This article is part of The Reading List, a recurring column in which we encourage you to take your enthusiasm for a particularly groovy movie or TV series and direct it into a wide array of extracurricular studies. This entry ranks the ten best Loki comics and considers where the rascal falls on the morality scale.
Whenever my mom caught me with my hand in the cookie jar, she would declare me as a “jammy devil.” I, like many kids, was a rascal, always up to no good, but doing so with glee painted all over my face. It’s good to be bad, and no one represents that better in the Marvel Cinematic Universe than the God of Mischief, Loki.
The character had a twisty and delicious arc. Loki zigged back and forth between murderous villain and cheeky monkey. By the time Thanos popped his neck in Avengers: Infinity War, his adopted brother Thor had forgiven him for the countless betrayals, and we, the audience, pretty much did the same too. Scamps can’t help themselves.
The Loki we find Loki, the new Disney+ series premiering on June 11th, is not the Loki we watched stumble into forgiveness. No, this is a Loki who has yet to learn from his mother’s killing and his Ragnarok partnership with sibling goldilocks. This Loki is the one caught after The Battle of New York, and the one still very much hellbent on global domination as the first step to universal domination. Will such a variant match the arc of the character we grew to love?
Loki’s comic book counterpart has also reshaped and modified their identity. The character has appeared in various forms, and depending on what state, Loki can go by “he/him,” “she/her, or “they/them.” For this article’s purpose, when discussing the comic book character, Loki will be referred to by “they/them” pronouns when their gender is not specifically notified.
As mainstream audiences swooned, the character’s wicked side waned, and their jammy demeanor thrived. Like MCU Loki, you can’t trust this Loki, but you can trust this Loki to be Loki. They’re a good time and one swimming in a myriad of comic books worth your attention.
The Loki Reading List is mostly populated with titles championing the MCU-influenced character. However, I’ve also thrown in a few classic examples of their wretchedness and at least one title that has nothing to do with the trickster god at all. As you can see in the trailer above, the new Loki series will be swerving through various MCU events. Therefore, it’s probably a good idea to brush up on the TVA (Time Variance Authority) before pressing play on the first episode.
In 2016, the God of Lies and Mischief hungered to become the President of the United States. Also, Loki ran for the Oval Office. Written by Christopher Hastings and illustrated by Langdon Foss and Paul McCaffrey, the Vote Loki series centered on the trickster’s attempt to hold command over America. Clearly, the scoundrel is up to something, and reporter Nisa Contreras is determined to uncover Loki’s conniving deeds. Hastings nails the tone, selling Loki’s pleasantly naughty vibe but never betraying his diabolical side. If ten comic books are too much, and you only have time to read one from this list, Vote Loki is the one.
Loki: Agent of Asgard
Loki: Agent of Asgard precedes Vote Loki by two years, but it’s still very much in the same tone as Hastings’ series. And its writing might be even sharper. Author Al Ewing has made quite the name for himself as the shepherd behind Immortal Hulk and the current Guardians of the Galaxy series. But diving back into his catalog is even more rewarding. The guy can’t deliver a mediocre tale. Agent of Asgard lasted for 17 issues and featured a mixed bag of artists. The general premise is that their beloved All-Mother tosses them various assignments designed to benefit Asgard’s survival. Loki does whatever they can to make sure their realm is secure. And “whatever” truly means “whatever.” They’re not below or above any act. That’s Loki’s charm.
Young Avengers: Style > Substance
After siding with Norman Osborn and his Dark Avengers in Marvel’s Siege event, Loki perished. They then made a deal with Hela, and their name was stricken from Hel’s record, allowing a resurrection to occur. When Loki popped back up into the land of the living, they remained in a child’s physique. Loki has always been a childish character, so why shouldn’t they embrace their nature’s stature? Tooling alongside the Young Avengers, Kid Loki struggles to accept their new self while also holding onto the memories of their old, evil self. Guilt and shame are new emotions for the trickster. Watching them fight through it is some of the most relatable battles Loki has ever fought. Plus, the Young Avengers are an infectious gang, and you’ll leave this title wanting to learn more about all of them.
Loki: Sorcerer Supreme
When writer Donny Cates and artist Gabriel H. Walta took over the Doctor Strange comic book (issues 381 – 385), they wanted to disrupt the status quo. They accomplished this by pitting Stephen Strange against Loki, where the two battled magics to claim the Sorcerer Supreme title. Doc lost. Loki won. Woe to every creature in the galaxy. The title goes straight to Loki’s head, and Stephen Strange has to think like a demon, or like a knavish god himself, to reclaim his position in Marvel Comics. Cates and Walta’s run is filled with delicious oddities, and while Strange is clearly their first love, they have a lot of fun bringing the devil outta Loki.
Thor and Loki: Double Trouble
Thor and Loki: Double Trouble is the most recent title on this Reading List. It’s an all-ages tale with a cartoon aesthetic that, again, works very well paired with Loki’s mischievous nature. The laws of reality happily bend to this scallywag. And it only makes Thor all the more frustrated. Written by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Gurihiru, Double Trouble begins with Loki taunting big bro into behaving very badly. Unfortunately, the meathead doesn’t realize what he’s doing until he’s done it, and when he surveys the destruction he’s caused by Loki’s direction, he goes gunning for his twerp sibling. Wile E. Coyote meet the Road Runner. Meep! Meep!
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