Writers: Kieron Gillen and Matt Fraction
Artist: Carmine Di Giandomenico
Colourist: Chris Sotomayor
Letterer: Virtual Calligraphy’s Clayton Cowles
Note: This issue continues from The Mighty Thor #18 and into The Mighty Thor #19
Previously, in Journey Into Mystery: The only way to save his brother, Thor, was for Loki to release the fire demon, Surtur, from his imprisonment in Limbo. Along the way, Loki made enemies of a Hel Wolf, adding to his growing list that already included Hela and Mephisto. Surtur escaped and hadn’t been heard from—until now.
Loki and Thor find Broxton under attack by flames that cannot be doused by normal means. Despite their valiant efforts, Thor is gravely wounded. As Loki tends to Thor’s wounds, they hear a summons from Asgardia—upon closer inspection, the World Tree has been set ablaze by these mysterious flames. And now…Everything Burns.
Like the last time Journey Into Mystery crossed over with another title, I was worried that this title would become unrecognizable from the other involved as they became one story, and like last time, I was pleasantly surprised when reading this issue. While there’s a lot going on in this issue that deals with Thor, it is chock full of Loki moments that truly make you realise just how far he has come since his resurrection as a child.
One of the themes of Journey Into Mystery has, funnily enough, been the journey that Loki has gone through as the series progresses, as he tries desperately to not become that which he was before. Of course, that’s easier said than done when you have your past self sitting on your shoulder as a magpie telling you what to do, but there we go. This issue finally sees all of Loki’s misdeeds since twenty issues ago come to light as Thor and the other Asgardians discover that it was he who released Surtur, and made deals with Hela and Mephisto, and all manner of other things that they don’t approve of. What makes this special however is the fact that Loki goes and tells them all, instead of letting them find out for themselves afterwards. Loki readily admits to his misdeeds, and how he tried his best to do what he thought was right, but it was twisted by his Loki-ness, for lack of a better word.
Between last issue’s outburst about how “If you don’t want Loki to save you, don’t ask Loki to save you!” and his emotional breakdown near the end of this issue, it’s clear that this version of Loki is an entirely new character to the one we all know and loathe. He has truly tried to do his best, and even in the face of all of Asgardia turning their back on him (again), he still wants to do what he can to stop Surtur and the forces of the Manchester Gods. And then there’s Thor, standing right behind him. Thor’s role in Journey Into Mystery has been relatively small, but his position as the only person who trusts Loki is well used here, and really gives the impression that he does love Loki, perhaps now more than ever. Gillen has a blast with all of these characters, and Thor and Loki especially.
His collaborator for the Exiled crossover, Carmine Di Giandomenico, joins Gillen for the Journey Into Mystery issues of this crossover, and his art continues in the same vein as before. His thick lines can sometimes obscure certain details, but conveys even more. The subtle facial expressions he gives characters are especially superb during the more emotional scenes later in the issue, and I could read about his version of Thori all day; he gives the little guy the menace he deserves, and yet still makes him look like what he is—a fluffy little puppy. Whilst Di Giandomenico isn’t really someone you would hold up next to Alan Davis and say “These styles will work well in a crossover,” they don’t share page-time during these issues and, instead, stay restricted to their own books, which makes the transition much easier to cope with.
I really should stop worrying about Journey Into Mystery’s quality dropping as a result of outside influences. It seems that whatever Marvel throws at it, be it crossovers or artist changes, the title continues to be excellent through and through. Loki continues to be a compelling protagonist who has gone through so much already and yet drags himself through even more for the love of his brother and his commitment to doing good, no matter the consequences, and I will truly be sad when this title changes creative team.
GO Rating: 4.5/5