Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Richard Elson
Colourist: IFS’s Ifansyah Noor
Letterer: Virtual Calligraphy’s Clayton Cowles
Previously, in Journey Into Mystery: Asgardia is no stranger to war. Having fought through numerous Ragnaroks and the onslaught of Fear Itself, the Asgardians have stood their ground alone and won. Now, Otherworld, the mystic dimension that holds all of the magic of the United Kingdom is calling for help. However, a pact of non-interference means that the Asgardians cannot help them… directly.
Loki and Leah travel to Otherworld, joining Captain Britain, King Arthur and the rest of its inhabitants against the Manchester Gods, hulking structures of change that are threatening to wipe out Otherworld with their modern beliefs and undefeatable armies. After suffering a crushing defeat, Loki realises that the head-on approach will not work, and a more underhanded scheme will be needed—just what he does best.
Just when you think you have a comic series pinned down, and know what to expect from each issue, there comes an issue that throws you a complete and utter curveball. Say hello to Journey Into Mystery #640, the second installment of the three part Manchester Gods arc. This issue starts off deceptively straightforward, with Loki and Leah asking one-time acquaintance Daimon Hellstrom for help. From there, things get progressively wackier until the final scenes in which Loki listens to the Arch Druid of the Manchester Gods discussing his plans for Otherworld, and the motivations behind the Gods. Along the way are references to multiple places of cultural importance across Britain, which, if you get them all (I know I certainly didn’t) will make this issue even more enjoyable than it already is.
One way to write a good villain is to have the reader sympathize with them, or at least see where they are coming from, to the extent that you find it difficult to label them as a villain at all. The Arch Druid of the Manchester Gods is definitely in this camp. As he exposits about the reason the Manchester Gods exist, you begin to question just whether Loki is right in helping the Otherworldians in their quest to stop the Gods marching. What makes it even better is that Loki does too. The final pages of this issue hit home as you realise that Loki has been going through the same thought processes you have – they’re on the wrong side. How can you possibly work out where this story arc is going next?
Richard Elson’s artwork backs up the insane ideas by adding crazy visuals to them too. With giant walking cities, a druid made of metal, a Son of Satan who had too much evil to drink, and a god of mischief who can’t work out if he’s right or wrong, Elson doesn’t fail. From the broader scenes like the history of the Manchester Gods to the more intimate moment at the beginning of the issue that has Loki, Leah and Hellstrom having a chat, there’s never a misplaced line or colour choice.
Kieron Gillen has been quoted numerous times as saying he can’t believe what he has been allowed to get away with in this arc, and when you read this issue it is obvious why he says so. The ideas contained within are cleverly written as always, but totally bonkers in content. Trying to explain this arc to a non-comic reader would chase them away without even trying. “So the Asgardian god of mischief travels to the British subconscious and tries to battle the idea of progression which is personified as giant walking cities that –wait, why are you running away?”
If you like your comics zany, but hilariously enjoyable, then I cannot recommend Journey Into Mystery enough. And trust me, I will keep trying.
GO Rating: 4/5