I recently finished reading Marvel’s Loki: Agent of Asgard (writer Al Ewing, artist Lee Garbett) and let me tell you, it’s everything. Truthfully, I don’t know why I didn’t read it a long time ago (so many comics, so little time, am I right?) I mean, we get to see Lady Loki and we get to see Loki sing show tunes from Wicked. Loki has always been one of my favorite characters, and AoA made me love the God of Mischief even more. But it did more than that. It really showcased how profound his story is, and it delivered an empowering message about the ability we all have to be who and what we choose. We don’t have to be pigeonholed by the expectations of others.
Create the life you want
For most of the story, there are two versions of Loki with very different agendas. There’s the younger Loki, who’s determined to carry out tasks for the All-Mother in return for a clean slate. He wants to start over, and prove that he can be good. And there’s King Loki, an old, evil Loki from the future who’s set on bringing about his wicked future even sooner. At one point, Loki asks King Loki what happened (or will happen) to cause him to turn back to evil. King Loki replies that everything he did for the All-Mother, in the end, was for nothing because no one believed that he could be better. Even though he had genuinely changed, no one trusted him. Asgard still saw him as the God of Lies, so he basically decided to roll with it, because trying to change perceptions was futile.
But Loki refuses to accept this. He and his human friend Verity Willis (who should have her own book – make it happen, Marvel!) stick to their guns, believing that the future is not set in stone. And indeed, the ending reinforces the idea that our lives are what we make of them, a theme we see running throughout the story. Pretty much all of existence is destroyed and Loki and a ghost version of Verity are up against Those Who Sit Above in Shadow in a sort of limbo space. Loki suggests that maybe TWSAIS weren’t the ones who created the Asgardians, maybe the Asgardians’ fables about them actually brought them into reality – as the humans’ fables about the Norse gods may have birthed the Asgardians (and in turn, maybe Loki can use the stories of existence to re-create it — more on that later).
I loved this ending because it’s all about the idea that we really create our own reality. How we perceive the world is how the world is to us. And if we can shift our perceptions, everything can change. Loki perceives the world differently from King Loki, so his story could potentially have a happier ending. And of course, the same applies to all of us. The lens through which we view the world colors and shapes the decisions we make – and at the end of the day, it’s in our power to choose which lens we want to look through. And therefore, it’s also in our power to be the people we want to be, regardless of what anyone else thinks. After all, everyone else is viewing the world through their own lenses, and their prescriptions might be completely different from ours.
What’s more, Loki isn’t the only one dealing with being pigeonholed. At one point (which I’ll discuss more in a minute), Thor becomes unworthy. As you’d expect, he struggles to figure out who he is without his worthiness. Loki says to him, essentially, that his worthiness has been keeping him boxed in. Everyone has always seen him as the God of Thunder, and that became almost his whole identity. But Thor (who at this point is calling himself Odinson) is more than that. He’s a complete person with more to offer. It’s true that he may no longer fit other people’s idea of him, but that doesn’t mean he has nothing valuable to contribute.
Another important message from the story is the significance of being authentic. Due to events that happen in the Axis storyline (which I also recommend), heroes and villains switch places, including Loki and Thor. So Thor is now unworthy, and Loki, for a period, is a hero, able to wield Mjolnir. At first glance, this seems like exactly what Loki has wanted – a chance to finally be a true hero. But it’s not that simple. Because he now fancies himself a hero for the ages, he decides that it’s beneath him to concern himself with the goings-on of lowly Midgardians, and he ditches Verity, his one real friend. She later forgives him, but it’s an important lesson for him to learn.
The point here is that you can’t take shortcuts when it comes to personal growth. It has to be an authentic process. The magic that switched the heroes and villains didn’t really make Loki into the type of person he wanted to be. Only he can do that. The kind of heroism he had acquired wasn’t an authentic heroism because he hadn’t genuinely worked for it. But ultimately, he does work for it, and brings about yet another incarnation of himself.
At one point, Odin tells Loki that he shouldn’t strive to be worthy of Thor’s power, but instead, he should aim to be worthy of his own. I loved this line so much. All this time, Loki has wanted to be adored the way Thor is. But he’s not like Thor, nor will he ever be. Nothing good will ever come of Loki comparing his life to Thor’s. Instead, if he really wants to turn a new leaf, he should use his own unique strengths to do something positive in the world, and gain respect and acceptance that way. And it seems like he gets this in the end. There’s a beautiful moment where he kisses King Loki on the forehead, showing how much he as grown, and how he accepts himself now.
Similarly, when Asgard is mired in a fierce, final battle, Loki is given the opportunity to fight alongside the others (minus Thor) – like a real hero. Odin even calls him Thor’s “equal.” But he doesn’t do it. Instead, he makes sure to gather the stories that are essentially the remainders of existence for safe keeping. So when everything goes to hell, he’s the one who – given what he says about creating reality to Those Who Sit Above in Shadow – can presumably re-create existence, or at least some version of it. And he accomplishes this not by being a warrior like Thor, but by using his own strongest talents – creativity and quick thinking.
So all in all, this is a fantastic story that leaves the reader with a message that’s pretty inspiring. If we’re authentic and willing to do the legwork, we have it in our power to be who we want to be and to live the lives we see fit, regardless of the beliefs and biases of others.