The Mighty Thor #3

The all-new, all-different Thor has been around for several issues now, and readers who wondered how soon she would face off against the same ol', same ol' Loki need wonder no more. In Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman's "Mighty Thor" #3, the story takes a brief detour to reintroduce Loki, who -- as it turns out -- isn't necessarily the same old master of deceit. It's all part of the overarching story, though, so Aaron gives this notable first meeting the time it deserves and delivers some surprises along the way.

Aaron cleverly pokes a little fun at the "All-New, All-Different" moniker that's permeated many of Marvel's titles through Loki's words to Thor and leads readers to believe that maybe -- just maybe -- Loki really is a changed god. Dauterman's reimagining of the trickster deity gives off a trendy hipster vibe, just different enough from past incarnations while utilizing classical traditional elements, like the character's staff and trademark horned headwear. Dauterman's barely-unshaven but suave Loki also reads like a deified con artist, defined with sharp detail and rich textures; the character's fur collar looks delightfully soft, but his razor stubble appears more appropriately akin to sandpaper. Readers can readily picture a slightly younger Tom Hiddleston as a template for Loki's likeness, just as easily as they can hear the actor's voice when reading Loki's skillfully scripted dialogue.

It's tough to pull off the notion that Loki's all-too-convincing words really do signal a change in the character's classic treacherous behavior, but Aaron does so pretty well, although he wisely chooses not to make this a major element of his story. Thor's reaction to Loki's lies see to that, in a comical and brilliantly satisfying moment that the old Jane Foster never thought would come -- but she seizes it beautifully, now that it has. Loki the Deceiver has gotten his backstabbing backside handed to him dozens of times, sure, but never in a scene as gratifying as this one.

Aaron takes a somewhat curious approach with Loki's return, but one that Dauterman executes beautifully; he not only brings this latest incarnation back, but also references many -- if not most -- of his other forms. Dauterman features pretty much every version of the character worth remembering and plays right into the eventual confirmation that this character is, indeed, the Prince of Lies. Dauterman renders them all faithfully, providing fond remembrances for past and perhaps missed interpretations of Thor's arch foe.

Colorist Matthew Wilson uses the detail of Dauterman's illustrations to full effect; for instance, he differentiates the inner and outer layers of Loki's apparel with various shades of green that are strongly and historically associated with the character and contrasts them with opposing background tones as well as the striking red of Thor's own cape. Dauterman and Wilson collectively make the entire issue a visual delight, and perhaps even more so when the introductions between New Thor and New Loki are done and Aaron's main story resumes with some foreboding developments. While much of the issue has the feeling of an interlude, Aaron reminds readers the story is not only unfolding, but escalating.

"Mighty Thor" #3 is indeed all-new and all-different, but the beautiful and intense storytelling is the same.

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