I didn’t hate JiM’s ending. It was shocking and powerful, and deeply tragic in a bone chilling way. Those visceral panels of Kid Loki claiming victory as he fucking swallow that magpie give me fucking goosebumps. I love that sense of utterly pyrrhic, bitterest victory. That kid Loki’s only reason to claim it here is that Old Loki lost, that he’s showing by his own actions as he destroys kid Loki that he can’t change, whereas kid Loki did, and was, for a while. And that now even if he did change, it would still be kid Loki’s victory, kid Loki’s effect. There’s a defiance, a stubbornness not to bow even as one gets twisted and wasted, and a fierce, desperate joy in being that sings to my very soul.
So it isn’t even that I didn’t like it, not even for Old Loki’s sake - whom I love and whom I could almost hate for it, for betraying himself when I could never hate him for betraying anyone else.
But when I read Kieron Gillen saying:
I’ve said before that, societally speaking, I’m part of a culture that enjoys telling stories about self-determination. If Journey Into Mystery was a film, some small part of you would presume that the reincarnated form of the wicked god would find a way to change his ways. But this is western mainstream company-owned comics, and when the wicked god is the antagonist in the third biggest film of all times, there’s a different sort of pressure. Not that anyone ever told me I had to. You just knew. We all knew. Generally speaking, bar the blessed innocents, people presumed he’ll fail. And the absolute dread of that looming on the horizon is one of the things which gave it power.
Of the book’s tricks, that it convinced people that Loki really could change probably is the foremost.
But he couldn’t.
I knew that if I ended the story with Kid Loki proved that he could change forever, it’d be beautiful. We’d cheer for that. I wish I could have left him running free over those green hills with Leah. But at some point down the line, someone would perform a heel turn. It could be a decade. It would more likely be weeks. At that point, the story’s point is inverted.
Suddenly our hymn to triumphing against expectations because a cynical “Of course Kid Loki couldn’t change”. He was always going to turn evil. We’d have told a story that some people are just bad ‘uns.
I’d be damned if I was going to be any part of that story.
I hate it. And, mind, it is true. We all were expecting Kid Loki’s failure. We all were dreading it.
One of the main trick of the series actually rests on the meta-ness still. Because we knew that Young Avengers was coming with Kid Loki as part of the cast, for a while, we were optimistic about Journey into Mystery’s ending and actually looking forward not having the status quo reset as usual. At least not yet. And a little yet is all that comics fans have come to hope for.
And yes, I can see how accepting to go with that logic is the most cynical of story, and one which I would hate reading. (I hated reading it with X-Men, when the topic is even more complicated and ambiguous).
But basically by saying that Marvel comics, much like Old Loki, cannot change, could never change, because the writers or the editors or the audience or the movie producers won’t let it change - it is just as cynical. It’s an outlook about the shape of the industry, and about the capacity of stories - of good stories - to affect it, that is deeply pessimistic and fatalist.
Probably not wrongly cynical, but it is still a refusal to hope, a refusal to try, because it would be doomed to fail. It’s still bowing to fate, just setting the terms on one’s own.
If, Kieron Gillen had had faith in the story, in its power, then regardless of the eventual outcome; it would have stood for itself. For a while, yes, but for a while is all that any of us can ever hope for.
Instead he killed it, to use it for something else.
Old Loki lost, Kid Loki won, and Kieron Gillen lost too.
"There is happiness for those who accept their fate. There is glory for those who defy their fate."