Comic Review: Journey Into Mystery #637
Writers: Kieron Gillen, Dan Abnett, and Andy Lanning
Artist: Carmine Di Giandomenico
Colourist: Andy Troy
Letterer: Virtual Calligraphy’s Clayton Cowles
(Note: This issue follows on from Exiled #1, and continues into New Mutants #42.)
Previously, in Journey Into Mystery: The Disir, flesh eating women who used to serve Odin’s father, Bor, have been released from Mephisto’s Hell due to the reappearance of Sigurd, an ancient warrior that they thought had died. Mephisto tasks Loki with finding them again, or he will reveal Loki’s part in recent dark dealings. Loki enlisted his brother Thor, goddess of death Hela, her handmaiden Leah, and the Warriors Three to help him in this quest.
Sigurd turns out to be the alter ego of Zig, a man who just happens to be living across from the New Mutants in San Francisco. When the New Mutants, the hordes of Asgard and the Disir appear on his doorstep, Sigurd uses an ancient tablet to cause all of the Asgardians to disappear.
This issue starts off with the New Mutants none the wiser to the goings on of last issue. This works very well as a narrative device, because we then discover what has happened along with them as they piece together the mystery of Sigurd and the Disir. And what a mystery it is. With the ambiguous ending that the Exiled one-shot offered, it wasn’t exactly clear what was going on, and this issue rectifies all of the confusion in one fell swoop. Rather than dragging it out as the whole focus of the crossover, this issue deals with all of that and sets us off on another problem instead – what to do about it now that we know what has happened.
The main problem is that the Asgardians and Disir have all been transformed into human forms. They no longer remember their past lives, and are living out their days as humans (though they retain their curly speaking font). This leads to some amusing scenes such as Thor the car mechanic, or Volstagg the abysmal baker who manages to eat all of his stock. It comes across as a sort of twisted What If?, but with a nagging suspicion that everything is not as it seems and there’s trouble lurking around the corner.
This portrayal of Asgardians in San Francisco is completely different to the usual meetings between the New Mutants and the gods. Usually, the New Mutants end up in the other Nine Realms, but with the Asgardians in the human world for a change, this crossover has a distinctly different flavour to those previous meetings, which helps keep everything fresh and new. There are surprises galore as the story unfolds, and even the recap page continues to be impressive. Loki’s usual text-filled monologue boxes abound, and the whole issue has a sense of fun about it that makes the final few scenes even more foreboding.
Carmine Di Giandomenico’s art is a difficult one to review. His line work is very heavy, and this can lead to some panels seeming crowded, though there’s something about the way he captures Volstagg covered in doughnut glaze that makes me want to give him a pass on the whole thing. The colours that Andy Troy covers his work in are aptly chosen, but again become muted by Giandomenico’s thick outlines. It’s a crowdedness that the book doesn’t really need with such an extended cast, but it does have its moments. Journey Into Mystery has had far worse pencillers (I’m looking at you, Whilce Portacio), so whilst Giandomenico has problems, they never truly interfere with the story at hand.
Two issues in, and the Exiled crossover is getting into the swing of things. With one problem almost solved and another threatening to throw everything out of whack, there’s a lot going on in this issue with promises of even more to come. The fish-out-of-water aspect of the Asgardians works very well as a framing device for the story, and all three writers bring their best character work to the New Mutants and Loki. With everything much clearer than when we started, I’m anxious to see how the team and the little trickster deal with coming their way next.
GO Rating: 4/5