"The Tenth Realm" Spins Ewing's "Loki" Toward "AXIS"

The path to change and redemption in the Marvel Universe is a long and winding one. If you're a god, that road can twist and double back through space and time, often blocked by other deities who don't want you to change. Loki, the young Asgardian God of Mischief, is all too aware of this. To break the mythic cycle that leads to him becoming the older, malevolent god he's been in the past he's been working as spy for the All-Mother, the triumvirate of goddesses who rule Asgard.

RELATED: Ewing Leads Thor, Loki and Angela into Marvel's "Tenth Realm"

Writer Al Ewing and artist Lee Garbett have been documenting Loki's espionage missions in the ongoing "Loki: Agent of Asgard" series, and in issue #5 the titular trickster's quest to forge his own identity hit a major roadblock in the form of his insane and twisted older self from the future. The elder Loki offers the All-Mother a period of unparalleled peace for Asgard with one small catch: the young Loki must become him. How Loki deals with this revelation and how it informs his actions will be explored in the upcoming "Original Sin" tie-in miniseries "Thor and Loki: The Tenth Realm," written by Ewing and Jason Aaron and drawn by Garbett and Simone Bianchi. The titular duo discover they have a long lost sister in the form of Guardians of the Galaxy member Angela.

CBR News spoke with Ewing about "The Tenth Realm," what Angela's presence means for Thor and Loki, his future plans for "Loki: Agent of Asgard" -- including a "March to AXIS" tie-in -- and whether any version of Loki can ever be fully trusted.

CBR News: Al, "Loki: Agent of Asgard" #5 ends with the title character essentially discovering that Asgard will be prosperous and free of the apocalyptic destruction of Ragnarok as long as he becomes the person he's trying very hard not to become, correct? How does Loki feel on the final page of the issue where his future self is mocking him in the mirror? Is the look he's giving the mirror one of defeat, or defiance that says, "You won't break me"?

Al Ewing: Definitely more the latter than the former. Loki isn't about to roll over for his own future -- he's going to fight this as long as he can. Will that do any good? Is it what Old Loki wants? There's a lot of readers out there who seem convinced that Loki doesn't have a hope, and maybe they're right. After all, he's still got the deep, dark secret of what happened to Kid Loki waiting to come out -- and with that on his record, maybe he doesn't deserve to come out of this after all. We'll have to wait and see.

Does Loki have anyone he trusts enough to confide in about the All-Mother's plans with his future self and how he feels about them?

I don't think he does. Or rather, he might not trust anyone to continue feeling the same way about him as they do now after they find out. He hasn't told Thor or Verity or Lorelei or any of his other friends and supporting cast -- right now, he's bearing this particular burden alone, which isn't to say that the cast won't find out about it sooner or later.

How would you describe his relationship with Thor going into "The Tenth Realm?"

His relationship with Thor -- they're brothers. They're friends. Loki doesn't hate Thor any more, and hasn't for some time. But there's definitely some simmering resentment building up in him towards Asgard -- and Thor is very much part and parcel of Asgard. Expect some fireworks in that direction over the course of the mini.

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Speaking of Thor, the current "Last Days of Midgard" arc in his ongoing "Thor: God of Thunder" series is just wrapping up and looks like it will have a big effect on Asgard and the surrounding town of Broxton, Oklahoma. How much story time passes between "Thor: God of Thunder" #24, "Loki: Agent of Asgard" #5," and "Thor and Loki: The Tenth Realm" #1? How new reader friendly is this story?

Basically, "Loki" #5 comes before the finale of "Last Days of Midgard," and then we're into the "Tenth Realm." So it's fairly straightforward.

New reader friendliness is job one -- I've tried to make sure that a new reader will be able to work out exactly what's going on if they've never picked up "Thor" or "Loki" before. Or "Original Sin," for that matter. Or "Guardians of the Galaxy." The ideal situation is if "Tenth Realm" #1 is someone's very first Marvel comic and they can still figure it all out exactly. (Those folks might need the recap to help, though. I'm not above leaning slightly on the recap.)

We know that the plot of "The Tenth Realm" involves the revelation that "Guardians of the Galaxy's" Angela is Odin's illegitimate daughter and hails from a secret Tenth realm of Asgard, but how does the story get rolling? What else do you want readers to know about the plot of the story?

Actually, Angela's more legitimate than Thor. (Although 'illegitimate' isn't that cool a word for a child born out of wedlock like what half the babies I know are. Those babies are too legit to quit in my opinion.)

Anyway, the story gets rolling when Thor gets a vision in the face from the Watcher's eye-beam-blasting eye! As detailed in "Original Sin" #2 and #3, fact fans! Thor finds himself in the role of faithful believer, following his vision to its end, with Loki at his side -- and uncovering secrets buried since the dawn of history! I'm pretty sure.

We know that in addition to Angela, Thor and Loki, Odin will also be a part of the "Tenth Realm." Are there any other supporting players you can reveal? Will we see some other major Asgardian figures that you haven't had a chance to write like say the Warriors Three? And if so, what's it like writing those characters?

I'd forgotten Odin was out there! I was keeping quiet about him. There are a few other guest stars -- not necessarily Asgardians, though. For instance, writing Star-Lord and Rocket Raccoon was a lot of fun. And we've got a new villain that I think will end up as something pretty massive in the Thor-verse.

But writing Thor is about five times as fun as I thought it would be -- he's only had a guest role in "Loki," but in this he's got equal billing, so there's space for him to breathe. And I find myself getting into this really epic mode whenever I'm writing him -- everything he does or says is this great saga. I'm trying to get the Shakespeare of it -- not in terms of the thees and thous and oldie-worldie talk, but in the sense of the theatricality, the high drama of just being who he is. Thor crackles with dramatic power -- even his smallest, subtlest moments carry to the back row.

And if Thor is Shakespeare, Odin is King Lear in the storm. He's the epic dialed up to full blast -- this great force of will and nature and stubbornness, this great cosmic sea crammed into human form and bursting at the seams. I've barely written him at all yet, but there's a definite charge to it, and it's going to build up to a moment readers won't forget in a hurry.

Last time we talked briefly about working with your "Tenth Realm" collaborators, writer Jason Aaaron and artists Simone Bianchi and Lee Garbett. What can we expect from Simone and Lee's pencils on "The Tenth Realm?" Are there any scenes that you've seen and can tease that you're especially excited about?

Lee is his usual brilliant self -- he's handling anything outside the Tenth Realm, so just this week I saw some amazing space scenes. There's a space battle involving the Guardians that looks fabulous -- there's one panel of pitched laser combat in particular that I almost hated to add dialogue to, it was so pretty.

As for Simone -- every page of his is fantastic. He's doing the Tenth Realm scenes, and the Tenth Realm is gorgeous -- I can't even describe some of these buildings, they're so pretty. And this new villain I mentioned earlier -- she's got a real presence which Simone brings across perfectly. She's almost stepping out of the page.

"Thor and Loki: The 10th Realm" concludes in early September, and that same month "Loki: Agent of Asgard" returns with issue #6, which is a "March to AXIS" tie-in that brings Loki face to face with not only Doctor Doom but Valeria Richards. How would you describe the dynamic between these three characters? What's it like playing them off of each other?

Doom and Valeria's dynamic I try to get from "Fantastic Four" as much as possible, so readers are advised to check that series out. I'd say Valeria is the one human being on Earth Doom cares about, and she's the only person on Earth who truly cares about Doom. It's very sweet, really.

As for Doom and Loki -- well Loki's put one over on Doom in the past, and sees no reason why he can't do it every time without fail. Except he's not the Loki he was, and things have changed. Meanwhile, Doom is -- extremely dangerous. He sees himself as the Overman -- he's overcome human failings to become something greater than human. I'd say it's quite Nietzschian, but Doom thinks he's a better philosopher than Nietzsche, and he's had several books of philosophy published to prove it. Anyway, Doom's spent a great deal of energy on the quest to achieve godhood -- so from his perspective, this is pretty much an evenly-matched fight. And he may be right.

According to the solicits artist Jorge Coelho is drawing "Loki: AoA" #6. What do you feel he brings to the book as an artist?

Anyone who's read his issue of Ales Kot's "Zero" -- and if you're not reading that, you should -- knows the answer to that one. His pages are absolutely gorgeous -- even his layouts are incredibly sumptuous; a feast for the eyes. I can't wait to see this one fully colored and in print, and Loki fans will not be disappointed.

RELATED: Ewing Unmasks "Mighty Avengers'" Ronin, Uncovers His "Original Sin"

Finally, you have a "March to AXIS" issue coming up, and Loki has appeared with the other Cabal members in the "AXIS" promotional images, leading us to believe he'll have significant involvement in the crossover. What's it like being part of "AXIS?" Can you comment on how big a role Loki has in the event?"

He does have a large involvement! He's got a huge role in how it all plays out, which in turn has a huge role in how our story plays out. It's like a symbiotic relationship -- two stories drawing extra energy from each other.

It's been nice to be so far in the loop on this stuff -- it makes it much easier to fit myself relatively seamlessly into the clockwork while still making sure my readers get everything they want from the arrangement. I think Loki-lovers will enjoy how it all plays out.

I would like to sign off by giving a big thank you to our readers and supporters, and to everyone who feels passionate about Loki. I've seen some absolutely fantastic cosplay and art recently, and while I can't read the fanfic, it does my heart a power of good to know that it's out there. Knowing we've got such a wonderful community of fans and well-wishers gives me the energy to write the best Loki book I possibly can. So thanks again for that!

"Thor and Loki: The Tenth Realm" #1 is on sale July 9 from Marvel Comics.

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