After a confusing series of deaths, reincarnations, and redesigns, Marvel’s Loki is now starring in his own solo series: Loki: Agent of Asgard, and interestingly, the ill-gotten body he’s inhabiting these days happens to be late adolescent and devastatingly attractive.
In what seems to be an unapologetic attempt to cash in on Tom Hiddleston’s glorious face, the pert-nosed, bright-eyed, twelve-year-old Loki of Kieron Gillen’s Journey into Mystery has been overtaken by the shadow of his old self, and has grown into quite the swarthy, chiseled specimen to boot. Though Loki has never before been deliberately framed as an object of attraction in the comics, it’s no secret that Hiddleston’s portrayal of Loki in the Thor and Avengers films has earned him an overwhelmingly female fandom.
Marvel, it seems, is more than happy to give the people what they want, and in a laudable attempt at embracing diversity, Agent of Asgard writer Al Ewing has officially stated that Loki is canonically bisexual and “will shift between genders occasionally”. If this can be taken to mean that Loki is actually gender fluid (as opposed to, say, using female form simply for deceit, which he has done before) he is the first significant Marvel character to identify as such.
Unfortunately, Marvel does have a history of floundering in their attempts to write male protagonists for a female audience. A solo series starring Wolverine’s son Daken as a sexy, edgy anti-hero crashed pretty hard when readers realized that its only hook was “debauched bisexual quotes Nietzsche, hates father, and is occasionally shirtless”. Ewing and Garbett are now tasked with maintaining interest in a series that could very easily dissolve into “debauched bisexual quotes lolcats, hated father, and is occasionally shirtless”.
The question, of course, is: are they succeeding? Are Ewing and artist Lee Garbett (two straight men; an interesting choice, in my opinion) giving readers what they want and deserve in a female-targeted nontraditional comic, or have they set out with good intentions only to miss the mark entirely?