By Steve Morris
After an issue of fun devil-based mischief, we’re back to the Fear Itself tie-in story for Journey into Mystery, as the creative team go completely undercover for the story of how Loki breaks into the Serpent’s stronghold whilst everyone else is distracted by the big fight between the Serpent and Thor (which takes place in Fear Itself). As such, this is the first half of a heist story, although we still have no idea what Loki wants from within the Serpent’s lair.
When pressed on what the plan is, he basically admits that he’s hiding the truth from everyone in his team, although it feels like Leah may have half an idea already. He states as fact that there’s no way to stop the Serpent, and that nothing he does will be able to save Thor – which is ultimately proven true in the main Fear Itself series, where Thor dies in battle with his uncle. As he’s unwilling to tell the team what they’re meant to do, what he instead does is urge each of their instincts.
As the team make their way towards the library, we get the opportunity to see each one bring their unique talents to the various problems that face them. Leah works magic, Tyr uses tactical misdirection, and the Disir stab things a lot. Loki, though, doesn’t actually do much at all here. His goal instead is to push each of them to do something they like doing. The bloodlust of the Disir gets sated, and Tyr gets to show off and feel important again after being sent to Hel. Leah, meanwhile, gets patronised by Loki, which is enough to distract her right now. Loki knows what will keep his team preoccupied, and he lets them get out all their anger on the various minions they find through the Serpent’s base.
Although he clearly has his own talents, he avoids utilising any of them through this issue, right up until the last page. At that moment he reveals what Twilight’s Shadow actually is: a pen. When he picks it up, we finally realise what he’s planning: he has a story to tell.
This is what matters in Journey Into Mystery. This is a particularly bloodthirsty issue which – in terms of the violence used – refuses to offer anything satisfactory for the readers, or ultimately for the team. Enemies are killed off suddenly, without warning or build-up, to deny the readers any of the bloodlust which the Disir are themselves seeking as they go about their bloody mission. Hlokk tries to pause to savour a victory at one point, only to be told to shut up; a later scene sees them immediately kill some incredibly strange looking creatures who are guarding the library.
We’re getting all the idea of battle here, but none of the satisfaction, and that’s because the fighting itself is just a means to an end. This isn’t a Thor comic, where the characters revel in the glory of battle. It’s a Loki comic, and here the violence is a distasteful distraction from more important matters. Loki isn’t even that worried by what’s going on. He happily sends the Destroyer off to be a decoy for them, without a second thought. As he wanders through each new corridor, he’s basically skipping – he knows that everything around him is basically set in stone, including his brother’s death, and so he walks with the gait of somebody who knows all the cheat codes.
The fact that he chooses a pen over a sword is telling, although perhaps the obvious sort of subversion from a comic like Journey Into Mystery. We just spent an issue on a story being told by Mephisto, which was ultimately just an excuse for him to grind up a human and use their blood to ink a casual message designed to end in maximum carnage. Here we spend our time building up another narrative – a heist story – only to find out that Loki isn’t planning to take something from the Serpent, but instead to add something. Given that people died just from the impact of one word, “Disir”, right at the start of the issue… just imagine what Loki might be able to do with a whole book?
Journey Into Mystery #628
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Whilce Portacio
Inker: Allen Martinez
Colourists: Arif Prianto and Jessica Kholinne
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Steve Morris runs this site! Having previously written for sites including The Beat, ComicsAlliance, CBR and The MNT, he can be found on Twitter here. He’s a bunny.