Eric M. Esquivel shows sympathy for the devil in ‘Loki: Ragnarok and Roll’

(BOOM! Studios)

Norse mythology was hardly the romanticized collection of legends that Smilin’ Stan Lee would have us believe. However, it’s a generally accepted premise that Loki is the scheming villain of the sagas, Thor, a paragon of heroic virtue, and Odin is a benevolent father who loves his sons equally. Popular culture also accepts the overlooked fact that Norse culture rested on a foundation of plunder, amoral deceit and as writer Eric Esquivel describes Thor’s sphere of influence, a healthy respect for blunt force trauma.

Loki: Ragnarok and Roll  from Boom Studios offers an apology for the devil. The schemer, Loki,  schemes for his own survival when his deceitful older brother, Thor, drops him in it. Of course, Odin immediately sides with Thor, claiming Loki to be the more… disposable of the two. Is there any reason why Loki should prove to be less than he is, given the circumstances?

There’s a lot to be said for this comic.

First, it’s a more realistic and grittier representation of the Norse Pantheon than the one that has been popularized in Marvel’s Thor and the MCU films. Second, it taps into the true violent nature of the Viking culture where decisions were made with swords instead of words. Finally, it not only provides you with a suggested soundtrack to read the comic by, but it also serves up a delicious slice of sardonic humour on the side.

(BOOM! Studios)
(BOOM! Studios)

The humour really stands out in this story. The comical portrayal of Thor as a blundering and narcissistic thug provides an excellent counter to Loki the trickster and reluctant rebel. His sense of abandonment in his banishment forces character development as he discovers his new purpose to thwart Asgard by driving humanity to rediscover itself in the absence of all gods. Simultaneously, this allows Loki to experience a greater sense of success in over 12,000 years – unlike his Marvel counterpart.

Loki is still a trickster… as a member of the new rock band he establishes, but his trickery is far more direct and blunt than the devious machinations of the Norse sagas. By issue #2, Loki’s banishment to Midgard proves to backfire on Odin as his son gains a following through his musical performances and his flagrant claims of godhood – but a god who demands that humanity rebel and deny gods – much like he is doing. However, this proves to be a violation of the practices of an alliance of the current pantheons, and then the chaos really begins to ensue.

If you get the chance, pick up Loki: Ragnarok and Roll.  It’s a different perspective of the Norse Gods with a more down-to-earth attitude. You can laugh at these gods instead of having their nobility and heroism rammed down your throat. It may feature gleaming halls of Asgard as its primary milieu and be based in a rock auditorium, but at least we can believe it.

About Captain John K. Kirk

Captain John K. Kirk
John Kirk is an English and History teacher and librarian in Toronto, Canada. In addition to the traditional curriculum, John tries to teach his students to make sense of geek culture. And with the name "J. Kirk," it's hard for him to not inject "Star Trek" into his lessons. Comics, RPGs and the usual fanboy gear make up his classroom resources.