Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Trade Waiting - Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers

With the Thor movie imminent and interest in ye olde goldilocks at an all time high, I thought I'd take a look at one of my all time favourite Thor stories, the 2004 painted miniseries, Loki, finally reprinted and now retitled as Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers.  Hit the jump to find out why I love this comic as much as I do.

Written by Rob Rodi, Stan Lee & J.M. Straczynski
Art by Esad Ribic, Jack Kirby & Olivier Coipel
Collects Loki #1-4, Journey Into Mystery #85, Journey Into Mystery #112 (Tales of Asgard backup) & Thor #12

For every hero, there is a villain.  Their story is almost always told from the hero's perspective.  However, there are two sides to every story and the self-titled 2004 miniseries, Loki (now rebranded Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers), did just that for the Thor/Loki story.  The character driven story follows Loki and we learn more about the character, his inner workings and motivations in this four issue miniseries than in decades of comics in a tale told in a manner that is remarkably similar to how John Gardner's Grendel told the events of Beowulf from the monster's perspective.

Loki triumphant.
The difference between Loki and Grendel is that this is an out of continuity tale as opposed to a direct retelling of previously known events.  It began its story with Loki triumphant, having bested Thor and his allies and conquered Asgard.  The story uses this premise to great effect, following Loki as we see what happens after a villain is successful and, in turn, learn more about Loki through his interactions with his prisoners, allies and his own quiet moments of contemplation.

Loki's motivations and thought processes are the best parts of this story.  Loki has always been an enigmatic character with varying agendas.  Some chalk this up to his being the god of lies or mischief and just basically wanting to cause chaos while others go with the jealousy of Thor or his upbringing alongside Asgard's favourite son.  Others still say it is simply Loki being Loki - there is no real motivation for him other than he is the villain and must be the villain and play his part in bringing about Ragnarok.  

All three of these motivations are explored in the story.  We follow Loki as he discusses his plans for Asgard now that he is in charge and he eventually makes his way to visiting his prisoners, such as Sif, Balder and his father, Odin.  Each plays off Loki well and typically lead their respective conversations.  Sif believes Loki is evil simply because he is Loki and has always treated him as such.  Only now does she thank him for proving her right in her beliefs.  

Odin 'defeated'.
Odin was of the mind that he failed his adopted son as a father and that is why Loki is the way he is now, though Loki quickly calls Odin on his lies during their conversation, bringing forth the knowledge and accusation that Odin only took Loki in to further polarize Asgard's opinion of Thor.  For how could Thor, the perfect son, not look and appear that much better when compared to Loki.  He even accuses Odin of fostering evil in Loki and refusing to see any good and only responding with ridicule and disgust at any accomplishments.  It was one of my favourite scenes in a story that had many great scenes as Odin's response is only silence and an inability to refute Loki's claims, thus proving his own, dark intentions for Loki.  How could Loki be anything but what he became in such an environment?  It brings up a lot of great nurture versus nature debate and the fact that, at this point in the story, Loki is already contemplating breaking the bonds of fate, which Balder told him of and Karmilla confirmed with magic for him, by sparing his brother.  To see him 'defeat' Odin in this moral debate was just a fantastically written scene. 

Speaking of Balder, their conversation follows the latter motivation I spoke of above concerning fate and if Loki is simply evil by fate's dark designs.  Loki learns of fate's grand plan for the Loki's across all realities and how in a thousand other realities, Loki is the villain and will always be defeated and punished for his actions.  Balder knows of these things from his near death experiences and brief time spent in Hel.  Loki was horrified at the prospect that he has no control over his actions and tries to deny the claims by trumpeting his victory over Thor and ruling Asgard, but the conversation shakes him and drove most of the story forward.  We learn a great deal simply through Loki trying to prove to himself, and thus the reader, that he is not evil or controlled by fate.  He is Loki and fate be damned.  It makes the ending, in which, after throwing off the shackles of fate and moving to free his brother, Thor, that much sadder as said Thor breaks free just as Loki comes to his resolution.  Unable to forgive or believe any words from the God of Lies at this point, it makes for a poignant ending that stays true to the classic stories of gods and fate mythology.  

Sometimes you hurt the ones you love the most.
Of course, speaking of this story without mentioning the artwork would be a crime most unforgivable.  Esad Ribic is absolutely phenomenal.  His painted art is some of the best I've seen in the comic medium and without his talents, particularly in regards to facial expressions, many scenes simply would have fallen flat.  From Odin's silent defeat to Loki's reactions to his mother's appearance in his court or even flashbacks to earlier defeats or experiences, it is all thanks to Ribic's art that these scenes are as powerful as they end up being.  My favourite scene, in particular, is nearly all silent panels with Loki contemplating why, if Thor is the only one whom ever loved him out of all the Asgardians, is he killing him and not the others.  The panels where Loki silently contemplates his own question before answering make the scene and his posture and demeanor as that answer - because Thor stopped loving him - are testaments to Ribic's craft.  

For extras, the new trade version comes bundled with two relatively unrelated, though Loki themed stories in the form of Journey into Mystery #85 and #112, featuring the first appearance of Loki in a classic Stan Lee and Jack Kirby tale, and the recent J.M. Straczynski and Olivier Coipel Thor #12, which showed Loki, with the aid of Hela, manipulating events in the past and acting as a pseudo origin story showing how Odin's father, Bor, died and how Odin, in turn, killed Loki's father and adopted Loki, all due to Loki's machinations.

It's clear these all have a Loki theme and, like the Loki miniseries, all give perspective to the Thor/Loki relationship or insights into Loki's mind.  I was actually surprised at how well Thor #12 stood alone and required little to no context or knowledge of that ongoing.  Definitely an inspired choice for additional content that really suited the style and tone of the trade.  And, of course, the Lee/Kirby tale was great for what it was and a welcome addition. 

The final bit of extra material was the standard sketches, unused covers and a two page original pitch for the project by Rob Rodi that I thoroughly enjoyed.  I would have loved to have seen more notes and earlier ideas for the series, but this was definitely a nice read and I'm glad they included it.  It's curious that they originally intended for a longer, more drawn out battle to end the story once Thor broke free.  Even more curious was that he had a quote and ending scene already planned in the original pitch that differs greatly from how it actually ends.

Verdict - Must Read.  One of the greatest Thor stories ever told just happens to be a story revolving entirely around Loki.  Fantastic character study of Loki, beautiful painted art and excellent extra material makes this the complete package.  A trade and story everyone should own and read.
Like this review? Interested in Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers? Buy it on Amazon.com and help support the Weekly Crisis!

Related Posts


oakleyses said...

prada handbags, christian louboutin shoes, kate spade, kate spade outlet, tiffany and co, replica watches, longchamp outlet, tory burch outlet, tiffany jewelry, coach outlet store online, nike air max, michael kors outlet, oakley sunglasses wholesale, ray ban sunglasses, prada outlet, longchamp outlet, christian louboutin, michael kors outlet, burberry handbags, polo outlet, gucci handbags, coach outlet, nike outlet, burberry outlet, polo ralph lauren outlet online, ray ban sunglasses, coach outlet, oakley sunglasses, christian louboutin outlet, michael kors outlet online, jordan shoes, chanel handbags, nike air max, michael kors outlet store, nike free, longchamp outlet, michael kors outlet online, christian louboutin uk, oakley sunglasses, michael kors outlet online

oakleyses said...

hollister uk, true religion jeans, louboutin pas cher, new balance, north face, guess pas cher, nike air max, converse pas cher, michael kors, air max, michael kors pas cher, ray ban uk, ray ban pas cher, true religion outlet, polo lacoste, sac vanessa bruno, true religion outlet, longchamp pas cher, nike tn, hollister pas cher, north face uk, sac hermes, ralph lauren uk, nike roshe, coach purses, true religion outlet, timberland pas cher, michael kors outlet, burberry pas cher, nike free run, lululemon canada, jordan pas cher, sac longchamp pas cher, oakley pas cher, vans pas cher, hogan outlet, mulberry uk, nike air force, polo ralph lauren, nike blazer pas cher

oakleyses said...

ferragamo shoes, north face outlet, instyler, nike air max uk, nfl jerseys, nike roshe run uk, asics running shoes, new balance shoes, mont blanc pens, abercrombie and fitch uk, mcm handbags, bottega veneta, p90x workout, soccer shoes, chi flat iron, nike trainers uk, wedding dresses, abercrombie and fitch, mac cosmetics, jimmy choo outlet, nike huaraches, nike free uk, reebok outlet, north face outlet, babyliss, hermes belt, soccer jerseys, nike air max uk, beats by dre, ghd hair, hollister, nike roshe run, giuseppe zanotti outlet, vans outlet, valentino shoes, insanity workout, longchamp uk, lululemon, herve leger, celine handbags

oakleyses said...

iphone 6 cases, juicy couture outlet, oakley, gucci, timberland boots, marc jacobs, pandora charms, karen millen uk, swarovski, converse, nike air max, pandora uk, baseball bats, swarovski crystal, coach outlet, ralph lauren, links of london, ray ban, hollister, montre pas cher, lancel, toms shoes, louboutin, vans, hollister, nike air max, pandora jewelry, juicy couture outlet, replica watches, wedding dresses, converse outlet, supra shoes, thomas sabo, hollister clothing

oakleyses said...

michael kors outlet online, tiffany jewelry, tiffany and co, longchamp outlet, burberry outlet, prada outlet, jordan shoes, nike air max, nike free, michael kors outlet online, oakley sunglasses, christian louboutin shoes, tory burch outlet, nike air max, polo ralph lauren outlet online, kate spade outlet, michael kors outlet online, burberry handbags, christian louboutin, oakley sunglasses, kate spade, polo outlet, christian louboutin uk, ray ban sunglasses, coach outlet, coach outlet store online, longchamp outlet, replica watches, christian louboutin outlet, longchamp outlet, coach outlet, ray ban sunglasses, chanel handbags, michael kors outlet, michael kors outlet, oakley sunglasses wholesale, prada handbags, michael kors outlet store, gucci handbags, nike outlet

oakleyses said...

timberland pas cher, jordan pas cher, polo ralph lauren, nike free run, sac longchamp pas cher, michael kors pas cher, burberry pas cher, new balance, nike air force, north face, michael kors, vans pas cher, mulberry uk, nike blazer pas cher, hollister pas cher, nike roshe, lululemon canada, louboutin pas cher, guess pas cher, sac vanessa bruno, sac hermes, converse pas cher, nike air max, true religion jeans, longchamp pas cher, hogan outlet, ralph lauren uk, nike tn, ray ban uk, north face uk, oakley pas cher, air max, true religion outlet, true religion outlet, hollister uk, ray ban pas cher, coach purses, true religion outlet, polo lacoste, michael kors outlet

oakleyses said...

jimmy choo outlet, asics running shoes, instyler, vans outlet, nike roshe run, chi flat iron, soccer shoes, ghd hair, insanity workout, hermes belt, nike huaraches, nike trainers uk, bottega veneta, babyliss, ferragamo shoes, mont blanc pens, abercrombie and fitch, nike air max uk, mac cosmetics, longchamp uk, celine handbags, north face outlet, nike roshe run uk, beats by dre, nike air max uk, wedding dresses, new balance shoes, lululemon, north face outlet, soccer jerseys, nfl jerseys, giuseppe zanotti outlet, p90x workout, valentino shoes, herve leger, abercrombie and fitch uk, hollister, mcm handbags, nike free uk, reebok outlet

oakleyses said...

nike air max, vans, baseball bats, montre pas cher, converse, juicy couture outlet, iphone 6 cases, links of london, pandora charms, pandora jewelry, lancel, juicy couture outlet, swarovski, pandora uk, marc jacobs, thomas sabo, karen millen uk, wedding dresses, supra shoes, hollister, replica watches, ray ban, swarovski crystal, converse outlet, timberland boots, nike air max, toms shoes, coach outlet, louboutin, hollister clothing, oakley, hollister, gucci, ralph lauren

Post a Comment

Thanks for checking out the Weekly Crisis - Comic Book Review Blog. Comments are always appreciated. You can sign in and comment with any Google, Wordpress, Live Journal, AIM, OpenID or TypePad account.