I’ve been having a hard time collecting my thoughts after reading Loki #1, which I suppose is apt since we are talking about a comic titled “The Liar”.
On the surface, it’s the Marvel debut of one of the most exciting writers in comics, Dan Watters, (Home Sick Pilots, Lucifer, Sword of Azrael, The Seasons Have Teeth) working alongside Germán Peralta (Black Panther, Thanos) and the ever excellent Mike Spicer (The Swamp Thing, Do A Powerbomb, Stillwater) on colors. So why isn’t this an instant lovefest on my part?
The problem is trust.
I’m not talking about trust in the storytellers here. It’s trust in what they are choosing to show.
From the first page, there’s the sort of narration you’d expect from this kind of book– it has that storybook atmosphere, but there’s something off. By the end of the issue, it’s revealed who’s speaking to the reader, and I won’t spoil that here. It’s truly a wild opening, and the more I’ve considered it, the more I like it, but this didn’t pull me in the way I thought it would. It does to a point, then it holds me at arms length, like an opponent in a card game. We have a few more turns before the game is over and I believe this is one that I may not get a good grip on until all the cards are on the table. Then again, this is Loki we’re talking about. Does he ever put all the cards out for us to see?
That’s exactly the point. If I met Loki in real life, I wouldn’t trust him. I couldn’t. Therein lies the brilliance of this book.
We see full villain Loki on page two and then when we see him again, he’s messing with Thor. There are several pages in between those moments, and when we turn the page to see Thor standing and monologuing about Loki, it all serves the purpose of setting where the reader should be. I want to lean in here– I want to be told a whimsical storybook tale. Those things are here, but the creators are very careful in making sure I’m in but only cautiously. They are using little tricks to carry the reader through, like some captions are describing exactly what is in the panel but that’s not a flaw. It’s a trick. Like when Loki is investigating what happened with Thor, he picks up the book and says “Ah. Okay. This may have been my bad.” You could take Loki at his word but should you?
This book is a liar. They say as much in the title, which is prominently featured when we see Thor catching up with Loki. Everything is there, in plain sight. But when I reached the end of the issue, I was confused. I didn’t know whether I liked this or not. Because I don’t know if I can trust this book.
Can I trust what I’ve seen here? What is Loki really up to? Surely, he didn’t teach those Frost Giants how to read just for funsies. Surely, he knew.
Again, this is the brilliance of this comic. Watters is fresh off of Sword of Azrael, which was fast-paced and all style– an undeniably fun comic. I think that’s what I was expecting here, maybe subconsciously, but it was there. This is why he’s perfect here: Watters, like Loki, is a trickster.
I think this is a book to celebrate because I can’t think of another time in recent memory that a Marvel comic was a challenging (in a positive way) read. Also, with this book on this level it makes me even more excited for what the new Thor book will bring.