Four iterations of Loki take center stage with aplomb in Thor #12 and set the stage for the God of Mischief’s solo book in July.
As the War of the Realms spills into Thor #12, Jason Aaron and Mike Del Mundo elegantly justify the announcement that Loki will have a solo title staring in July. Rather, the creative team pounds you over the head throughout this issue with the obvious fact that Loki is one of the Marvel Universe’s most confoundingly complex characters and deserves a solo series to document his forthcoming (mis)adventures. If you’re not a fan of crossover events but enjoyed Loki's solo exploits in Kieron Gillen’s Journey Into Mystery (2011) or Al Ewing’s Loki: Agent of Asgard (2014), Thor #12 is for you.
Per the events of War of the Realms #1, Thor is still stuck in Jotunheim, and although we’re used to Loki finding himself in a predicament (usually of his own making), his current status is quite troublesome. What better time to send him on a soul-searching quest through his past, present and future lives? And so, as Loki narrates the story of how he learned magic from an Asgardian prisoner, he encounters different incarnations of himself. The God of Mischief has indeed led a colorful life as a youthful Viking Loki, Kid Loki, and Necrogod Loki walk him through his efforts at starting a war, trying to reconcile with Laufey, and seeking a final conflict with Thor. It’s a little like A Christmas Carol with Loki as his own cadre of ghosts.
Aaron’s pensive script is a slow burn that unfolds before the reluctant trickster as a series of introspections into his true nature. Ever the provocateur, Loki is forced to re-examine the lies he lives by and confront the uncomfortable truth that his pranks, schemes, and selfish dealings have potentially dire—even if unforeseen—consequences.
Del Mundo’s clever art shines throughout the book as he switches styles to suit the different planes Loki visits. His style is a solid complement to that of Russell Dauterman in War of the Realms #1, providing readers a seamless, yet thoughtful, transition. From the Young Avengers/Journey Into Mystery inspired look of Kid Loki’s storyline to a surreal, 1960s Haight-Ashbury-inspired vision where Necrogod Loki wields All-Black the Necrosword with dire purpose, Del Mundo imparts the gravity of each scene through color work in each setting and subtle changes in body language. It’s not an action-oriented issue, so all of Loki’s revelations occur in dialogue-heavy panels.
The scene between modern Loki and his younger Viking self establishes this tone for the book in a flame-tossed war zone as the Viking calmly basks in the havoc he has wrought while modern Loki’s appalled tension builds in each panel. And by the final page, Aaron script and Del Mundo's art have combined to deliver a delightful nightmare.