Matt Fraction told fans not to complain. You don’t need the tie-ins. But fans are not so trusting; if they’re already pulling titles such as Thor, Invincible Iron Man, Secret Avengers, and whatever else that ties into this mega-event, they’re going to keep going. And, if reviews are decent for something else relevant, they’ll pick that up too. Thankfully, after years and years of savaging fans with colossus amounts of crossover stories, Marvel steps up and says you don’t have to. But if you’re into fine storytelling and would like to see the opposite side of Fear Itself’s gloomy spectrum, Journey Into Mystery feels almost a necessity.
Because of Loki, of course.
Thor’s mischievous brother-in-blood has been the villain behind several of Marvel’s latest tragedies, none more popular than the fall of Asgard, Siege. The Mighty Thor wanting his kid brother around is akin to the Batman and Joker needing one another for their own fulfillment. Thor treats the now adolescent Loki like a delinquent son in need of hope (oh, hi, Hope -- did I just play matchmaker?). Unfortunately for Thor, besides the result witnessed in last week’s Fear Itself #1, this game of thrones has just started.
Loki is now playing a deal with the devil himself, the spirits of the elder Lokester.
In his extended time following J. Michael Straczynski in Thor writer Kieron Gillen proved that he’s more than capable of handling the Nordic voice and spirit of these warriors, maidens, majesties and master enchanters. Gillen even comes off more Neil Gaiman than usual -- narrating the issue’s opening few pages in an almost cryptic dreamlike state. He then reverts to outstanding humor, referencing internet “trolling” and a scene where young Loki spoils Volstagg with assortment of roasted fillings.
Artist Doug Braithwaite has seemingly been the go-to guy when statuses in Thor change, and his work in Journey is as wondrously detailed as usual. The major improvement comes in the form of Ulises Arreola who lends more life to the panels than some of the putridity Braithwaite’s partners have in the past. Perhaps that’s why Doug never got a promotion from the position of Thor fill-in artist. If Journey stays, so should this team. Despite their darkness, the fables come off beamingly cinematic. The elder Loki’s frosty green aura meshes with the whole Fear theme, for sure.
So, looks like the good news is Gillen is a diamond in a rough: the type of fill-in comic writer who’s slowly becoming a star. With the way both this week’s Journey Into Mystery and new Uncanny X-Men come off, it won’t be long before everyone knows his name.
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