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Comic Book / Journey into Mystery (Gillen)

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"You are not as wicked as they think."
"I'd have to try terribly hard to be that terrible.
— Conversation between Thor and Kid Loki

A 2011 "revival" of Marvel Comics's Journey into Mystery line by Kieron Gillen, who had previously written for The Mighty Thor. It began in 2011 and ran for 23 issues.

Fear Itself looms across the Marvel Universe, and the fate of the universe seems to lie in Thor's trickster brother Loki, reincarnated into a child ("Kid Loki") following the events of Siege, himself wrestling with his own morality and destiny.

After issue 645, the focus of the book shifted to the other Asgardians — for tropes in this run, see Journey into Mystery (Immonen). Kid Loki's story continued in Young Avengers's second volume, also written by Gillen.


  • Admiring the Abomination: When Loki releases Surtur, he makes sure to take a photo of him with his Starkphone.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Leah makes no secret of her attraction to Daimon. Her reasoning is that everyone likes a bad boy.
    • It includes Hel-Puppies too!
    Kid Loki: I'm a bad boy!
    Leah: Not actual boys.
  • Always Save the Girl: Surprisingly, Loki actually plays this trope straight for Leah. Well, for Leah, at least
  • Almost Kiss: Kid Loki and Leah have one near the end of Everything Burns, as they're both about to be violently killed by Surtur. They get interrupted by Thor and his army, complete with a lampshade from Loki about how perfect the timing was. Sadly, it's one of the last moments Leah and Loki have together before everything turns to shit, which would have made this both their First Kiss and Last Kiss, had they actually been allowed to do it. While it's obvious they care deeply for each other, this Almost Kiss is the closest they get to expressing it.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Loki and Leah have a bit of this dynamic
  • Big Bad: First arc of Kid Loki's run starts with Serpent and sets up Surtur and Mephisto for rest of the story. Turns out they all were pawns of Old Loki.
  • Book Ends: Kid Loki's arc of the series begins and ends with a confrontation between old Loki and young Loki in the space hidden in the dot of the question mark.
    • Also, the covers of Journey Into Mystery 623 and Journey Into Mystery 645 (the second and last issues of the run) are inversions of one another.
    • Journey Into Mystery 622 starts with the line, "In the end, many of the answers ended up being 'Loki'." Journey Into Mystery 645 starts with the same phrase, only "the end" is replaced with "the beginning".
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: At one point, Loki grabs the narration boxes and tears them up but this is actually a subversion, as later it's revealed that the narrator of the story is an actual character in-story.
    • Loki also directly addresses the audience a few times in the last chapter.
  • Brick Joke: Early in the run, there is a bit of narration that refers to Leah as Hela's left hand, in contrast to Tyr being Hela's right. Turns out that she is literally Hela's hand, although the artists never seem to agree on whether it's her left or her right
    • In Journey Into Mystery 625, Loki is dealing with the aftermath of bringing some dire news to Hela. When he recives worse news, he reports to her handmaiden Leah, who tells him he "already brought" dire news, so he corrects himself with "Dire-er news!" Almost at the end of the issue, he runs up to Hela and Mephisto, who are having Parley, and loudly declares "DIRE-EST NEWS!" and Hela looks exasperated.
  • The Bus Came Back: The Celtic god Caber makes his first appearance in since 1990 in the Manchester Gods arc. Herne the Hunter reappears in the same arc after an even longer gap - his only previous appearance was in 1980.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: In the recap of issue #632, Ikol and Loki are the ones in charge of giving a summary of past events in the series:
    Ikol: What about Odin's brother, the Serpent, attempting to rule the world through fear itself? And Odin almost killing everyone to stop him?
    Kid Loki: Fixed it. A Tuesday afternoon trifle.
  • Central Theme: Change is good. The new is good. But this is a single run in a single series that is part of a huge mainstream comic continuity, so it's never going to last.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: the Leah that Loki wrote into the Serpent's story in issue 629
    • Also, remember the Teller from the 626.1 issue that didn't seem to have anything to do with anything? Yeah, he's actually super important to the plot
  • Continuity Nod: Hela explicitly references the time she sent adult Loki into the past to engineer his own adoption.
  • Creating Life Is Unforeseen: Young Loki, in an effort to humanize the Serpent, an unbeatable enemy, added a romantic sub-plot to his biography. Said sub-plot, who was modelled after his best friend Leah, later appeared basically to go Rage Against the Heavens / Rage Against the Author on his ass. At the end it was revealed that she grew up to become the goddess Hela.
  • Crazy-Prepared: The final issue reveals Original Loki correctly foresaw his Kid self might try to Screw Destiny at the beginning of the run. So, he set up a Xanatos Gambit to ensure the Resurrection-by-Grand Theft Me would still come to pass.
  • Creator Cameo: Gillen himself appears in one panel while Loki and Leah are meeting Daimon Hellstrom in a pub during the "Manchester Gods" arc.
  • Eat the Evidence: Facetiously suggested in the first issue.
    Volstagg: I could eat Loki. There would be no evidence. A perfect crime!
  • Et Tu, Brute?: When Thori betrays Loki, Loki gets pretty broken up about it.
  • Face Palm: Leah slaps her hand across her face in frustration frequently around Loki.
  • Fate Worse than Death: What happens to kid Loki in the end.
  • Foil: Loki identifies quite a bit with the hel-puppy that he names Thori since they're both supposedly unalterably evil beings. The difference between them is Thori loves being what he is and happily reverts to form the first chance he gets, while Loki does everything he can to avoid his fate.
  • From the Ashes: The final issue ends on a huge moment that changes everything. The aftermath of this event leads directly to Kieron Gillen's next book, the second volume of Young Avengers. And the finale of that is a launching point of Al Ewing Loki: Agent of Asgard.
  • Gainax Ending: Gillen had to post an explanation of what had happened in the ending on his tumblr, because at least half the fanbase didn't understand what had just occurred.
  • Gambit Pileup: There are a variety of different factions competing against one another in Journey into Mystery. However, this is notable as probably being one of the few cases where a character competes against HIMSELF. Which became his new status quo of questionable godliness after this series.
  • Guile Hero: Kid Loki. He can't fight physically. He has no magic. All he has to go on is his wits and he's got a reputation as a scheming, deceitful bastard who can't be trusted, which makes his job even more difficult. He's usually trying to trick ancient and powerful beings, some of whom are no slouches themselves when it comes to deceit. Even the soul of his evil adult self gets played by Kid Loki. Yes, he's so good he can trick himself, the God of Lies.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Subverted with Thori, played straight with the Manchester Gods and later kid Loki
  • Heroic Suicide: What Kid Loki does to save everyone from Mephisto
  • Hope Spot: At the end of the Everything Burns crossover with The Mighty Thor, they've succeeded in defeating Surtur, Loki's been definitively given Thor's trust, the Nine Realms know that it was Loki who saved them, Leah's back (sort of) and they're all going to live happily ever after. JUST KIDDING Mephisto has the Fear Crown and Loki has to annihilate himself to get rid of it.
    • Loki's "Damn me" on the final page could be seen as a hope spot. As far as character development goes, being able to admit that he is at fault is absolutely huge for Loki and it indicates that Kid Loki's final words have achieved something significant. Unfortunately he quickly follows it up with a more standard "Damn you all" indicating a return to his old self. Later series confirmed that: no, he didn't return to his old self, and is quite determined to not become like that again, for his misfortune many many people want him to.
  • Magpies as Portents: The magpie rhyme is an overarching theme - the run begins with a group of magpies on a quest through the Nine Realms after old Loki's death, and the remnant of evil Loki takes the form of a magpie to follow Loki around.
  • Memory Gambit: Loki's reason for creating kid Loki via his resurrection without his memories in the first place. He sets himself up with a new, baggage-free life in order to regain trust among those that wouldn't before for one of his own schemes that would allow 'him' to change, all the while setting things up to create a situation that would force kid Loki to take on his personality. Kid Loki claims victory in that he "dies" knowing he did change, while the original Loki setting up this scheme in the first place proves he never will. And it later turned out that the scheme resulted in a new Loki, who takes after both of them, but is neither of them. Shouldn't the guy be called Loki Lokison by this point?
  • Meta Fiction: Very much so.
    Loki: We all know how this story ends.
  • Metaphorically True: Loki, as part of his reform, tries to get through his schemes without lying. He mostly succeeds, through the use of this trope. ("I said I'd let you destroy Asgard. I didn't say which Asgard.")
  • The Modern Gods: The Manchester Gods are a race of mythical beings that spontaneously appeared in Otherworld who embody the Industrial Revolution and urbanization. They are treated as an existential threat to the other inhabitants of Otherworld, though it's later revealed that the Manchester Gods were hoping to usurp Otherworld's governing body politically, viewing the likes of Camelot and the Celtic Gods as antiquated and backwards.
  • Mood Whiplash: This quote about sums it up:
    Journey Into Mystery: A comedy in 30 parts (or a tragedy in 31)
  • My God, What Have I Done?: This is Loki's reaction after seeing the Manchester Gods working with Surtur.
    • After taking over his younger self's body, Loki's last lines in 645 of "Damn me." seem to imply this. Unfortunately, he follows it up with "Damn you all." Later series confirmed that: Yes, he really does blame himself for this.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In the Everything Burns arc, everything that Loki did in the earlier arcs comes around to bite him in the ass. "My predicament has become terribly on the nose."
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Master Wilson, the leader of the Manchester Gods, is a fusion of famed Manchester music scene personality Tony Wilson and Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Every good thing Loki does ends up screwing him over down the line.
    Ikol: Humans see groups of magpies. Magpies don't. Magpies know they stand alone. ... There is only ever one for sorrow.
  • Rage Against the Author: played with - it's actually rage against the Status Quo Is God that is assumed to be the demand of fanbase. Somewhat averted in that this new version of Loki has largely stuck.
  • Real-Place Background:
    • When Loki, Leah and Hellstrom meet in Camden they're in the World's End pub, a real venue that's a long-standing part of London's goth and alternative scene.
    • Loki's initial retaliation against the Manchester Gods is to blow up Cragside, a real historic house.
  • Reformed, but Rejected: Kid Loki, who was genuinely determined to be good, was universally distrusted and the general assumption was that it was all a scheme. And the assumption was right. But it wasn't Kid Loki's scheme: he was just its victim.
  • Rewriting Reality: Loki created a chance to win against the Serpent by forging his biography. Not only did he need to get access to said book but also required a special pen (the shadow of Surtur's sword), and ink (Leah's blood) to pull this stunt off.
  • Running Gag: Daimon is never going to put on a shirt, Loki.
  • Screw Destiny: What kid Loki is trying to do in being a hero instead of a villain. It's what adult Loki's trying, too, even though it is very heavily implied he is destined to fail.
  • Sdrawkcab Name: Loki transforms the spirit of his old self into a magpie companion, which he calls Ikol.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Despite everything he accomplished, the friends that he made and the respect and trust that he earned, kid Loki ends up being annihilated and replaced by old Loki with no one the wiser to his fate. Sure, he won in that he was good, but it still means nothing in the long run. Because status quo is God in mainstream superhero comic books.
  • Shout-Out: The Manchester Gods arc has a few.
    Master Wilson: As some dear friends of mine once said, there's no future in England's dreaming.
    • One of the Manchester Gods' holy places is "some greenhouse in Northampton", a reference to Alan Moore mentioning in interviews that his initial work on Swamp Thing let him buy a greenhouse for his dad.
  • Snicket Warning Label: The book tells you it is "comedy in 30 parts, and tragedy in 31" which also has the courtesy to tell you in the narration to stop reading around the end of the 30th issue (and express its disappointment that you won't).
  • Social Media Before Reason: Kid Loki knows he needs to escape through a portal fast after he's summoned Surtur—but he can't resist snapping a picture of the rampaging, now freed fire giant first. (Probably for the skeptical followers of his Instagram, which we've seen earlier in the series.)
  • Stable Timeloop: the second Leah was sent back in time and became Hela.
  • Status Quo Is God: Kid Loki ceases to exist and the original Loki comes back.
  • Suicide for Others' Happiness: The story concludes with young Loki discovering he wasn't really an reincarnation of the original Loki, only an innocent clone of sorts, whom the original intended from the start to eventually erase from existence and take the body of, with his good name restored, in order to get back to backstabbing everyone whose trust Kid Loki had re-earned. Kid Loki is horrified- but Loki had also manipulated him into creating a MacGuffin currently causing a multiverse-endangering civil war that will only exist as long as Kid Loki does. Kid Loki ultimately agrees to be erased from existence so that his family- particularly Hela and Thor- don't get dragged down in the war and are allowed to be happy.
  • Talking to Themself: Loki and Ikol, since Ikol doesn't really exist in the physical world.]]
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Everything always comes back to being Loki's fault.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Hellstrom. The fanservice is both pointed out in the letters column and a Running Gag in the actual story.
    Kid Loki: So...why the leather trousers and lack of shirt?
    Hellstrom: A guy's got a certain reputation, you know.
  • Wham Episode: Issue 641 Leah's goodbye and Surtur being revealed behind the Manchester Gods that Loki just helped.
    • Issue 643 Leah is revealed to be the Leah that Loki wrote into the Serpent's story, and then Loki tells her that he's sick of being hated and mistrusted by the Asgardians, that he resents Thor for bringing him back to them, that he honestly is upset about what happened to Leah and wants to help her, and that he wants to let everyone burn in Surtur's fires. And then he dumps Thor into a lake of lava. It turned out later he hadn't really switched sides, but he still dumped Thor in the lava and (probably) wasn't even lying about most of what he told her.
  • Wham Line:
    • When the Herald of Surtur reveals their identity to the readers. "Leah of Hel knows Loki's character better than her own."
    • And a few issues later, from the same person no less: "Ikol. The bird. You know he doesn't exist outside your head."
  • With Friends Like These...: Loki and Leah. In fact, he once figured out when someone was impersonating her due to the fake Leah being too nice.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Loki/Ikol's is kind of the most brilliant
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: How kid Loki and some of his enemies usually do battle.
  • You Bastard!: In the final panel of Gillen's run, Loki looks directly at the reader while saying "Damn you all." This is very much in line with the book's Deconstruction of Status Quo Is God.