"Journey into Mystery" has acted as one of the better examples of an event tie-in book that manages to enhance the event and maintain enough of its own identity that it functions on its own. Loki's schemes work to thwart the Serpent and his plans to take Asgard from Odin, but do so behind the scenes, in places unseen in "Fear Itself." Places like Hel, where Loki works to make sure Hela does not align herself with the Serpent and that Mephisto does not invade Hel to reclaim it as his own territory. So far, Loki is looking like the true hero of "Fear Itself."
Reading "Journey into Mystery" #625 is like watching a pinball bounce around the way that Loki jumps from crisis to crisis. He's constantly in motion, constantly scheming and making deals that will advance his cause. Kieron Gillen writes this new, young Loki as an interesting mix of childish enthusiasm, heroic altruism, and a darker edge that may be nothing more than a bluff. Then again, maybe it's not. Loki is smart enough to trade on the reputation of his previous self, especially if people are going to assume that he's the exact same person. All that's missing is that hasty misstep that is surely coming. Everything has run too smoothly for Loki to date, in this issue especially.
Gillen doesn't simply show some unseen machinations that influence the events of "Fear Itself," he also provides some background on the Serpent. The story here, of the young god not much more than a boy, demonstrates how dangerous and horrible the Serpent is. A victim of Trolls, he takes his revenge in a cruel and disturbing fashion. If the Serpent didn't seem a major threat, a villain that could do anything to further his goals, he does now, thanks to Gillen.
The art team of Doug Braithwaite and Ulises Arreola continues to impress. Their work complements one another, something you don't often see in art teams where the colorist is working directly from the pencils. Usually, the coloring is overbearing and feels the need to digitally 'ink' the pencil work. Arreola, instead, uses a softer touch, one that looks like a mix between paint and pencil crayons to achieve an effect much more in tune with the pencil line work. Braithwaite's strong, solid compositions and figures are not only left intact, they are given extra depth and focus.
If you're only reading one tie-in to "Fear Itself," you couldn't do much better than "Journey into Mystery." And, if you just want to read "Journey into Mystery" without "Fear Itself," you could do that with few problems. This is that rare tie-in comic that enhances the event and stands on its own. What will happen to it after "Fear Itself" ends is unknown, but, if the issues so far are any indication, it should be able to continue without any problems.