There's a new Sorcerer Supreme keeping Earth safe from magical evils in the pages of Marvel Comics, and it makes for one heck of a twist. But is Loki really a hero, now?
Looking to rattle the status quo, the creative team of writer Donny Cates (Redneck), artist Gabriel Hernenadez Walta (The Vision) and colorist extraordinaire Jordan Bellaire made their debut in Doctor Strange #381, by giving Stephen Strange the boot and replacing him with Loki Laufeyson sporting the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme. Yep, that Loki.
How in in the realm of Asgard does that happen? According to Strange, Loki won a tournament, which earned him the Eye of Agamotto and direct access to the Sanctum Santorum. And that's pretty much all we're told about it. This bold direction is a surprise but the mere thought of that power and magic, the potential stories that can come out of it, makes it an intriguing spin. It’s also extremely irresponsible to just hand the keys to 177A Bleecker Street to Loki.
It’s vaguely explained as to who conducted the tournament and who else was in the running, so the details surrounding the transfer of the title is suspicious. So what is Strange going to be doing with his time now that he’s been forced to retire? Practicing the science of medicine once again, but as a veterinarian. If this doesn’t sound absurd already, he’s using his last remaining abilities of magic to speak to animals. Cue the Doctor DoLittle jokes.
Yet, everyone appears to be on board with this, including Strange, who looks calm and even Thor, who scoffs at Loki’s plea to want to do some good in the world and help people.
There are a lot of holes in Loki’s story and Strange’s, well, for the lack of a better word, strange and very agreeable behavior. As a pure set-up story, there is plenty of room to pan the camera back and see the truth leading to this situation, which will color our opinion of how Loki is handling his new job.
Unhappy with the order of magic in the universe, that the conjurer of magic must take a physical toll from its use, Loki tells the mystic beings of the cosmos that he will pay a price for the magic used in the realm. He’s trying to rewrite the rules of magic to his own gain and to gain access to the one area of the Santorum that remains forbidden to him.
He does indeed have his skeptics, Scarlet Witch being perhaps the biggest. The mutant Avenger whose solo series was about fixing the state of magic is not happy with the fact that Loki of all people, a villain she has repeatedly helped defeat is wielding that much power and responsibility. Loki's reputation precedes him and that's what makes him a wild candidate to begin with.
It also begs the question of if this story was influenced by what happened in the MCU film, Thor: Ragnarok, when Thor and Loki come back to Earth in search of Odin. The interaction between Strange, Thor and Loki is a screen combo that worked well, and should be revisited in the future. It's a story that could be used as source material for a Doctor Strange sequel or, a Thor sequel.
There’s a lot of designed abbreviated exposition in this issue and considering that Loki is the protagonist now, we have a lead character that we cannot trust. This is just the first issue of a much larger arc and it definitely slows down the pace from Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo’s wild and imaginative run. If we're going to see Loki have this great power, though, let's really see him do some mischief of great proportion. But if he's up to no good, then he has to do good things too, if for no other reason than to throw off the scent of deception. At the very least it will be an interesting series to watch heading into 2018 and Scarlet Witch as a supporting character has us intrigued.
Are you piqued by Loki’s surprise appointment as Sorcerer Supreme? What do you think of Donny Cates and Gabriel Walta's first issue? Do you have your theories as to what Loki’s motives are for changing the rules of magic use and what Strange kept him from accessing?