Loki’s in a weird place. And that’s just where people seem like him. Neither hero nor villain, the famed trickster of Asgard is back as an adult and off on his own this February in a new ongoing series Loki: Agent of Asgard.
The name conjures up a mixture of Asgardian mythology with modern-day espionage, and given Loki’s a conjurer himself it’s something creators Al Ewing and Lee Garbett aren’t backing away from. Announced at New York Comic Con earlier this year, the series finds Loki trying to fight the dark desires of his old persona and balance a life working for the All-Mother as Asgard’s right hand man. Ewing describes the series as a mixture between the spy genre and the “sexy grifter” genre, and Garbett tells Newsarama that the story shows Loki as a “rich, complex character” that fully capitalizes on the recent work on the character by both Kieron Gillen and actor Tom Hiddleston. We also asked Garbett briefly about his work on next year’s X-Men: Days Of Future Past movie as a character designer, and which pieces of his work might show up in the final film.
Newsarama: Lee, you’ve done Marvel work before, but you’re best known for your work at DC, especially on Batgirl. So what’s it like launching a new series at Marvel and featuring such an A-lister like Loki?
Lee Garbett: It really is as fantastic as it sounds. Loki is definitely front and center right now and such a rich, complex character. With Kieron Gillen's brilliant take on him and Tom Hiddleston's wonderfully played movie version there so much to build on - and knowing what Al Ewing has planned, it won't disappoint and will take Loki on to another level again. Loki's not really a villain, a hero or an anti-hero anymore. He's...Loki with all the perks and problems that brings with it. There's so much scope for a character like that that I grin just thinking about drawing it.
Nrama: You’re coming to Loki: Agent of Asgardafter recently doing a healthy stint at Valiant on X-O Manowar, Harbinger and others. What’s it like coming back to the Marvel U and doing it in such a big way?
Garbett: It's a dream realized, really. I'd originally joined Valiant to launch a title there but that ended up in limbo due to the writer pulling out. They were great to work with and kept me busy on some superb stuff. I'm especially proud of my time on X-O Manowar - but I always felt it was Cary Nord's book and was still on the lookout for a title to call my own. Marvel had seen some of my latest work and talked about opportunities for an ongoing there. They said they had something Al was writing and Lauren Sankovitch was editing. I was immediately interested as I think both are pretty special talents. I knew it would be something smart and well-crafted but I didn't know what it actually was. When they came back and said it was called Loki: Agent of Asgard and I heard the plans for the character, I couldn't wait to be a part of it. Since then I've also started to comprehend the level of popularity Loki has out there. It is serious.
Nrama: How would you describe the tone and feel you and Al are going for with Loki: Agent of Asgard?
Garbett: Light and dark. There are some real comic beats in there, there's a joy to him in this new role but there's also an underlying darkness that manifests throughout the book. As usual with Loki and the world around him, things aren't always as they seem. There are things in the shadows. Loki doesn't have a monopoly on manipulation; there are others with hidden agendas too. There's also action! Adventure! Speed Dating! Impaling! New characters to come too. Loki will pick up a very cool supporting cast along the way.
Nrama: With launching a book as opposed to joining one already going, what challenges and opportunities does it give you as an artist?
Garbett: It's easier to start something new, I think, or the challenges in doing so are something I have wanted for a while and so enjoy them. Slotting into four issue arcs can be harder as often you don't know what the other artist is working on, what the character is doing, etc. in the arcs before or after. You just know your bit. You're working in a vacuum and that can be very odd at times and of course you can't make any major artistic choices because they won't be carried through. You also just get into your stride and then have to hand it back, which can get frustrating. Joining a book as the ongoing artist, whether it's issue #1 or #100, is easier as you have some level of control and can just focus on the world building, the character, the acting etc. It can get a little daunting at first and hard to put the initial lines down but once you're into the flow of it it's the best feeling. It's much more of a creative experience as you're setting the tone throughout and more free to push that.
Nrama: Will you be inking your own work like you’ve done on X-O Manowar?
Garbett: Yeah. That's been the key, really. I'd always had good feedback on pencil work but there was something getting lost in translation when I'd get it back from inkers. Not all, I've worked with some really good guys. Stefano Gaudiano was a revelation as his style showed me my work could stand quite a heavy brush approach, but with others the line was just cold and dead or overly simplified. Inking myself means the personality of the characters, the acting, etc. I was aiming for, will come across. Rightly or wrongly. =)
Nrama: And who’ll be coloring you on this project?
Garbett:Nolan Woodard. He's been doing some really nice work for Marvel recently and his colours on this book are great! Full of atmosphere and there are some really inventive ideas here and there that help push the scenes.
Nrama: Most people don’t know this, but in addition to your comics work you also draw heroes as a character designer for X-Men: Days of Future Past. Can you tell us about your role in that, and what work of yours we can see in the movie and trailer?
Garbett: I only did a few weeks on the project but yeah, it was great fun. I got to work on some civvies and costumes for Beast, Professor X, Wolverine and Colossus. I've seen elements of the designs in some of the costumes and I hear the design for Colossus' costume was chosen for the movie, which is just amazing news. I'm a big X-Men fan so when there came time to design some generic mutant costumes I tried to add little elements of comic book characters in there.
I added little Dazzler emblems or tattoos of logos, etc. but I don't know if that will make the final cut.