"Journey Into Mystery" is a pretty fine comic even though it's fighting an uphill battle against two comic tropes that usually signify the opposite: this book is about the villain and it's tying into the latest line-wide event. Kieron Gillen throws in the obligatory pages that bridge this to the second issue of "Fear Itself." He then he goes about filling his corner of this event with a glorious tale that feels like it has both heart and a level of spectacle befitting gods and their wrath.
Two elements of importance to this issue are seeded early and pay off quickly and organically. Gillen doesn't waste any pages or panels and so you learn early to always be looking for what is around because it was clearly chosen with a purpose in mind. Nothing feels dashed together. This is a comic made with brains; The structure and language both support this theory. The whimsical quality of the captions float you through the tale like a bard is singing it to you. Yet it never feels forced or pretentious. It's a fine and gorgeous line Gillen treads and it, alone, is worth the price of admission.
Your attention should also always be sharpened because not only are we dealing with the cerebral style of narrative from Gillen, and the dense and amazing art of Doug Braithwaite, but this is also a book about Loki. That means, from the very outset, we have to be prepared for the twist. Vigilance is important and surely the plan is already in action. We just cannot see it yet.
This book feels like it is going to be about the true redemption of Loki. He's going to step up to play a hero's role; The dramatic tragedy will be that it already seems he won't be celebrated for his actions. Loki is going to do what needs to be done and sometimes that act isn't pretty or noble. Sometimes war is sneaky and devious, and though Loki's intentions might be true he is going to look like his usual self. It's a shame but watching it unfold is dazzling in its hypnotic nature.
Doug Braithwaite is a perfect choice to illustrate this title. His intricate and aloof images match the majesty of a kingdom removed from the streets of the Marvel Universe. The backgrounds are dense and alive, and the fantastical elements look greater than your imagination might have conjured. When matched with Ulises Arreola's colours, this book looks like we are seeing another realm through a looking glass. The characters inhabit this world with meaning and the world itself has limitless scope.
This issue might only be another step in Loki's tale through "Fear Itself," but it is a good set of plot tokens he collects here. The writing and the art deliver on all counts to make an epic book of poetic quality. The foundation is being built for a defining tale for Loki. You have every reason to stay tuned.