"Journey Into Mystery" is revolving around "Fear Itself," and is no doubt affecting the event, but it still remains removed. This issue progresses the story further, with Loki working his way through whatever plan he has. The next step never seems clear, until he's taken it. Kieron Gillen has done a remarkable job segmenting each issue into a defined section of narrative within the larger tale. Each issue has a specific set piece or concept that you can list as being the handle for this installment.
The grand plan of Loki is going to read great in trade form. The plot twists and progressions will flow like a river without the structural issue breaks the monthly crowd endures. However, in short bursts, "Journey Into Mystery" has become a book that satisfies each month while also leaving a hunger for what comes next. Loki's plot is so intricately woven that as each piece of the puzzle falls into place you try to look ahead. The gaps of time between issues offer moments to think. Loki comes off as feeling ultimately prepared. It's as if he already knows the outcome and we're just waiting for the big and inevitable reveal. This is a specific and detailed example of why monthly comics are a separate medium capable of very cool things.
This issue brings us Surtur, a bombastic fiery creature who holds the page well visually at all times. I'm reminded of Ridley Scott's "Legend" a little, but a character on your page could do worse than channel Tim Curry at any stage. The interlude between Loki and Surtur is fun, though it's starting to feel too easy for Loki to come across yet another powerful character to manipulate others to his whims. Loki is smooth, no doubt, but there should possibly be some more challenge to what he is doing. Each introduced character is becoming more a gateway to a plot token than a real player in the game.
Doug Braithwaite's art continues to effortlessly shine. He gives everything, be it a smirk or a godless realm, an aloof style that lures you in while turning its cheek. It's gorgeous and yet still manages to tell story and action. The art removes you from the fact the book is so often simply discussion and dialogue. Gods sitting around and talking becomes something more when Braithwaite controls the flow of the page.
There's a fine line between mockery and smart writing. There's a fine line between Stan Lee's Asgard and Elizabethan theater - well, maybe not that fine a line. There's a fine line between a good comic now and a comic that will always be good. "Journey Into Mystery" is crafting a large tale in digestible chunks and if you like it now you'll no doubt love it again later in different ways for different reasons. Get a taste of how Asgard should be; buy this book.