Review: Loki – Ragnarok and Roll #2

So I really enjoyed Boom’s Loki: Ragnarok and Roll #1. It benefitted from quirky humor, fun and unique characterization, a fluid and fast visual direction, and an intriguing premise. However, like Loki himself, this seems to be a book with multiple facades ... and not all of them are what you might immediately call “good.” Six months, six days and six hours have passed since the end of issue one, which, in case you missed it, makes 666. Hang on, I’ll get to that in a minute. Loki and his metal band, The Tricksters, are all the rage, not just for their music, but for the front man’s  (or is that front god’s) supposedly endearing approach to celebrity.

Openly admitting he is indeed the Norse deity his name implies - a strange thing to do, I thought, for a god of mischief - he urges his fans to become their own gods, with exactly zero of the finesse or subtlety one would expect from his station.

As you might guess, this riles the divine feathers of the Allied Pantheon of Gods, whose rules dictate that he cannot directly recruit a human following. Led by Hercules, these assembled gods demand an explanation from the House of Odin, which of course brings out Thor. A battle ensues between the two beatific brutes that leads them right into Loki’s gig, which is where we leave them until next issue.

Like I said above, I really dug its first issue, but Loki: Ragnarok and Roll #2 felt very forced to me, thanks mostly to Loki’s purpose-dripping speeches and the inclusion of things like that weird 666 cameo, an unnecessarily evil depiction from which the creative team did a great job distancing their story in its first outing.

Loki_Ragnarok_and_Roll_002_coverTo be fair, though, given the fact that this is a book about a god of little white lies, I’m still trying to figure out whether this whole approach was on purpose or not, and that immediately makes me want to withhold serious reservations. My biggest problem lies in the portrayal of Loki himself and how too-cool-for-school he and his bandmates are, making them each pretty unlikeable.

This may indeed be part of a larger, more mischievous scheme, with Loki manipulating the human race and the gods they did and still do worship by hiding in plain sight - but the whole thing felt shoe-horned in, especially as regards the pretty affected way the title character waxes philosophical on the subject of celebrity. It doesn’t help that this book is flooded with heavy-handed exposition to that end.

This book works best starting at about the halfway mark, when Hercules and Thor finally throw down. Their fight reminded me of something you might see in an Invincible book, not just in the visual style, but also in its voracious, hyper-powered action. Then again - and this is not taking anything away from artist Jerry Gaylord, whose stylized work I still enjoyed thoroughly here - that split makes the book feel unbalanced and ungainly-paced.

Also, this doesn’t even well-follow from where issue one left off, with Thor arriving in Midgard on his own to presumably “talk to” Loki about the new lifestyle he has adopted with humans. It just seems to take a new track, this time with the Hercules / Thor fight, which admittedly, and again, was my favorite part of the book.

Maybe it’s because of my own preconceptions with the character (and not just those based on the Marvel representation), but I want him to be more insidious, less in-your-face about his relationship with the devious little humans. His “politics” (so to speak) being in the limelight in such a way as is done here feels disingenuous to the character and even worse, preachy ... which in my opinion is exactly the opposite to what Loki is all about.

At the same time, the humor that gave this title its unique pulse the first time around seems to have already dried up here, leaving a strange and unexpected husk of cliché: one that I hope will turn around as the series develops further.

I’m still going to stick around with this book to see if its direction is just a clever ruse on not just the humans that worship Loki, but also the reader. There are enough hints to suggest that this could very well be the case, but just as many (if not more) that make me think it could simply be a poorly-veiled mouthpiece with some action to satiate the masses. I guess I’ll find out soon enough, because as big a letdown as this was, I’m still not going anywhere. Yet.

Score: 3/5

Writer: Eric M. Esquivel Artist: Jerry Gaylord Colors: Gabriel Cassata Publisher: Boom Studios Price: $3.99 Date: 3/19/14