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Roundtable Review: ‘Siege: Loki’ #1 by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie

ComicsAlliance writers Laura Hudson, Chris Sims, Caleb Goellner, and David Uzumeri sit down for a roundtable discussion about the newly released “Siege: Loki” #1. WARNING: SPOILERS FOLLOW.

David: This week we’re taking a look at “Siege: Loki,” one of five one-shots Marvel’s putting out to make up for Siege #4′s delay into May. It’s by the Team Phonogram of Kieron Gillen and artist Jamie McKelvie, and largely takes place between the pages of both Bendis’s main “Siege” series and Gillen’s “Thor” tie-in issues.

Chris Sims: Here’s my version of the recap: Loki, Gillen and McKelvie are all super-awesome. Therefore, we have this comic, where they all get awesome together.

David: In any case, I liked this a lot — McKelvie’s awesome at drawing smarmy assholes, and Loki is basically the Platonic idea of smarmy assholes.

Chris Sims: Oh man, isn’t he? I love this kind of David Bowie androgyny that he gave to Loki. The soft features and the painted nails and everything. It’s great.

Laura: That should be on Jamie’s business card: Pretty girls and smarmy assholes.David: And Gillen — I have to give him credit here, this managed to be a really fun one-shot while ALSO tying together a bunch of loose continuity threads.

Chris Sims: Dr. Doom usually gets all the credit, but Loki really is one of the best villains in Marvel Comics. He’s just so sneeringly cerebral. In fact — oh man. I just got it. Loki’s totally Marvel’s Joker. He’s completely not a match for his arch-enemy physically, but he’s always got these plans that run circles around everyone because it amuses him to do so.

David: Well, he’s totally Marvel’s Grant Morrison’s Joker.

Chris Sims: And Christopher Nolan’s. Which makes Thor Marvel’s Batman, which is something I am totally comfortable with.

David: For reference: we already saw the conversation between Doom and Loki from Doom’s perspective in “Thor” #606, right before “Siege.” The basic context was that that the Asgardians were living in Latveria before they all realized — surprise surprise! — that Doom is a lying prick.

Chris Sims: Loki set up this whole thing where Dr. Doom got a bunch of Asgardians to experiment on, basically making Frankensteins out of Gods.

David: Loki, of course, had been the one to go “Hey, guys, why don’t we go hang out with with Doctor Doom? Vic’s a chill guy.”

Chris Sims: (which was awesome)

David: But then they found out about what were basically Deathlok Asgardians, and then Thor showed up and beat the crap out of Doom, and now everyone’s back in Broxton/Asgard. So this is basically Doom and Loki ending their little plan.

Laura: Why does Loki seem pissy? It seems like he got to mess stuff up and piss everyone off. Sounds like a Loki victory.

Chris Sims: It is, but Loki’s tired of Being Loki. The Norse gods are slaves to their own destinies. Like, they know from the beginning how they’re all going to die in Ragnarok. The way I see it, Loki’s just straight tired of doing what he does because he has to, because it’s his “role” to be the guy who makes trouble for everyone. He loves it, but you can get tired of something you love if it’s your job. Like, say, talking about comics all day.

Laura: So basically, he’s sick of being Loki, the God who constantly does tricksy underhanded crap, so he deals with that by doing some tricksy underhanded crap?

Chris Sims: Do I need to recount the fable of the scorpion and the frog, Laura? Or better yet, the fable of Speed Racer? “You think you can drive a car and change the world?” “I gotta do something, and it’s the only thing I know how to do.” Loki’s not tired of doing sneaky underhanded crap, he’s tired of doing it because he has to, not because he wants to. Which comes up later in his conversation with Mephisto.

.

Chris Sims: Oh man, can I just say this? The last panel in that sequence, where Loki mugs to the camera? That is basically the best thing. If you’re telling me you can read that panel and not hear Yello’s “Oh Yeah,” then you’re a liar.

David: Jamie McKelvie totally nailed this issue, no question. It amazes me how much Marvel’s new crop of guys straight from the indies have taken like fish to water in corporate continuity. While the “Phonogram” fan in me is sad that I won’t get a third series in the foreseeable future, the superhero nerd in me is ecstatic to see these guys doing ALL MY FAVORITES.

Chris Sims: I know right? I loved “Phonogram,” but if you’d told me a couple years ago that the guy who wrote that would be awesome on Thor and Beta Ray Bill, I’m not sure I would’ve believed it. And yet, here we are.

Caleb: It’s still magic and hipsters. Just hipsters from Asgard.

Laura: Oh these two and their cocky magical douchebags.

Chris Sims: You and I are going to have a conversation about you calling Beta Ray Bill a hipster later, Caleb.

David: By the way, the scene with Loki tormenting Osborn was originally in “Siege: The Cabal,” but presented as Osborn’s Goblin personality saying Loki’s dialogue.

Laura: The whispering in Osborn’s ear is great. I like how Loki genuinely does some evil stuff here, rather than just getting reduced to a mischievous scamp.

David: Loki is a complete dick. He’s taking advantage of an unstable paranoid schizophrenic. Like, after this, I really feel almost bad for Osborn. He was totally set up to lose. He thought he had all the power in the world, but all along he was really just a plaything for gods.

Chris Sims: Yeah, Loki’s a real bastard, but there’s a real Miltonian Satan vibe to him that’s almost explicitly brought up later in how he wants his freedom from his destiny. But Before we get there, can we talk about Loki fighting the Disir for a second? Because I loved that.

David: Yeah, other things I never expected: that McKelvie would be such a great fight choreographer. I guess it makes sense, since half of “Phonogram” was dancing.

Chris Sims: I said before that Loki’s just totally physically dominated by Thor — the last thing Walt Simonson does in his run is have Thor break Loki’s arm with this tiny flick of his wrist — but this scene really puts that into context. Of COURSE Loki’s weak compared to Thor; HE’S THOR. But Loki’s still a Norse God (and a Half-Giant), so he’s still a total badass. Dude throwing off his cloak and standing there with a weapon in each hand ready to throw down is just not something we see too often, and it’s great here. It’s a great reminder that he’s a tough customer.

David: Honestly, I want a Loki/Mephisto/Nightmare team book by these guys now. The theme song can be Ludacris’s “How Low.”

Caleb: Loki totally marries the Disir. And speaking as a newlywed, that is some serious business.

Chris Sims: Loki taking the crown and making it a ring is such an awesome little mythological moment. “Oh this ring? It’s actually a crown that used to belong to one of my slaves who are my adopted grandfather who created the universe’s old ladies. No big.”

Caleb: The guy is pimping his wives. It’s like something out of Daddy Cool.

Chris Sims: I’m going to go ahead and say that out of a $3.99 cover price, you’re paying at least $2.46 to see Mephisto’s sideburns, and that’s a bargain, folks.

Caleb: “One More Day” would have been 5 pages long with those chops. “Okay, so my aunt’s dying and…Whollopin’ Websnappers! Those ‘burns! Take my wife!” And fans would have understood.

Chris Sims: I would pay good money for a Hipsterphisto mini-series where Mephisto travels the underworld in search of product to tame his hell-spawned hair.

Laura: Where do you think Mephisto keeps his jar of sadness from ruining Peter and MJ’s most beautiful love in the universe?

David: Under the bed.

Caleb: Next to his pomade.

David: Somewhere next to the bong and the bottle of Jack.

Caleb: No, the contents of the jar ARE his pomade. Mephisto tames his mane with sadness.

Chris Sims: Joking aside, the interplay between Mephisto and Loki is just fantastic. Not just from the writing, but from how expressive McKelvie gets with their faces.

Caleb: They look like two dicks shooting the shit. Like two guitarists from rival bands. It’s perfect.

Laura: Yeah, I love the doucheraderie.

Chris Sims: Also, I love that Gillen’s making the comparison here between Loki and Mephisto, not Mephisto and Hela. It’s not about ruling the underworld here and dealing with damned souls, it’s about being manipulative and evil and causing trouble for everyone and reveling in their suffering.

David: It’s like one of those episodes of “The Sopranos” where Tony sits down to shoot the shit with another mob boss. And there’s that undercurrent of “is one of them gonna whack the other?” but on the surface the scene is pure smoothness. Mephisto’s bored face in the “very well” panel is a masterpiece.

Chris Sims: Yeah, he’s totally feigning boredom, but he really wants to see where this is going. Two masters of their craft. And their craft is being a-holes.

Laura: They’re both all about using people, and messing up their lives, and doing it in grand and elaborate ways. Showing off. They’re basically gods killing time by doing awesome tricks for each other in the half-pipe of evil.

David: Honestly, One More Day makes infinitely more sense in this. Because I can just see Mephisto calling up Loki five minutes later. And going “LOOK WHAT I GOT? LOOK WHAT I GOT?!?!?”

Chris Sims: Since we’ve seen McKelvie draw smarmy a-holes, now it’s time to see him draw pretty girls.

Caleb: I like how Hela was straight up chillin in a hotel with her magical underworld dress just waiting on a coat rack. Like, “Oh, cool, a Hell party. Let me just put this on. New? Yeah, I suppose it is!”

Chris Sims: I’ve criticized artists before for drawing characters standing around in poses, but I love Hela’s hands-on-hips pouty face. I think it’s great BECAUSE she’s striking a pose. We’ve seen her just chilling out in bed, and now she’s getting her groove (or underworld) back, so she’s totally going theatrical with it. It’s scenery-chewing on purpose, you know?

Caleb: Has Lady Gaga dressed like Hela? She should.

Chris Sims: I love the end of this book too, with more Mephisto-Loki stuff. Each one obviously looks like they got a WAY better end of the deal. And then Loki basically just drops the mic. It’s so well done on every level, from dialogue on down to the facial expressions. Just textbook fantastic comics.

David: I love this take on Loki — it reminds me a lot of Mxyzptlk in “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow.” You know — that scene where he talks about how he tried being good for a million years, then mischief, and now he’s going for evil just because he’s so damn BORED.

Chris Sims: That’s one of the things about Marvel Loki: He’s always been written as the God of Evil, rather than of Mischief, and this is one of the first times where he’s actually living up to it. I mean, he does some sinister stuff in this. He literally tortures souls.

David: It’s escalating beautifully. I have to wonder where he’s going to go from this. I hate to say it, but I really don’t think Fraction will be able to match this take. Gillen GETS Loki, like he got Doom, in a way I haven’t read — hell, since I got back into comics, honestly.

Chris Sims: That’s a bold statement.

Laura: Damn. If you’re not sure whether Matt Fraction can keep up, you’re talking about some serious A-game.

Chris Sims: Fraction has the love, though. He’s all about the Walt Simonson run, which has some of the best Loki moments ever. But yeah, Gillen straight nails it.

David: Oh, I think Fraction will do really well with the cosmic stuff — Gillen definitely went for the medieval take, but I’m excited to see Thor just taking on rogue ur-gods and celestial death. This was a great book. I’m glad it was as good as I thought it might be.

Laura: Standing ovation.

Chris Sims: Yeah, I want these guys to do more. I want Gillen/McKelvie “Avengers.” Gillen/McKelvie “X-Men.” Gillen/McKelvie “Spider-Man.”

David: Oh hell, their Spider-Man would be amazing. Like, for once, the youth culture would feel like youth culture. But at the same time, they’d be able to overlay everything with these mythical layers of meaning.

Chris Sims: Especially since Spider-Man’s the heroic version of the Smarmy A-Hole.

David: Can we say ComicsAlliance votes for a Gillen/McKelvie arc on “Amazing Spider-Man”?

Caleb: Yes.

Laura: Yes.

Chris Sims: Yes.

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