By Steve Morris
The conclusion of the The Terrorism Myth is the reason the whole storyline happened: you get the sense that the idea of the finale was invented first, and the rest of the narrative was placed to set it up. Essentially Loki wins by pitting all the Fear Lords into eternal stalemate: with them all fighting over a single item of power, nobody is able to claim it and doom us all. The equal greed of all the people in power is the one thing which protects us all, it seems. Checks and balances are in place to make sure that one guy doesn’t get just enough power to ruin us all, although he can still stay sat in extensive power in the meantime. This is, yes, the British Politics issue. There’s even a crown for everybody to fight over.
The second meeting of the Infinite Embassy offers much more than the first meeting, which simply gave us an introduction to the various Fear Lords. Second time round, we’re able to see the repetitive ceremony which makes up the meeting, right down to the panel structure matching their previous appearance in the series. Once more they gather round in their chairs and manage to say absolutely nothing about absolutely nothing: Loki has sent them all a message asking them to gather for some unknown reason, and they duly obey the random command without any reason or particular motive. Once sat down, they go round in a circle, accusing each other of having sent the message, none of them able to shift from the conversation or offer anything different aside from snide comments and accusations.
The implication is clear, although none of them are willing (or aware enough?) to say it: they’re effectively powerless, reliant on other people to claim any kind of strength of their own. That’s clear with “the Lurking Unknown”, who literally appears to grow in size based on how many people in the room are scared of him. Sat in this room, he’s tiny. But the other Fear Lords are tiny as well: they sit in on council meetings when they should be off causing fear itself for the universe, shifting all their blame on each other rather than doing anything themselves. It’s like watching Prime Minister’s Question Time, when nobody has any answers for anything and are most concerned with making sure that other people are diminished. They could be boosting each other and making their shared goal into something truly fearsome: instead they reduce their power amongst each other, making sure nobody ever gets too much power to genuinely make something of themselves.
Loki – an external factor – pushes them to actually get off their chairs and do something, and they make a grand gesture of suiting up in armour and looking fearsome as they confront Nightmare. Again, this is very much British politics in a nutshell, where nobody paid any attention to the empty seat next to them until they thought it might threaten their own seat in turn. “We have the moral right to do whatever we desire” says Dweller-in-Darkness, which is Kieron Gillen predicting Brexit years before it happened. As they round on Nightmare, it becomes clear that there is only one crown here, and so only one person can wear it. Again: if they could settle on one person to have the leading power, then everyone else would benefit, but they’re too greedy, too grasping, for something like that. Nightmare might be the most powerful member of the Embassy, but the Embassy itself remains the most powerful of all.
In other words: no one person is stronger than the institution.
Once somebody else steals the power, everybody immediately teams with Nightmare to take that person down – and so power is shared. Because nobody is allowed to be the best, everybody has to be average. It forms a circle, in a double-page spread which shows how each Fear Lord, upon grasping the crown, immediately has it seized from them by the next Fear Lord. Nobody ever takes full power because the next set of hands grabs it off them for themself. It matches up to, specifically, British politics: as we’ve learned over the last three years, the Republicans are more than happy to say that they’re not as good as Donald Trump, which is as embarrassing for them as it is destructive for that whole damned country. In America is seems that the many serve the one, because the American Dream has wrecked the collective cultural mindset across the pond. In Britain, the needs of the many are ignored by the few because they’re fighting for a mystical power none of them are good enough to manage on their own.
Two nations: two stupid power structures. Wheyyyyy.
After Loki has won the day, we see that system of checks and balances come back to him as well. Asgard’s All-Mother insist that somebody make amends for the broken window of the first issue, which leads to Leah throwing herself through the window. Now: an apology would have sufficed, but Leah sees balance in a more literal fashion. The bully from the previous issue is clearly scared of the pair, and that fear leaves them in the seat of power, which Loki gladly accepts. He offers an apology of sorts, aware that the bully is too scared not to accept it. However, Leah sees that this isn’t a fair balancing of the books, and so she has to jump through the window in order to make things fair and even.
Which leaves Leah, Loki and the bully all back where they began, in a sense. The only person who actually suffers? The poor woman who runs the shop, who has had her window smashed twice in a row. This is the British Politics issue, after all – what would it be without the rich and powerful gleefully destroying the careful lives of the working class?
Journey Into Mystery #636
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Richard Elson
Colourist: Ifansyah Noor
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.