Thursday, November 18, 2021




Marvel recently published Loki Omnibus Vol. 1 [$125]. I’m currently reading the 1000-page tome. First impression: Marvel’s omnibus game beats DC’s by a hefty margin.

When first introduced, Loki was a cool but pretty straightforward adversary for Thor. The hero was the god of thunder; Loki was the god of mischief and sometimes the god of evil. They were brothers from other mothers and fathers. Loki could be ruthlessly murderous  and that’s how they were originally and charmingly portrayed in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

I wasn’t keeping any kind of Loki timeline - my aged mind can only hold so much information at a time - but it seems to me that, just as the amazing Tom Hiddleston was bringing new dimensions to Loki in the Marvel movies, the Marvel comics were presenting a bunch of new aspects to Loki. We got Loki as a smoking hot woman. We got Kid Loki. We got political candidate Loki. We even got Loki, Agent of Asgard. What had been an interesting but typical super-villain was evolving in exciting ways.

However, the stories I’m reading in the Loki Omnibus do not feature that evolving Loki. They take you from his earliest appearances in the comics from 1962 to 1970. Loki is the straightforward villain in these tales, but still a wonderful character and cunning foe for Thor and other Marvel heroes.

Let’s take a look at however many of those stories I can discuss in the first installment of this bloggy thing series...   



Journey Into Mystery #85 [October 1962] introduced Loki in a tale titled “Trapped by Loki, the God of Mischief!” by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers. Unless you want to count when Loki hypnotizes
Thor as trapping the God of Thunder, or when he turns three humans into negative versions of themselves, no one is actually trapped by Loki. Even so, “God of Mischief” does seem a little off the mark as Loki does nearly kill some other humans.

The story opens with Loki stuck in a tree which has been his prison  for centuries. By Odin’s decree, and this solidifies my long-head position that Odin is a massive dick, Loki will remain in the tree until his plight makes someone shed a tear. Controlling the tree, Loki makes a leaf falls into Heimdall’s eye and cause the Rainbow Bridge guardian to shed a tear. Loki is free and, with Heimdall off looking for some Visine, Loki skips along the Bridge to Earth and his planned vengeance on Thor.

One might think centuries of captivity would have allowed Loki to devise a terrific plan, but, basically, all he does is vex Thor for the remainder of the tale’s thirteen pages. Thor dumps Loki into a pool of water, apparently Loki’s never-since-seen weakness is that his magic doesn’t work in water. Thor ties his step-brother to his hammer and flings him back to Asgard.

This first comic-book meeting between Thor and Loki doesn’t really speak to Loki’s glorious purpose, but it’s a fun little adventure. This is also the first time Nurse Jane Foster’s gets a glimpse of  Thor and see likes what she sees. The expression on Doc Don Blake’s face makes me think he’s not thrilled with Jane’s attraction to his other identity.


Just three short months later, in Journey Into Mystery #88 [January 1963], Loki is back in “The Vengeance of Loki” by Stan Lee (plot), Larry Lieber (script), Jack Kirby (art) and Dick Ayers (inking). Even if publisher Martin Goodman got some early numbers on Loki’s first appearance, I doubt they would have been come soon enough to influence the creation of this rematch. More likely: Stan and Jack recognized Loki was the perfect arch-enemy for Thor. Both of them “gods.” They were step-brothers with daddy Odin clearly preferring Thor. Even the splash page refers to Loki as the “most dangerous of the Norse gods.”

Odin decrees Loki must forever remain in Asgard, which, of course, the God of Mischief sees as more of a suggestion. Via magic, Loki discovers Thor is also Don Blake and that, if separated from his hammer, transforms back into the frail doctor. Back on Earth, Loki forces Thor to choose between saving Jane Foster or letting the 60-second time limit expire. Before Blake can get back to the hammer,
Loki surrounds it with an impenetrable force field.

Loki is more about mischief than evil in this story. He proceeds to make sport with the humans. He temporarily turns several of them into blank beings, restores them minutes later, and turns buildings and vehicles into candy and ice cream. Rereading this story for the first time in several decades, I laughed out loud when a distraught driver cries out that the sun is melting his convertible.

Loki turns a Russian nuclear bomb into a dud. When confronted by a group of American soldiers, he gives wings to the weapons and sends them flying away. As Blake, Thor realizes Loki is only toying with mankind, but justifiably fears his step-brother’s pranks will grow more serious and more dangerous.

Blake turns the tables on Loki by tricking him, by way of a plastic statue, into thinking Thor has regained his hammer. When Loki drops the force field to see what’s up, it’s hammer time for the doctor.
Despite Loki’s uncanny ability to turn into a pigeon, Thor captures him and brings him back to Asgard. Odin is concerned:

“As for Loki, I know not what to do with him! He grows more wily, more dangerous, more uncontrollable each hour! We must pray that the world will never see the day when his power exceeds that of the mighty Thor!”

Who do Norse gods pray to? Asking for a friend.



What with Thor kicking his ass twice, at least to the extent that the Comics Code allowed ass-kicking back then, Loki changed up his quest for vengeance against the Thunder God. Imprisoned on Asgard, Loki increases the meager mental powers of a carnival performer to a godlike level, knowing the performer will use his greater powers for evil and attract the attention of Thor. This is the first time, but far from the last time, that Loki will enlist surrogates in his  ongoing war with his step-brother.

“Sandu, Master of the Supernatural” [Journey Into Mystery #91; April, 1963] was plotted by Stan Lee, scripted by Larry Lieber and drawn by Joe Sinnott. The most notable difference between Sinnott’s and co-creator Jack Kirby’s depiction of Thor was that Sinnott drew Thor’s hammer with a much longer handle.

The story’s deus ex machina ending is telegraphed in its first two panels. Odin contemplates Thor’s belt of strength that can increase his son’s already awesome might. When Sandu chains Thor and buries him under a building, beautiful valkyries float down through said building to reunite the Odinson with his belt. I’ve gotten ahead of myself, so let’s backtrack.

Loki proves himself an astute judge of character as Sandu’s great power does lead him to great acts of thievery and terror. Perhaps because Thor is unconsciously holding back against this mortal foe, Sandu cleans Thor’s the extent the Comics Code allowed clock-cleaning. Enter the gorgeous gals of Valhalla, looking much different from their warrior sisters of more recent comics.

Back in the fray, Thor hurls his hammer at Sandu. But the villain separates Thor from his weapon by transporting himself and hammer  to a different dimension. In these early days of the series, Thor reverts back to Doctor Don Blake if he is apart from his hammer for more than sixty seconds. From distant Asgard, Loki starts gloating. He will be disappointed.

Sandu may have separated Thor from his hammer, but he still isn’t worthy enough to lift it. Straining his powers trying to lift the hammer, Sandu short circuits them. His powers are gone. Hammer and villain return to our world just before the fateful sixty seconds have passed.

Sandu goes to prison. Thor goes to Asgard to give the belt back to Odin for safekeeping. In a remote part of Asgard, Loki curses the brainless mortal who failed him. Not that this defeat will prevent Loki from empowering other surrogates in the future.

We’re not even fifty pages into Loki Omnibus Vol. 1 at this point, so I’ll return to further explore the god of evil and/or mischief’s glorious purpose in the near future. Watch for it.

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2021 Tony Isabella

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