The Norse demigod Loki is best known as a villain, but as of late he’s been trying to change his ways – but when the war drums for Axis begin beating he’s going to find himself back amongst evil, alongside Red Skull and Doctor Doom. At Saturday’s “Next Big Thing” panel Marvel conducted at Special Edition: NYC, the publisher formally announced that Loki: Agent of Asgard would be among a group of ongoing series taking part in the build-up to Axis, fittingly titled “March to Axis.”
Series writer Al Ewing says this crossover with Axis lines up perfectly with his big picture plans for Loki, and while it finds the trickster “not in a good place” it could offer a chance for Loki to avoid his dark destiny. Unfortunately for him however, that road leads straight into chains held by Doctor Doom as seen on this just-released cover to Loki: Agent of Asgard #6.
Newsarama: Al, what does Axis and this "March to Axis" have in store for Loki: Agent of Asgard?
Al Ewing: Well, after the events of Loki: Agent of Asgard #5, and the “Tenth Realm” tie-in, Loki is not in a good place. He's seen his own future, and he's seemingly inescapably trapped by it - a future that sees him returning to a status quo he's long outgrown, as a moustache-twirling maniac. Without wanting to give too much away about Axis, there are themes to the crossover that tie right in with that dilemma - over the course of the tie-ins, Loki will get his one big chance to escape that fate, and we'll see if he makes it - or if things get even worse for him.
When I was first told about Axis, my first thought - as is usually the case with crossovers - was how to make it work for me. And I think Loki lovers will be very happy with we integrate the events of Axis with the ongoing story we've been telling since issue Loki: Agent of Asgard #1.
Nrama: In the teaser images for Axis we see Loki standing on the side of the villains, right next to Red Skull. What can you say about Loki's allegiance to one side or another, and that image in particular?
Ewing: Well, as someone who got into Marvel with the UK Secret Wars reprints, I do have a deep fondness for all the characters lining up like that and saying their own names. "We're going to do some villainy today - or my name isn't Loki!" "I, Doctor Doom, agree with you!" "No time for introductions now, fellow baddies! I'm Carnage! Ssss!" "Silence! Or the power of Magneto, who is myself, will destroy you all! Moo hoo ha ha!"
Those were the days.
Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, no spoilers. Wait and see!
Nrama: How would you say Loki views Doctor Doom?
Ewing: Loki sees Doom the way he sees most people - someone he can trick his way out of trouble with if it comes down to it. He has memories of previous team-ups, during many of which he played Doom like a fiddle. But that was then - it'd be dangerous for him to underestimate Doom now. He probably will, though. Loki's still pretty arrogant when it comes down to it.
Nrama: And flipping that, how would you say Doctor Doom views Loki?
Ewing: Doom has the same amount of contempt for Loki that he has for nearly everyone else on the planet. He respects Reed more than Loki. The reason being that Loki is a god - and to Doctor Doom, gods are to be overcome. I see Doom as someone who skim-read Nietzsche in college and decided that he is the Overman, that he's crossed the bridge that is humanity and overcome it. In his own eyes, he is, to all intents and purposes, a God - and we'll see that some of subjects feel the same way. So when he looks at Loki, who was born into godhood, there's the contempt the self-made man feels for the man who inherited his power.
What I'm basically saying is that Doom gives great speeches and we can expect a doozy.
Nrama: And this story isn't just about the two of them; Marvel has stated that Valeria Richards plays a part in this, spinning off from her time with Doom recently. What can you say about her role in all of this?
Ewing: I'm spinning off what I've been reading in Fantastic Four here - I try to keep in line with other writers as much as possible and make sure that I don't contradict what they're doing. Luckily, what James Robinson is up to dovetails perfectly with my own themes - Doom, like Loki, is trying to be a better person. (Or at least trying to look like a better person.) Valeria is a big part of his motivation there - Doom seems to respect her and care about her opinion of him, which is unusual for Doom. And she's a terrific character in her own right - a morally ambiguous, super-intelligent four-year-old. (Or something-year-old. Marvel Time, everybody!)
Nrama: In the cover image to Loki: Agent of Asgard #6 by Lee Garbett, we see Loki in chains by Doctor Doom. What can you say about that image as a reflection of this story?
Ewing: That one is... less symbolic. Loki's been having a pretty easy time of it so far - at least physically, if not emotionally. He's mostly been up against frenemies and people who aren't that invested in killing him. Doom is not one of these people - he's a serious threat, at a higher level of dangerousness, and the young Loki - who's not nearly as powerful as his future self, let's not forget - might find he's bitten off more than he can chew.
Needless to say, I'm having a lot of fun with this story, and I'm pretty sure everyone else will too.