Archive for Loki

The Ghost in the Machine


Batgirl #40

The villain who’s been messing with Barbara Gordon’s life has been revealed, and it’s… Barbara Gordon? It’s actually a computer program taken from Barbara’s brain algorithms soon after she’d been shot and paralyzed. The program is angry, resentful, and fueled with a Batman-esque desire for vengeance and a Joker-esque desire for mass murder. She’s controlling Riot Black with cyber implants, and she’s invited a bunch of people who she’s decided have a very slight chance of someday causing crime to Burnside Square so she can kill them all with a hacked military satellite. Can Batgirl and her allies save Burnside from destruction?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Fantastic art, fantastic story. Love the way this ties so many elements of previous stories together — not just plots, but plenty of characters make prominent appearances. Most of Barbara’s supporting cast shows up at Burnside Square, all tied by Cyber-Babs by extremely tenuous strands to possible future crimes. Batgirl’s solution is a combination of face-punching, acrobatics, and brain work — I only wish she’d been able to do her own hacking, instead of leaving it to someone else.


Loki: Agent of Asgard #12

Old Loki has escaped and bound Teen Loki so he can tell him what the future holds — how Old Loki triumphs over everything, destroys Midgard, and humiliates Thor — so when his younger counterpart hears how it all went down, he’ll be inevitably drawn to the dark side. When everyone considers you, now and forever, no matter how much good you do, as only the God of Lies, why not just go full-on evil?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s not a bad example of how labeling someone can help force them into a path they may not want to go down. If everyone expects you to be evil, and treats you like you are evil, at some point, you’ll get frustrated and live down to everyone’s expectations.

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Going Beyond


Captain America and the Mighty Avengers #5

First things first: Ladies and gentlemen, that is just about the worst comic book cover I’ve seen this year. Maybe all of last year, too. It’s a terrible, muddy, over-chaotic muddle with a style entirely different from the art between the covers.

Now that that’s out of the way — forget the cover. What we’ve got inside is a just plain wonderful comic book. Or rather, what we’ve got inside is a pretty typical comic — until the last page happens.

While Monica Rambeau experiments with her light powers by adopting the form of the Blue Marvel — in the altogether, as they say in the hipster circles — Dr. Positron, the Marvel’s mad scientist son, shows up for a short brawl with the Marvel, Monica, and Spider-Man before revealing that he’s found his brother in the Neutral Zone, but he’ll need help to get him out. Elsewhere, Power Man and White Tiger go hunting for whoever killed Gideon Mace and run into way more trouble than they can handle. And Luke Cage and Jessica Jones have a meeting with Jason Quantrell, sinister CEO of Cortex Incorporated — and we learn who’s really behind Quantrell’s diabolic grin.

Verdict: Thumbs up. No spoilers, folks, but no kidding, when I read the last page of this one, I sat there in Flabbergasted Jawdrop Mode for at least 30 seconds. I don’t know if they can follow up with the promise of that last page, but I’m really looking forward to the next issue now.


Red Sonja #100

Well, it’s not really the 100th issue of this series, but they figure they’ve got the 100th issue to feature Sonja. Sounds iffy to me, but it makes a decent anthology comic. We’ve got creators ranging from Gail Simone to Roy Thomas to Michael Avon Oeming and many more. We get Sonja facing off against spider demons and mutated Rapunzels, we get Sonja taking on an unexpected assistant in a battle against a monster, and we get Sonja meeting one of her own heroes and earning a few wishes.

Verdict: Thumbs up. An incredible variety of stories offered here — some classic hack-and-slash battles, some more introspective stories, and all of them excellent reads. It’s especially wonderful to see a story by Roy Thomas, Sonja’s creator.


Batgirl #39

All of a sudden, everyone in Burnside is after Batgirl — whoever’s running the Hooq app is offering $20 million for her capture, dead or alive. And Barbara is being plagued by weird memory troubles, too. She enlists the aid of Black Canary, then realizes that her brain scan is part of Hooq’s programming — is Batgirl trying to kill herself?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nice art and a much more relateable story. This comic’s emphasis on social media and smartphone apps is making more sense now, and it’ll be interesting to see where things go from here.


Silver Surfer #9

Galactus has come to the planet Newhaven, home to the last survivors of millions of worlds destroyed by the Eater of Worlds. Rejected by Dawn, the Surfer heads out to stop Galactus — by surfing the planet’s moon into his face! That gets Galactus’ attention, but he reacts by stripping the Surfer of his cosmic powers, leaving him powerless and adrift in space. Can anyone stop Galactus now?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Outstanding art, as always, from Mike and Laura Allred. Big ups for Dan Slott’s story, too — surfing a whole moon is pretty inspired, even if it’d pretty obviously be something Galactus would shrug off. I’m assuming Norrin will get re-powered next issue — but with this comic, who knows?


Loki: Agent of Asgard #11

Everyone in Asgard is mad at Loki. Loki is very depressed. Old King Future Loki is very mean.

Verdict: Thumbs down. Just a bit too overdone on the woe-is-me stuff.

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In the Mouth of Madness


Loki: Agent of Asgard #10

The God of Lies is in a thoroughly uncomfortable predicament — he’s no longer able to tell any sort of lies. So of course, Thor — or the Odinson, as he prefers to be called, now that he’s no longer worthy to carry Mjolnir — picks this moment to request a visit. And Loki spills the truth he’s been keeping hidden — he’s not really the proper Loki — he’s a spirit-copy of Loki who managed to destroy and devour the old Kid Loki, taking his place and accidentally acquiring his desire for redemption. But Thor is deeply unhappy to hear that his real brother is basically dead, and he delivers a beatdown, then drags Loki back to Asgard to face punishment. Can the trickster talk his way out of this one?

Verdict: Thumbs up. This has been coming for quite a while, and it’s a credit to the storytelling that it’s as massively painful and traumatic to Loki as it should be.


Red Sonja #14

Sonja has been cursed to never forgive any slight, no matter how insignificant. She’s being stalked by the brother of the wizard she destroyed, and is herself stalking a man named Fellan, who is the last remaining brigand who slaughtered her village in her youth. When she finally finds him, he begs her to forgive him, which, again, isn’t in the cards. She easily destroys his henchmen, but Fellan makes his escape. Realizing that the curse she’s under makes her a danger to everyone she meets, Sonja needs to figure out how to keep herself from becoming a remorseless, soulless slaughterer.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a grimmer story than probably any of the previous storyarcs, but it’s beautifully told and beautifully illustrated — definitely worth checking out.

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Back to the Grindstone

So the problem with taking over a week off for the holidays is that it’s hard to remember when it’s time to get back to work on your blog again. I finally remembered I needed to post some reviews and a Friday Night Fights pretty late yesterday, so here we are, scrambling to get something done.

It was a nice break, by the way. Got to go home and see the folks, got some excellent presents, had to drive home in snow and bad weather, had to deal with much less pleasant weather once I got home, and am still trying to get my brain wrapped around some other responsibilities I need to take care of. Not just the blog, but all kinds of stuff around the house I need to get put together. I got a ton of presents I need to get hammered on the walls and plugged into outlets, and so far, I haven’t done those yet. Luckily, I’ve still got plenty of time before I have to get back to the office, so maybe I can get some of that done this weekend.

But now, on to some quick reviews from the last couple of weeks’ worth of comics.


She-Hulk #11

It’s really disappointing that this series is on its next-to-the-last issue, but let’s enjoy it while it lasts. In this issue, Titania shows up and it’s a near non-stop slugfest all the way through, with some extra secrets that Angie and Hei Hei have been hiding.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Yeah, it’s a slugfest, but it’s a really great slugfest, starring the two strongest female characters in the Marvel Universe, with fantastic writing and art to go along with them. Worst thing about this issue: Just one more to go before it’s cancelled.


Loki: Agent of Asgard #9

A magical event has occurred that’s caused some of Marvel’s heroes and villains to switch allegiences. So the Avengers and X-Men have turned evil, while a group of supervillains have united as the new Avengers to save the world. Loki and the Enchantress are among the new Avengers, while Thor has become a brutish warmonger, no longer worthy of wielding Mjolnir. After the two newly-minted heroes capture Sigurd and Lorelei and return them to Asgard — where they’re subjected to an uncommonly cruel punishment for their crimes on Earth — Loki hatches a plot to remove the incredibly mighty Thor from the battle. Basically, he intends to go to the moon, where Thor left his hammer, and see if he himself is worthy enough to carry it. But can a God of Evil hold that weapon? And what will Thor do to him when he finds out about the plan?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a pretty fun story with tons of drama, and it sets up some pretty major ramifications for future issues of the comic, too.

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Honor and Adventure!


Lumberjanes #8

Jo has been turned to stone, and the devious Diane — secretly the goddess Artemis — blackmails the group to discover where she can go to gain ultimate power before she’ll release Jo from the curse. But once Jen solves the clues in the cavern, Diane double-crosses them, leaving them under attack from the demon-possessed boys from the rival camp. Molly’s skills with anagrams let her reveal how to restore Jo — THE POWER OF FRIENDSHIP! But only one can wield the power that Artemis and Apollo want — and what happens when that one person is one of the Lumberjanes?

Verdict: Thumbs up. An incredibly fun, exciting story, with fun art and characters and tons of great funny stuff. Who would’ve imagined that a raccoon with a funny hat could be so awesome?


Loki: Agent of Asgard #8

Loki and the Enchantress have both gone through the Axis flip afflicting Marvel’s heroes and villains. As a result, both of them are now unquestionably heroes, though they’re not very nice or humble heroes. Verity, the mortal who can always tell when someone’s lying, is less than happy with the result, because Loki and Amora are both grade-A jackasses. And Loki is summoned to Las Vegas to corral someone else who’s gone through a flip of the axis — Thor, god of villainy!

Verdict: Thumbs up. I’m not sold on all the Axis stuff, but this one has some gloriously funny moments, particularly Oddball, the Man with the Deadly Balls! and Loki turning into an adorable magical unicorn to run through Vegas.


Daredevil #10

Daredevil’s contact with the emotional powers of the Purple Man’s children has left him with crushing depression — just in time for the Purple Man himself to come swinging at him with a 2×4. He manages to push past his frazzled emotional state to run Killgrave off, but he’s still stuck with the problem of how to find a bunch of kids with mind-control powers. But even once he tracks them down, he’s going to have to deal with their powers and with the Purple Man’s, too.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great art, excellent story. Decent segment discussing depression, and a nice double-ending with Matt and Kirsten McDuffie.

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Over the Cliff


Daredevil #9

The Purple Man’s empowered children have gotten together and are using their mind-control powers to wreak havoc in San Francisco. Meanwhile, Matt Murdock is excitedly planning on writing his autobiography and looking forward to his $8 million advance. Kirsten and Foggy aren’t sure it’d ever work — Matt doesn’t have the patience to write a whole book, and his life has been, up to the last few years, spectacularly depressing, with most of his girlfriends dying, struggles with poverty, and repeated personal, emotional, and superheroic setbacks. Matt is assuring them he can handle it when he learns about the Purple Kids’ rampage through the city. Their combined emotion control powers, however, are a lot more than he can handle.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good story and fantastic art. The Purple Kids have a great combination of menace and pathos, and the idea of Matt revisiting the old rotten and depressing days is something that’s perversely appealing — he’s had it pretty good for quite a while, so it’ll be interesting to see how Mark Waid writes him over the next issue or two.


Loki: Agent of Asgard #7

Dr. Doom has captured Loki in a field of null-time, trapping him between seconds so he’s unable to come up with any spells or tricks to escape. Verity Willis, a human who can see through any lie, traveled to Latveria with Loki, but she managed to turn invisible with Loki’s amulet of invisibility, but Valeria Richards easily detects that she’s there — but she decides not to reveal her to Doom, who has his own troubles when he finds Latverians fighting amongst themselves — something which Doom has decreed must never happen. But the people refuse to listen to him, and Doom deduces that the Red Skull, now possessing Charles Xavier’s telepathic powers, is causing a worldwide outbreak of hatred and strife. Is there any way to stop the Skull’s hate plague before Latveria destroys itself?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Not as much stuff about Loki this time, but a really excellent focus on Verity, Valeria, and Doom himself. It makes for a really entertaining story.


Trees #6

In the Chinese city of Shu, naive young artist Chenglei is questioning his sexuality and identity after a wild party when he realizes he’s falling in love with Zhen, a trans woman — all of this while the Chinese authorities are taking a new, ominous interest in the city. In Sicily, secret moves are underfoot against the local fascist gangs. And in the Arctic, the Tree-created flowers are a lot more difficult to eradicate than was expected.

Verdict: Thumbs up. The storyline in Shu is just plain outstanding. The scenes between Chenglei and Uncle and especially between Chenglei and Zhen are fantastic, poetic, absolutely beautiful. This is definitely turning out to be another great year for Warren Ellis comics.

Today’s Cool Links: 

  • Here’s a very nice one-minute-long horror movie for you.
  • You scared of Ebola? You scared of ISIS? You watch too much TV. Here are the things worth being afraid of.
  • And Texans, don’t forget, early voting begins today. Get out there and vote. Don’t you vote for that hyper-corrupt hypocritical weasel Greg Abbott. Dude’s so crooked he could hide behind a corkscrew.

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Jane Power


Lumberjanes #6

The Lumberjanes are competing in a game of capture the flag, and they’re on the losing end of things, partly because one of the girls on the other side is a secret teleporter who is definitely not who everyone thought she was. Everyone suspects Jo of being some sort of ancient mythical being in disguise, despite her vehement denials. Will the girls win the game? How will they escape from jail? And who the heck are the ancient mythical beings in disguise?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Wonderfully funny, with great action. The dialogue is fantastic — my favorite wildly hilarious interjection in this issue is “For the love of Sister Rosetta Tharpe.”


Loki: Agent of Asgard #6

It’s been a few months since this one came out last, I think. Most of this issue is centered in Latveria. Dr. Doom is time-traveling, with the help of Valeria Richards. He encounters a vast wasteland in the far future, inhabited only by old Loki and a skull spirit, who inform Doom that he’s standing in the ruins of Latveria itself. Then they puke bugs at him and completely freak him out before Valeria is able to pull him back to the present. This convinces Doom that he needs to eliminate Loki now. After kidnapping him with his time portal, Doom tells him they’re going to have a magical duel that will take the form of a conversation about the nature of stories, and then about the nature of Doom himself — is he flesh and blood, is he a robot, or is he a god himself?

Verdict: Thumbs up. This is really something else — it goes from scores of beetles crawling out of old Loki’s mouth and eyes — and genuinely frightening Dr. Doom himself — to a lengthy philosophical conversation. And it’s still a fascinating, action-filled comic. Definitely worth reading.


Mighty Avengers #14

The Deathwalkers have merged into a single monstrous being and enslaved the world with crippling illusions. Only Luke Cage seems to be immune — he manages to get the Deathwalkers’ chalice to Kaluu, who uses it to combine the Avengers’ spirits into the Avenger Prime. But can even the united Avengers stop the Prime Deathwalker?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The action is good, though the metaphysics are maybe a bit flaky. Not really sure how Luke managed to get free from the Deathwalkers’ influence when no one else worldwide was able to do it. This is apparently the final issue, but it’ll be relaunched in a couple months as Captain America and the Mighty Avengers. Hopefully, it’ll be completely free of the curse of Greg Land.

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A Mushroom with a View


Moon Knight #4

Marc Spector is asked by a sleep researcher to investigate the case of a bunch of people who have all inexplicably gone mad, dreaming the same bizarre dream, when they’ve gone to sleep in the same building. Moon Knight’s investigation takes the direct approach — he decides to go to sleep inside one specific room, despite the risk that he’ll go mad — after all, he’s fairly mad already. Will his fungus-based dreams solve the mystery or doom him to greater insanity?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nothing at all wrong with Ellis’ storytelling here, but the real draw is the lushly, magnificently beautiful artwork of Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire. If you’re into beautiful art, you really have to pick this one up. If you want to see some jaw-dropping examples of the work of an outstanding colorist, pick this up. Jordie Bellaire does a brilliant job of the contrast between the spectacular technicolor of Spector’s dream to the common everyday colors of the rest of the world to the stark, screaming monochrome of Moon Knight himself. I’m serious — y’all go get it.


Loki: Agent of Asgard #5

Loki is uncomfortable with kidnapping Asgardians to have them locked up in prison — especially since those he’s been sent after, like Lorelei and Sigurd, haven’t committed any serious crimes against Asgard, and he doesn’t know why the All-Mother wants them held captive. So he decides it’s time for a heist movie so he can spring Sigurd out of prison. He enlists the aid of Lorelei, a fellow trickster, the Mighty Thor, and Verity Willis, a human who is able to see through any lie, no matter what form it takes. Will they be able to get into Asgard without being discovered? Who’s their secret inside man? And what’s this heist really about?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a wonderfully twisty story, full of last-second escapes and clever tricks and revealed secrets, just like you’d want from any good heist movie.


Black Widow #7

Natasha is in San Francisco, trying to track down the usual bunch of spies and nogoodniks for SHIELD. But she gets made and almost shot — and when she finally nabs the shooter, she’s ready to kill him if he wan’t tell her the info she needs. But San Francisco is now where Daredevil hangs his horns, and he’s not willing to let her commit murder in his town.

Verdict: This is one I just keep going back and forth on. It’s not that bad a story, overall, and the art is very nice — but it’s coming out at the same time as Brubaker and Epting’s “Velvet,” which does the superspy genre much, much better than this one.

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Knuckle Bones


Moon Knight #3

Moon Knight encounters a criminal menace he can’t beat down — a gang of ghosts running around New York beating people up. Marc can’t manage to lay a glove on them, but they have no difficulty kicking his ass all over the street. But the Khonshu side of him reveals that he does have a way he can strike back at the ghosts — entirely without his own knowledge, Moon Knight had been collecting magical armor designed to let him touch the spectral world. The rematch goes much differently.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Outstanding art and storytelling. I absolutely love the design of the skeletal Khonshu and the similar design of Marc’s ghost armor. The action is, of course, grand, but the resolution of the whole thing is even better. Come on, folks, it’s early in this one’s run — better jump on the bandwagon now.


Loki: Agent of Asgard #4

After a thrilling (and snarky) duel of trickery (and swords), the great Asgardian hero Sigurd has managed to steal his ancient sword Gram away from Loki. He takes it to Kaluu, a meditating magician in Tibet, so he can exchange it for the opportunity to escape from the Valkyries, who intend to torture him all through the afterlife because he’s slighted them somehow. Unfortunately, it turns out that Kaluu isn’t really Kaluu — and he intends to torment Sigurd even more terribly. Can Sigurd get out of this? Or will the seemingly dead Loki have to save his bacon?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nicely done action and (naturally) trickery — and not just on Loki’s part. Sigurd spends most of his time lying, and Kaluu is all about the untruths. And I must say I’m also enjoying Sigurd a lot — I wouldn’t mind seeing him with his own series — he’s a wonderfully devious character, especially for someone who’s supposed to be a great hero.


The Returning #2

I missed this one for a while, but finally managed to pick it up last week. Beth Turner is on the run — her family has been murdered and everyone in town thinks she’s a changer — someone who died briefly and then becomes a homicidal maniac later. She turns to her sole remaining friend for help — but then gets attacked by the gas station attendant she’d thought had been killed. And after that, she’s rescued by the man who she thought was a changer out to kill her. But is he really on her side? Should she believe him, or is the convenient FBI agent she meets going to help her escape to a place of safety?

Verdict: Ehh, dunno. It’s kinda all over the place — and the paranoia is high enough at this point that I don’t know who we should be trusting — or if we should be trusting anyone at all. That may be by design, but for now, it feels a bit directionless.

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You Were Made to Be Ruled


Loki: Agent of Asgard #3

Teen Loki doesn’t really appear in this issue — what we’re treated to is a tale of the ancient past of Old Supervillain Loki. After Old Supervillain Loki walks out of his secret Asgardian prison, he travels in time to meet a young Odin. After befriending him, Loki kills a giant otter — and Odin only learns later that the otter was actually an innkeeper’s son who was able to change his shape. Loki agrees to get the innkeeper and his other sons a vast amount of gold to pay them back — and he gets that by finding a giant gar guarding a hoard of gold and blowing it up with a bazooka. But one of the innkeeper’s sons steals the gold and becomes Fafnir the dragon — and then is slain by Sigurd. What does this all have to do with Loki’s byzantine plans?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a fun story of Loki’s treachery — and it’s got the mad, anarchic, drawn-out lunacy you expect to see in old Norse legends. Nevertheless, I do wish we could focus on Teen Loki, instead of taking a detour to a villain spotlight only three issues in…


The Premature Burial

Oh, hey, you got a new comic by horror illustrator genius Richard Corben? Working on more Edgar Allan Poe adaptations? Well, do we know anyone around here who’d be interested in that?

What’ve we got here? Basically adaptations of Poe’s “The Premature Burial” and “A Cask of Amontillado.” Fairly straightforward, I think.

Verdict: Thumbs up. I’m a sucker for Corben — I love almost everything he does. I did have a bit of a stutter at “Amontillado,” which is, far and away, my favorite of Poe’s stories — and therefore, it didn’t quite live up to my mental image of EAP’s tale of cruel, cold-blooded revenge. Still, it’s hard to hold that against Corben — both stories are very, very good, and I reckon I shouldn’t blame him for not being able to read my mind.


Revival #19

Lots of little things going on — Lester Majak’s beloved dog has died and been possessed by a ghost, which then tries to possess Lester. The local rotten wingnut terrorist wannabe is antagonizing the sheriff while his minions get up to something shady undercover. Officer Dana Cypress tries to convince Ibrahaim to help her investigate Em’s murder. The mayor is up to something — he’s got his wife tied up in the bathtub, and he’s hiding something more serious from the Cypresses. And Em meets up with Skateboarding Jesus and the Easter Bunny — and at least one of them is a Reviver.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Some really weird stuff going on, some really ominous stuff, and some really creepy stuff, too — probably ain’t nothin’ creepier than Lester’s dog and his glowing eyes.

Today’s Cool Links:

  • Here’s a really interesting long read about how one arrogant media schmuck single-handedly wrecked what was going to be a big-name independent video game jam.
  • None of the big movie critics understood the Black Widow in Marvel’s movies — in fact, they never even tried to understand her.
  • Marine Todd is really lame when the wingnuts do it, but really awesome when everyone else does it.

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