Loki: Ragnarok and Roll #1

It’s logically been Marvel Comics that’s benefitted from the recent popularity of Thor in both the movies as well as its own comics, but because their own character is actually based on a mythological figure, the gates of Asgard are open to anyone wanting to craft their own unique incarnation of the God of Thunder and his kin. BOOM! Studios has done exactly that with “Loki: Ragnarok and Roll” #1 by Eric M. Esquivel and Jerry Gaylord, and as one might imagine from the title alone — if not Alexis Ziritt’s colorful, counter-culture-esque cover — Thor’s half-brother Loki goes through the transformation from God of Mischief to rock god.

Thor is there too, of course, ever the bold and boisterous warrior, but one with a far more cartoonish kind of buffoonery as comedically rendered by Esquivel and Gaylord. Gaylord amps up the laughs by putting Thor on the steroids of the gods; his most amazing feat when not in battle might just be simply fitting his impossibly barrel-chested self through Asgard’s doorways. Odin plays a large role as well, but upends familiar belief by exiling Loki to Earth, instead of Thor, beginning Loki’s transformation into a being seeking worship in a totally different way.

The first half of the issue sets up the status quo between Odin and his two sons, the second explores Loki’s re-discovery of our world in the modern day, and Esquivel makes both halves light and entertaining. He doesn’t take his concept too seriously, but he’s not aloof with it, either. He carefully sets the tone with a delicate kind of tongue-in-cheek reverence; he’s not afraid to poke fun at his own characters, put he puts enough personality in them to make them serious enough to be legitimately interesting, instead of one-dimensional parodies. He also makes good use of further twisting the outcome of Loki’s banishment; where it was intended to be a punishment, he instead revels in it, seeing opportunity to get the kind of respect he never got back home. With only a few tweaks to the character’s nature, Loki looks as natural as Dave Mustaine or Slash with an electric guitar strapped over his shoulder, or at least seems like he will be once he cuts loose.

Gaylord gets to cut loose himself, whether the scene is the great hall of Asgard, the icy fields of Jötenheimr, or a seedy Hollywood metal bar. His backgrounds are sparse, but this is mostly due to him filling the foregrounds with all sorts of more cartoonish characters, ranging from unfamiliar-looking deities to anarchy-worshipping Satanists. Colorist Gabriel Cassata mostly keeps things sedate, but pulls out the brights and pastels when needed, like when Loki makes his unwilling journey down the Bifröst bridge, or during one of Odin’s big interstellar parties.

“Loki: Ragnarok and Roll” #1 is the first part of a four issue series, and a strong one it is. It’s fun to see a different, lighter take on Norse mythology than most comics fans have gotten used to, and with a different twist thrown in to make it truly unique.

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