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When you really think about it, there is probably no comics character more responsible for more amazing runs of Marvel books than Asgard’s God of Mischief, Loki Laufeyson. This is partly due to the secretly high concentration of outstanding Thor runs through the ages, but, as you’ll see, Loki is largely responsible on page for the birth of the shared Marvel Comics Universe, which puts their horns in a lot of different comics pies.
Loki is about to be hotter than ever, which means that key single issues from his comics history are going to become even more collectible than before…and sound investments if you’re hoping to own some pieces of comics history that will appreciate in value over time.
Video voiceover by: Murdock Golder
Journey Into Mystery #85
Just two issues prior to this one, Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, and Jack Kirby had relaunched a Twilight Zone-ey anthology book into Marvel’s home for big, booming Norse god superheroics.
Journey Into Mystery #85 continued the development of that world, and brought Thor’s trickster brother into the Marvel U. This is a fairly straightforward Marvel silver age book, with a silly plot and some stunning, boldly imaginative art from King Kirby. The costumes and characters aren’t quite settled in iconography yet, but much of what Loki will become is here in these pages.
Journey Into Mystery #85 is massively collectible already, and will only be worth more as the show makes him more popular, but it’s also an indelible piece of comics history: Lee and Kirby are really cranking up the Marvel universe here, and you can see the green shoots of the inventiveness and brilliance that makes Kirby the greatest ever on some of these pages. If you’ve got a couple thousand bucks lying around, that is – in addition to being the first appearance of Loki, Journey Into Mystery #85 is the first appearance of Odin, Heimdall, and Balder as well. You’re looking at spending at least $2,000 for a copy, and probably a couple times that if you want one in decent shape.
There came a day like no other, and that day set the stage for the Marvel Universe as we know it. Avengers #1 is the true birth of the shared Marvel comics world, the first time Marvel characters stopped being guest stars in other books and started existing within them, just off screen. And it’s all because of Loki. Imprisoned on the Isle of Silence by their brother, Loki uses their magic to trick the world into thinking the Hulk is rampaging. That brings together four heroes new to the world: Thor, Ant-Man, Wasp and Iron Man. Those four team up to defeat the God of Mischief, throw him in a lead tank, and then agree to work together moving forward. And the rest was history.
Avengers #1 was always highly collectible, but it’s also extremely popular, so you’ll have lots of chances to snag a copy if you can’t afford to spend $30,000 on an authentic, quality copy from the 1960s. The book has been reprinted several times, most recently in 2016, with its original cover. And there are convention exclusive reprints with J. Scott Campbell covers (sketch and colored) that can be had for only $30.
Walter Simonson may be the definitive Thor storyteller in Marvel history. His behemoth run was the foundation text for arguably the best MCU film, Thor: Ragnarok, and saw him give the defining takes on just about all of Asgard, from Thor himself all the way to minor, secondary villains like Skurge the Executioner or Lorelei. But not many characters did better under Simonson’s watch than Loki. Thor #353 is one of many high points of this run, featuring Loki and Thor fighting alongside Odin to stop Surtur’s rampage.
Compared to earlier entries on this list, the Simonson run as a whole is MUCH more collector friendly. Thor #353 can be had in perfect condition for cheaper than many new books. In fact, you’re as likely to find this issue as part of a lot of Simonson Thor comics as you are to find it alone. And that’s great – the whole run is worth your time.
Buy Thor #353 here.
Thor (2007) #5
It’s hard to believe now, but there was a period in the early 2000s when Marvel just stopped publishing Thor comics. They ended one run with a magnificent Ragnarok, let Asgard lie dormant for almost 3 years, and then brought the Norse gods back in a big way, and nobody was more changed by that return than Loki. She returned from the post-Ragnarok nothingness as a woman in this issue, written by J. Michael Straczynski and dazzlingly drawn by Olivier Coipel. Expect this to be referenced in the new series.
Thor #5 is almost certainly underpriced as of publication. You can find copies of the regular cover for close to cover price, while the issue’s lone variant by J. Scott Campbell is going for in the $25-$40 range. This is almost certain to go up because of the show, and if Loki spends any serious screen time as a woman, it should go up by a lot. Now might be a good time to get in on the ground floor.
Journey Into Mystery #622
No run of Loki stories has likely had a greater influence on the MCU’s take on Loki than what Kieron Gillen did with him, starting at the end of the big Siege crossover, Loki dies at the hands of The Sentry, and is immediately resurrected as a preteen version of himself. From there on, Kid Loki becomes one of the most beloved Marvel comics characters of the past decade: tricky, razor smart, self-aware, and ambiguous.
This issue in particular, with excellent pencils from Doug Brathwaite, is an incredible deep dive on who Loki is and what role they serve in the story of Asgard, and the combination of quality and intermedia importance is helping this issue do some numbers online – the second printing in particular, featuring a photo cover of Tom Hiddleston fully be-horned in his movie Loki getup, is going for between $75 and $100. That will probably calm down some after the show, but I’d bet not by a ton, considering where the story might go.
Buy Journey Into Mystery #622 here.
Young Avengers #1
Gillen’s time shepherding Kid Loki continues as the trickster teen assembles yet another cadre of Avengers. It features a team of Marvel sidekicks and legacy heroes echoing their predecessors – the children of Vision and Scarlet Witch (Wiccan and Speed) and Wiccan’s boyfriend Hulkling; Kate Bishop, the second and better Hawkeye; kid Loki; Noh-Varr, the Marvel Boy from an alternate reality; depowered mutant genius Prodigy; and alternate reality ass kicker Ms. America.
So between it’s likely importance to the future of the MCU (this team is almost guaranteed to be the foundation of the inevitable Young Avengers MCU entry) and the staggeringly gorgeous art from Jamie McKelvie, this book is a must buy. Fortunately, there are lots of options – Marvel knew this would be a hit when it launched, so they had multiple variant covers (from both Skottie Young and Scott Pilgrim’s Bryan Lee O’Malley, as well as the now-traditional blank sketch variant). You can find original covers for a little over cover price, and variants in the $10-$25 range. The second printing of the first issue – with a black, white and blue sketch version of the O’Malley variant – can be found in that range too.
Buy Young Avengers (2013) #1 here.
Loki: Agent of Asgard #1
If Kieron Gillen’s story is about what Loki means to the story of the Marvel Universe, Al Ewing’s Loki: Agent of Asgard is about what Loki means to their own story. As Young Avengers wrapped, Kid Loki was destroyed and replaced by a Hiddlestonier older version, one obsessed with establishing their own heroism. So they cut a deal: the ruling All-Mother triumvirate in Asgard would wipe old Loki stories from Asgardian records in exchange for Loki completing missions on their behalf on Earth. Agent of Asgard is half heist comic, half deep character piece, with an evil old version of Loki being the series’ recurring villain. Ewing and artist Lee Garbett turn in a witty, fun book that has some of the finest Loki character work in all ten realms.
Prices on this book have risen steeply of late, likely in anticipation of everything with Loki’s name on it getting hot. As such, you’ll be hard pressed to find a copy of even the first printing going for less than $15, and the real heavy hitter here – the sketch variant of Frank Cho’s Jim Steranko homaging Loki cover – is up over $200.
Buy Loki: Agent of Asgard #1 here.
Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #8
In this issue of Ryan North and Erica Henderson’s top-tier Marvel run, New York is under attack from Ratatoskr, the trash talking squirrel who runs messages up and down the World Tree. Squirrel Girl battles Ratatoskr’s rumor mongering with the help of Loki, Odinson, Jane Foster Thor, and SG’s roommate, Nancy Whitehead, who it turns out is the author of a great deal of Asgardian fan fiction. Only with all the Norse Gods replaced by cats. Loki, of course, finds this hilarious, and spends the rest of the story with Cat Thor’s head, and it is utterly delightful for everyone except their very frustrated brother.
It’s not an impactful moment in Loki’s history. It does nothing to the MU’s metanarrative, and until they decide to bring in the Netflix properties and use Squirrel Girl as Jessica Jones and Luke Cage’s au pair like they did in the comics, this will have nothing to do with the MCU. So you can find this for cheaper than cover price, or as part of lots that are cumulatively MUCH cheaper than cover price. And that’s great: these Squirrel Girl stories were terrific. They’re worth every penny at twice the price.
Buy Unbeatable Squirrel Girl (2015) #8 here.
Vote Loki #1
Christopher Hastings and Langdon Foss do something interesting with Loki here: instead of using him to comment on the Marvel Universe, they use them to comment on ours. Vote Loki was a send up of American electoral politics, mocking the…ever-changing nature of the American electorate by having Loki campaign for President as an open, avowed, amoral liar. I’ll be honest, there are moments where this one still lands a little shakily, but it’s certainly improved since its unfortunate release timing (in the middle of the 2016 election). It’s smart and fun, and from the looks of the Loki trailer, probably important.
Like everything else with Loki in the title, the market has gone a little crazy for these of late. The main covers are going for multiple times the cover price, and the variants (particularly the Valerio Schiti incentive cover for the first issue) up in the 3 and 4 figures. Wild for a book that’s this new.
Buy Vote Loki #1 here.
Some of these books are here because they’re brilliant investigations of comic storytelling, or deeply personal character studies of complex, multifaceted comics characters with a half century of history. And some are on here because they have a scene where Thanos tells the Norse goddess of death “It’s not you, it’s me” in the middle of a sham wedding in Hel. Thor #4 is almost at the big War of the Realms, the culmination of Jason Aaron’s nearly ten years writing Thor, and it’s an absolute blast. If you read the excellent Aaron run from start to finish, this will be one of your favorite issues.
If you get this issue’s James Harren variant – obtainable at less than $10 – you’ll be very happy with yourself for doing it.
Buy Thor (2018) #4 here.