The debut of Marvel Studios‘ Loki, one of Marvel’s most highly-anticipated series on Disney+ to date, is almost here and for fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, getting to see an expanded take on Tom Hiddleston’s Loki is something very much worth looking forward to. The series is set to offer fans more of the beloved God of Mischief, but with the added twist of the chaos of continuity. After all, the events of Avengers: Infinity War saw Loki’s demise and Avengers: Endgame saw a past version of Loki make off with the Tesseract, and now the timeline’s continuity is going to play into the events in a major way. The series will also offer an opportunity to dig into Loki as a character in ways the MCU hasn’t yet done, which makes it a perfect time to get reacquainted with the character and his comic book background.
Loki, as the character fans know and love, first debuted in Marvel Comics in Journey Into Mystery #85 from October 1962 as created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, and Jack Kirby. The “character fans know and love” distinction is important to note because Loki has an interesting history in comics. The character, as a mythical figure, actually predates the version in Marvel Comics with an appearance in Timely Comics’ publication, Venus #6 from August 1949. In that appearance, Loki was a member of the Olympian gods exiled to the Underworld. In the Journey into Mystery appearance, Loki was introduced not as an Olympian god, but as one of Thor‘s arch-nemeses.
Over the years, Loki has remained one of Thor’s main nemeses, but his story has fleshed out to where the character is more than just an antagonist. The son of the king of the Frost Giants, Laufey, Loki was smaller than the other Frost Giants, something that prompted Laufey to keep him hidden from the others. When Odin found the child Loki leading the Asgardians into battle against the Frost Giants and killing Laufey, the King of Asgard took him in and raised him alongside his biological son, Thor.
Growing up, Loki was different from Thor and the people of Asgard treated the two boys accordingly. While Thor was large and strong, Loki was smaller and weaker, making up for what he lacked in those areas with his skills as a sorcerer. Resentful of things, Loki leaned into his talent for mischief as an adult, and eventually, that fed into a need for power with his schemes frequently turned toward Odin and Asgard, though he also turned his attention to Earth as well, bringing him into clashes with Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, the Avengers which Loki inadvertently helped create as a team when he manipulated the Hulk in an attempt to lure Thor to Earth in Avengers #1 (September 1963).
While comics have countless stories of Loki as an antagonist, the character overall is one with a lot more complexity and nuance, particularly in the modern era. In the Seige storyline, Loki initially manipulates Norman Osborn into leading an all-out assault on Asgard (which, at that time, was located within the United States), but ends up repenting as the Void battles the Avengers. Loki begs Odin to let him use the Norn Stones to give the heroes a power boost that will give them the strength to win, but when the Void realizes the enhanced power is coming from Loki, the Void kills him and it’s Loki’s sacrifice that spurs the others on to victory (Siege #4).
That incident also leads to the resurrection of Loki as Kid Loki. Kid Loki ends up joining the Young Avengers in 2013, though there is an internal conflict for Loki over his various selfish and nefarious actions across his history. It’s that conflict that leads into a storyline that has been widely theorized will be a major influence on the upcoming Disney+ series: Loki: Agent of Asgard. The 17-issue series written by Al Ewing sees Loki tasked by the All-Mother to protect Midgard and for each task he performs for her, one of his past crimes and wrongdoings is wiped out of existence. What’s notable about this series is that it sees Loki deal with an alternate future version of himself, the villainous King Loki.
While it’s not an exact match to what we’ve seen teased thus for of the Loki Disney+ series, the idea of Loki having to work to set things right feels (in this case with the Time Variance Authority involved as Loki has to clean up the mishaps caused by his use of the Time Stone) like something that will have great storytelling potential in the live-action series.
With a rich and complicated comics history that sees the character in nearly every imaginable light from villain to hero to self-centered schemer to selfless brother — and not to mention various forms like Kid Loki, Lady Loki, and more — it will be interesting to see exactly where Loki takes everyone’s favorite trickster next. But one thing is for sure, Loki is a character that will keep fans on his toes, both on the page and on the screen.
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