Comic Review: Journey Into Mystery #643
Writers: Kieron Gillen and Matt Fraction
Artist: Carmine Di Giandomenico
Colourist: Chris Sotomayor
Letterer: Virtual Calligraphy’s Clayton Cowles
(Note: This issue continues on from Mighty Thor #19 and into Mighty Thor #20)
Previously, in Journey Into Mystery: Loki freed the fire demon, Surtur, from his imprisonment in Limbo in order to stop the Serpent and his armies of fear. Loki also allowed the Manchester Gods to take over the British subconscious known as Otherworld. Oh, and let’s not forget that Loki has also made enemies of Hela, and Mephisto. All in all, Loki’s not doing very well, despite the very best of intentions. We think.
Now, Surtur has ignited the flames of war between the Aesir and the Vanir, and battles rage across all of the Nine Realms. Loki and Thor are fighting battles on all fronts, while the Warriors Three find themselves in reluctant positions of leadership. But the worst is yet to come, as Surtur’s villainous Steward has been revealed as Leah, Loki’s previous best friend who was supposedly removed from existence when Hela drank from the Holy Grail to restore her severed hand. And now, as Surtur’s flames ignite across all of existence, Everything Burns…
After the cliffhanger in Mighty Thor #19, I thought that Fraction and Gillen had played their trump card, and we were in for a bit more subdued storytelling as Loki and Thor took the battle to Surtur. In this third instalment of the weekly storyline, Everything Burns rockets up another notch, which I didn’t think was possible, and presents at least two more plot twists to add to the ever-mounting pile. Gillen and Fraction’s swansongs of their respective Asgardian titles are shaping up to be an excellent conclusion to their runs on both books.
There are battles galore, with Volstagg now in charge of the Asgardian forces that are waging war with the Vanir and the forces of Surtur and the Manchester Gods, whilst Thor does his best to keep the peace across the Nine Realms, and Sif mounts an offensive of her own behind the scenes. Plus, Surtur and Leah plot further downfalls, and Master Wilson mourns what has occurred in Otherworld. And then, there’s Loki.
Loki is centre stage in this issue, as you’d expect in an issue of Journey Into Mystery, and it’s obvious that we are finally coming to the end of his long journey. As he comes face to face with a familiar face, descending into Muspelheim with his faithful firebreathing pooch at his side (who has gone through his own little character arc without even noticing it), Gillen pulls the wool away from our eyes as the true depths of Loki’s plots are finally revealed.
Or are they? What makes this incarnation of Loki even more enjoyable and compelling than his adult counterpart is that you truly don’t know exactly what side he is on—older Loki could pretend to be the good guy for a little while, but the reader would always ultimately know that he was going to turn on the real heroes in the end. However, Kid Loki is almost a blank slate, and as a result, there’s actually a possibility that he will do the right thing, as opposed to reverting to type. That uncertainty means that even when all the plot points are stacked to show Loki as one or the other, we still can’t be sure exactly what’s happened—to get that balance so perfect is masterful storytelling, and I cannot fault this issue at all.
If Kieron Gillen has to leave Journey Into Mystery, I think he could do a lot worse than ending on this high note. Everything Burns has been a rollercoaster ride of neck breaking plot twists and insane levels of action that will rock the Nine Realms for a long time to come. It has also been a quiet look at Loki’s journey as a character, and just how far he has come (or not, as the case may be), and this issue is no exception. There are only two issues of the title left under Gillen, and if they are as strong as this issue, I will be able to happily bid farewell to him.
GO Rating: 5/5