take showers or listen to long stories. As for where we'll be -- we'll be dividing our time between Manhattan and Asgard, where the end of all that is is definitely resonating. Gods and mythical beings are sensitive to things like that.
With the end of the Marvel Universe coming, are your cast of characters preparing to go out with a bang? Quiet moments of reflection? Or both? Since we're talking about the potential end of a universe, what kind of scope can we expect from the story that begins in "Loki: AoA" #14? And will this be more a story of intrigue or an apocalyptic battle?
A bit of both, but mostly the latter. Any intrigue is happening behind the scenes -- ideas falling into place that we've been working on for more than a year. The apocalyptic war is what happens when the Ten Realms realize, with their God-sight and magic powers, that the universe is coming to an end. This isn't like previous incursions, which went by without comment -- this has a unique symbolic weight, because it really is the end, and creatures of story like the Gods can feel that primal ending resonating in their blood and bone.
So suddenly, everyone wants to settle scores. And at least one incarnation of Loki is only too happy to help. "Going out with a bang" is going to be the order of the day, but hopefully there'll be room for a few moments of poignancy.
As we've discussed, Loki isn't just the protagonist of your story -- he's also the chief antagonist. What sort of hints and teases can you offer up about the actions of both Loki in this story and his malevolent future self, King Loki? Will we get a face off between the two of them?
This is a very hard question to answer without spoiling the upcoming events of #11-#13. Because that's the face-off between Loki and King Loki we've been waiting for, so by definition, this must be something else. But King Loki is stillaround to make trouble in Asgard in #14 -- and he's on the cover -- so surely that must mean -- oh dear. I'd better shut up, I don't want to give anything away.
Fair enough. Let's move from gods to mortals then. You mentioned we'd be spending some time in Manhattan. How big a role does Earth play in your "Last Days" story? Will we get to see what happens to Loki's friend Verity Willis?
It plays a fairly reasonable role, all told. It has its place. And we will get to see what happens to Verity -- in fact, we'll probably be finding out more about Verity than we have up until now.
Are there any other supporting players in "The Last Days of Loki" that you can set up for us?
Take a close look at the Odin appearance in issue #9 -- there may be a clue there for eagle-eyed fans of certain supporting cast members. Meanwhile, I'm going to try and get as many of Asgard's great and good -- or not-so-good -- into the mix as I possibly can. If this is the story to end them all, everyone should get a look-in. Excuse me a moment, I need to look up what Beta Ray Bill is up to...
What's it like writing these "Last Days" issues for Lee Garbett? I know you guys have built up a pretty solid working relationship. Are you pretty much giving him a chance to run wild?
That is the plan! Or part of the plan. I'd like to have at least a couple of giant epic splashes -- I've just sent in some plot pages for #12 that have some nice epic shots in them, so that'll be a nice tasting menu for him for the super-epics that are coming.
Lee's great to work with, and we do mesh very well in terms of script and art -- I can rely on him to bring the big moments and the small moments, as readers will get to see in #11, which has plenty of both.
A story with the title "The Last Days" suggests finality. Is there any chance this is the end of your "Loki: Agent of Asgard" run? How does it feel to have it on the horizon?
I'm confirming/denying nothing on that score. You'll have to wait and see what happens.
I know you can't comment on the shape of the Marvel sandbox and what sorts of toys will be in it post-"Secret Wars" either, but fans of your Marvel work are bound to be wondering if you have more to write for the company. Anything you can share with us on that score? Do you have more Marvel projects lined up after "The Last Days?"
It's definitely in the realm of possibility that I might have. Beyond that, I'm afraid my lips must remain zipped!
I'll sign off with my traditional "thank you" to Loki fans who've been buying the book -- along with a reminder to believe half of what you see and none of what you hear in the next few months! Excelsior, true deceivers!
"Loki: Agent of Asgard" #14 arrives this May.