Long time geek, fangirl, mother, and reader. I've got a lot to say, you might not like it all, but it will be honest and hopefully helpful.
This was a reread for me, but it felt new because I read a lot of it out loud to my eldest son, while he marveled at the pictures.
First, this has to be one of my favorite incarnations of Loki. Yes, he even rivals MCU Loki (aka Tom Hiddleston). Kid Loki, as many have come to call him, is all the best parts of both the Marvel universe's version of the god of mischief, and a few choice bits I love from Norse mythology, with a dash of earnestness that makes it hard to not like the kid.
The story opens on a post (yet another) Ragnarok. Seriously, Asgard has Ragnaroks like Sunnydale has apocalypses. I always imagined Buffy sitting with Thor, at some bar at the crossroads of worlds, trading war stories over a couple of pints of mead.
Anyway, Asgard literally fell from the heavens and was all but destroyed. However, thanks to the unlikely sacrifice on the part of Loki, all was not lost. The Asgardians survived, and are trying to make a new home for themselves in Midgard (aka Earth). Loki has returned, reborn in the body of a boy who has no memory of the devious god he had been, but his many enemies haven't forgotten.
Loki is under the protection of his older brother, Thor. The relationship between these two displays all the things I love about Thor. Not only does he's able to still love his brother after everything that has happened, but that there seems to be some part of him that needed this reconciliation. Doug Braithwaite's art is able to capture these beautiful moments of emotion, specifically the expression on Thor's face when he looks at the younger version of the brother he thought was all but lost.
That first scene, and their relationship is a perfect set up for us to understand and empathize with this newer version of one of Marvel's most notorious villains. Kid Loki, like any young person, shoulders the weight of other's expectations, both good and bad. Thor means a lot to Loki, who is still living in the shadow of his former self, and all the many terrible things he did. He's a wonderful metaphor, not only for redemption, but a fascinating examination of the transformative power of change (or in this case rebirth).
All this heavy philosophy aside, this book is fun. It is filled with cheeky humor, some of it inside jokes aimed at old school fans, but there's a lot of broader jokes that will leave even new fans rolling. It's not all coming from Loki either. A lot of the supporting cast of the Thor title are present and deeply involved in the story, from Volstagg, Tyr, Hela, and even Mephisto.
Kieron Gillen does a great job of weaving mythology, Marvel canon and his own compelling storytelling together into a saga befitting a god and adventure comic book. Braithwaite's breathtaking illustrations transport readers into this world, and elevates it to epic heights. At times I just sat and stared at the panels in wonder, wanting to frame them to hang on my wall.
Beyond all this, for me, it was all about Loki and his journey to save the world, and the brother he loves. Despite all the evil he has done and some equally questionable things he has to do, he is very much the hero of this story. A very complex, fascinating and endearing one at that. He brings a levity to the story too, a sense of whimsy and fun that is at the heart of this classic Marvel character that I have always loved.
This is the character who once, in comic book canon, turned an entire street full of cars into ice cream just because he could. While in this story there is no ice cream cars, that same sense of incorrigible mischief is alive and well, beating in the chest of a boy god, hell bent of saving the day. Even if he has to bring on the end of the world, again, to do it.