“Best of” Series: Journey Into Mystery
Astghik Cin Poghosyan ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Journey Into Mystery is an ongoing Marvel series that had first been published during 1952, and has had three revivals after it’s initial launch. The last re-launch took place during 2010, picked up by now acclaimed comic book writer, Kieron Gillen.
Unlike its predecessors, Gillen’s story arc revolves around the most infamous Marvel villain, Loki. It picks up right after Siege, in which Loki sacrifices himself in order to foil his own scheme of the destruction of Asgard. Thor, heartbroken by his brother’s loss, as villainous as he might have been, resurrects the trickster and there in starts a new journey for Loki, now known as Kid Loki, since his reincarnation was that of a child.
The story follows Kid Loki and his adventures with his companion and best friend, Leah of Hel. Loki as a character has been written down for decades by different authors, each presenting him in their own way yet keeping his core persona of being the god of chaos. Gillen took a character that had been shaped, sandpapered, filed down, smoothed, reshaped and molded it into something new. By taking away Kid Loki’s malice, the character presented a refreshing light-hearted nature of curious mischief that captures the reader’s attention right from the first chapter. Traveling with him is the literal devil on his shoulder: past Loki reincarnated into a Magpie called Ikol.
Gillen takes us through a journey of mischievous espionage orchestrated by the young trickster himself for the greater good of Asgard, commenting that if Thor was Avengers then Journey Into Mystery was Secret Avengers. Kid Loki’s new found good nature does nothing to extinguish the animosity of his fellow Asgardian’s towards him, since his past self has done them a great deal of harm. By writing Loki as a child, Gillen not only successfully portrays his child like mirth through his scheming, but also creates an empathetic atmosphere towards Thor, and his love towards his brother. Gillen remarked that how through Loki’s young age he was able to write his emotions closer to the surface, marking it as one of the biggest differences between Loki’s older self.
While most comic books have a similar pattern when it comes to storytelling, Gillen takes a new approach with both style and audience inclusion. Journey Into Mystery is a multilayered story about stories and through his narrative, and character interactions, Gillen puts an emphasis on the importance of stories, their significance and the prominence of their presentation. By breaking the fourth wall, Gillen addresses the audience about certain issues when it comes to writing for a large corporation as well as an infamous name.
In the last chapter of the series, it turns out that the old Loki was stringing Kid Loki all along in order for him to create a proper reputation for himself and appear as though he had changed, proceeding to take over Kid Loki’s body. When Kid Loki says that Loki has lost because he has not changed, Loki replies that he will. Kid Loki refutes this by saying “Of course you can’t, they won’t let you”. Since the book is very meta in its representation, ‘They’ could refer to anyone, but one of the areas it does touch is the corporation’s tendency to cling onto a franchise that brings in money.
Throughout the entire comic whenever Kid Loki tries to help, his peers make their skepticism towards his intentions obvious, saying that he can’t be trusted because he is Loki. Gillen’s genius plays out through this, because Loki’s infamous names carries out towards the readers and the attitude they have towards Kid Loki, questioning constantly if he is lying or being genuine. Through the utility of this, Gillen has the reader’s hook from the first turned page to the last.
Journey Into Mystery revolves around multiple themes such as feminism, political espionage, collateral damage throughout war as well as the permanency of death. One of Marvel’s most used techniques is the ‘Illusion of Change’ because of which any death that happens in the comic verse does nothing to move the reader, since the company is known for bringing the character’s back to life. Gillen counters this technique through unpredictable and simultaneously heart-wrenching ending making the title comic to stand out in its uniqueness.
Gillen himself said to Emertainment in a quote, “Journey Into Mystery is basically a pop-Sandman in the Marvel Universe. It’s this big, intricate fantasy epic staring a child-god who doesn’t throw a single punch in the whole thing. It’s about stories and lies, and whether someone can change and whether we’ll let them. It’s also the rarest thing in modern mainstream shared-universe comics – a story with a middle, beginning and an end. And the end is… really, quite the thing.”
Journey Into Mystery by Kieron Gillen is a remarkable Marvel gem that any comic book fanatic must add to their collection and enjoy. Through Gillen’s narrative genius and a team of talented artists, Marvel has presented one of the most successful and intriguing stories up to date.