Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Thor: The Trials of Loki (comics)

Writer: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Artist: Sebastian Fiumara
Collects: Loki #1-4

It's always kind of funny when a character centric miniseries - like the Loki miniseries this collects - has the trade branded with the franchise they come from. It's mostly Marvel that does this; anyone remember the completely redundant name that was "Hulk: Skaar - Son of Hulk"? Now this. How many people out there don't already know Loki is a Thor villain? Hell, who couldn't get that just from the back covers description?

DC doesn't do it - Luthor and Joker kept their names - so why Marvel does it is kind of beyond me.

Anyways, there's that old saying about how a hero is only as good as his villains. I'd argue it's not a hundred percent accurate - take Batman, who works in whatever the hell you put him in regardless of who he's fighting - but for the most part it's true. Lets face it, the villains are just damn interesting; and if they're particularly well written you'll like them anyways despite their deeds.

Loki can be like this, depending on who's writing him. This tale in particular plays up his ambiguity. It's part origin story, part "the world through Lokis eyes". We see the events that lead to his destiny; to bring about Ragnarok and the fall of the gods.

His version of events, anyways.

Everyone is the hero of their own story and Loki is no exception. Thor confronts him in his hiding place, demanding answers for the actions prior to where we start. So Loki tells the story as only he can. He's cast in a sympathetic light, to say the least; his tale is one of jealousy and inadequacy, a lesser among gods. All of his actions in this tale are born from this jealousy; of his half brother Thor, of the love and attention Thor receives, his bond with Sif and more. In a way, his plight and actions become a bit more understandable, though not excusable. You can see how he got there.

Ahh, but there's an unspoken reality in that we're never quite sure just how much of his tale is true.

Loki is, if you're somehow unaware, a trickster god. He deals in lies, deceit and mayhem. It's in his nature. As such, even as we're reading there's a doubt. What parts of the tale are lies? What parts are fact? Is any of it true? Or is the trick that this time, he really is telling the truth, but his very nature leads us to wonder otherwise?

We don't know. Not even Thor knows. He even muses to himself that he's not a hundred percent sure of the details, even those that revolve around him. He is, of course, an immortal god. Time tends to swallow memories, leaving details to fade. In this respect, the very nature of the character is a strength for this story.

You know what else is a strength? The bitchin' art. It's absolutely perfect, especially for the heavy fantasy vibe something like Thor needs. From dragons to rainbow bridges to nine realms. Sebastian Flumara beautifully illustrates them all. It's only amplified by the bright, bold coloring.

Honestly, I can't even think of anything negative to say about this comic. The only thing really keeping it from going higher is perhaps as simple at not quite pushing the envelope like some classics might. But that's just a matter of opinion on my part; I still cannot say enough kind words about this trade. I was engrossed and enjoyed it a great deal.

The Score: 9 out of 10

This is a book that, honestly, has very few flaws. Offhand, I really cannot think of one. It's a great comic, one that can easily be read no matter your knowledge of Thor. It provides all the basic information you need while providing a great story that does not bond itself to any specific time period. It's as easily accessible as they come and well worth picking up, in my opinion.

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