Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Richard Elson
Colourist: IFS’s Ifansyah Noor
Letterer: Virtual Calligraphy’s Clayton Cowles
(Note: This issue continues from New Mutants #43)
Previously, in Journey Into Mystery: With Loki’s part in Thor’s apparent death during Fear Itself as their bargaining chip, the All-Mothers of Asgardia have him in their back pocket. If he does not act as their covert operations agent, then they will spill the beans and inform Thor and the other Asgardians, which will make Loki even more of a pariah than he already is.
Loki has (forcibly) befriended Leah, handmaiden of Hela, as well as adopting a murderous hellhound he has named Thori, in honour of his then-dead brother. As well as these companions, Loki is followed by Ikol, the embodiment of his adult self trapped as a magpie. Ikol offers counsel, but his motives are as unfathomable as they are despicable.
After the insanity of the Exiled crossover, Journey Into Mystery returns to its own book for a three part storyline involving the Otherworld, the British realm that holds all of their magic before another crossover takes control of the book in August. You might think that this arc might dial back the craziness since it will no doubt be surrounded on both sides by it, but then you’d think wrong, since Kieron Gillen goes the extra mile to make this arc even more insane than before – and if you’ve been reading this series since it began with #622, you know how tall an order that is.
All of the arcs that Journey Into Mystery has been through so far have been quite safe in terms of location. The entire Fear Itself arc was set in and around Asgardia, and even Exiled was a purely Asgardian story at its core, so this Manchester Gods arc takes Loki and Leah out of their element and opens up an enormous amount of story opportunities and hilarity ensues as a result. Seeing Loki dealing with Britain and Otherworld is hilarious, but also informative as it shows readers how both worlds operate, which is helpful given that Otherworld isn’t often spotlighted in the Marvel Universe as a whole.
There’s a lot of time spent setting up the Otherworld conflict and getting Loki across the pond into the UK, but Gillen manages to squeeze a lot into the final few pages of this issue, which gives the storyline scope and a less than predictable ending. Whilst it feels like we haven’t covered a lot of ground just yet, there’s scope for expansion in the next two issues that will likely make this opening issue seem much more important later on. The players are all in place and Loki’s brain is ticking over to try and solve this enormous problem before him, and we can guarantee that whatever he comes up with the deal with the Manchester Gods and their threat, we’ll never have seen it coming.
Richard Elson’s clean cut style is pushed to its limits in drawing Otherworld, with a superb double page battle spread in the latter stages of the issue that is gorgeous, and some hilarious little details like Leah’s facepalms in the background of numerous panels. I’d also like to point out Stephanie Hans’ covers, which are often left without praise – just check out Thori chewing on Leah’s dress.
With the Exiled crossover and Journey Into Mystery shipping this week too, it seems like we’ve had Journey Into Mystery for six weeks in a row, and it shows no sign of letting off steam as we move into yet another arc. Taking Loki out of his comfort zone has added a new edge to the series, and it already had more edges than porcupine with a ruler. This series hasn’t had a bad issue yet, and this is no exception.
GO Rating: 4/5