In “Loki: Agent of Asgard” #3 by Al Ewing and Lee Garbett, Old Loki rewrites Asgardian history, culminating in actions that will affect the Loki of the present day.
Ewing opens the issue with Old Loki spying on his younger-looking counterpart’s date from the last issue. “Loki: Agent of Asgard” #3 makes a dramatic shift in tone and approach away from the lighter fare of the preceding issues, which were driven by the younger Loki. Previously, “Loki: Agent of Asgard” had a tone closer to “Young Avengers” than to “Thor: God of Thunder.” The shift from speed dating to Old Gods and bloody deeds is abrupt, but at least the older Loki is there as a signpost on the first page.
Ewing’s plot also becomes far more referential, using the Marvel version of Norse mythology heavily. While this quickly broadens the cast, the shift in tone and cast to an older, more solemn crew also makes “Loki: Agent of Asgard” #3 less upbeat and less accessible than the first two issues. While Old Loki is conniving, he isn’t funny, and overall, he’s a less compelling protagonist for the reader. Old Loki is scarier and more formidable, but he’s also a far flatter character due to being straight out of the old parables and stories instead of the unpredictable morality and motivations of his younger, more sympathetic incarnation. Old Loki drives the plot quickly but he lacks personality, except for one fun moment where Ewing allows for an anachronistic-feeling but mischievous joke about a bazooka.
The setting of “Loki”: Agent of Asgard” #3 is Sword and Sorcery-style Asgard. The textboxes switch to third-person omniscient narration and a fable-like delivery to retell the origin of Gram, the legendary sword, as well as the family tragedy of Hreidmar and his three sons: Otr, Fafnir and Regin. “Loki: Agent of Asgard” #3 also introduces Sigurd, the first hero of Asgard, but his characterization is flat as well so far. He’s exactly kind of earnest, ambitious fighter that Loki especially likes to manipulate as a pawn.
“Your Life is a Story I’ve Already Written” is an apt title for this story, because it reinforces the old motif or theme of how Loki is a Trickster and is always One Step Ahead of everyone else, including the reader. The plot structure is a circle, following Loki’s path through the past before revolving back to the present day on the last page. However, while the action is easy to follow and the story is almost self-contained, the meta-structure is confusing. It’s not clear why Old Loki can manipulate the gaps in the canonical past this way, and that’s likely to throw off new readers.
Garbett’s artwork is unremarkable during most the issue, but his transitions and his action scenes are strong. His panel composition for the final conversation between Sigurd and Regin is particularly sharp on pacing. Woodard’s color work shines in the nighttime scenes with dark iridescent-seeming colors, especially for the lair of Andvari and the flight of the Loki-magpie.
While “Loki: Agent of Asgard” #3 covers a lot of ground and sets up an intersection between the Loki and his future self, the story loses some humor and lightness of handling when one Loki is in the spotlight instead of the other.