By Steve Morris
Exiled, then. It’s been a little while, as ever, since we last turned the pages of our Journey Into Mystery, but that blank slate is exactly what Exiled’s new addition to the Asgardian mythos has been seeking. Sigurd is a long-lost Asgardian hero who has been in hiding for several years, his godly form hidden in a cupboard as he instead chooses to live a mortal life as a… typical American bachelor. He’s Ryan Reynolds, complete with the sinister edge which Ryan Reynolds hopes we’ll all stop noticing. Beyond that, all we know is that he’s scared.
Sigurd wants to remain off-grid, but the one-shot Exiled issue which opens this Journey Into Mystery/New Mutants crossover makes it abundantly clear that his secret is going to be revealed, um, immediately. The New Mutants have just moved in over the road from his unassuming suburban house, and quickly that leads to Mephisto, the Disir, Loki, Thor, and Dani Moonstar herself – a former Valkyrie, never forget – taking a sudden interest in whatever he’s up to in that little fixer-upper.
With Kieron Gillen joined by ol’ pals Andy Lanning and Dan Abnett for the crossover’s writing duties, you can picture this as a story they developed in a cafe together, but the narrative joins between the two different comics make immediate, natural sense, and all they really needed to do was pull those disparate cords a little tighter together. Several characters were already shared between the titles before the crossover started, with both Loki and Dani Moonstar being given a hel-puppy to look after (although Dani’s was intercepted by Warlock) and Magma recently going on a date with Mephisto, the most potent thorn in Loki’s foot. All it takes it Sigurd’s not-very-subtle existence getting rumbled by Moonstar for everything to start falling apart.
For Journey Into Mystery, its readers have already been shown that no secret will ever stay secret – but it’s the how of the unravelling which is the most interesting story to follow. Loki is in the middle of several spectacular unravellings as this crossover starts, even though he’s no idea any of them could be coming his way. Of them, the Disir are the most dangerous.
As we’ve seen throughout the series, the Disir are pawns being passed around between the various magical powerhouses of the Asgardian world, without a huge amount of say in their own afterlives or ability to rescue themselves from their situation. That automatically gives them a sympathetic edge – you want to see these women escape their chains and regain freedom, right? – but the irresistible narrative twist is that self-actualisation for the Disir comes at a cost to everyone else. They have been wronged, but they’ll still eat you if you get too close.
With Mephisto being their current “owner”, ugh, they are in the worst position imaginable; being tortured repeatedly for fun by the most openly and proudly evil being in existence. Yet as the comic carefully explains upfront as its most important piece of information: the Disir are both victim and villain. Their current position came as they were found cannibalising their allies, for which they were cursed by Bor as a result. So we’re told.
Secrets upon secrets, and appearances beyond appearance. When Sigurd, feeling he’s been rumbled, puts his ancient armour back on, the Disir are summoned by their most potent chance of escape: that leads Mephisto to put in a complaint with Loki, who realised that his recent dealings with the Lord of Hell have left him exceptionally compromised.
As the New Mutants and Loki are pulled together by fate (slash/a bunch of British writers in a coffee shop), so Loki realises his obligations are greater and yet far more tenuous than he’d previously recognised. A narrator can tell his story in the way he wants it to be told, but Loki is not the owner of his own story in the way he thought he would be.
Ever his own worst enemy, he therefore leans on even more obligations: he asks Hela and the returned Thor to help him out, each of them assembling a team of allies who don’t trust Loki. Even worse, he actually turns to the devil on his shoulder, Ikol the raven. Whilst the New Mutants try to understand the jar of extremely vicious worms they’ve accidentally opened, Sigurd recites some weird magic scroll and all the Asgardians vanish, apparently turned into humans the same way Sigurd was when the story started. From a certain viewpoint, Loki’s put everyone in trouble because a raven gave him directions.
We all know this secret will be unravelled just like the others. But Loki brought everybody he knew into this latest journey into mystery – and with the loss of his godly consciousness, he’s just lost the only thing which could protect him from the consequences of his godly choices. For all his good intentions, Loki keeps assuming that he’s leading his own story. But what happens when he isn’t even his own narrator?
Writers: Kieron Gillen, Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning
Artist: Carmine di Giandomenico
Colourist: Andy Troy
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.
This post was made possible thanks to the Shelfdust Patreon! To find out more, head to our Patreon page here!