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Marvel Knights
Thor & Loki:
Blood Brothers

release date: 9/13/2011

Two brothers meet on a snow-covered battlefield, power crackling from their very hands. No matter who tells the story, it's always going to end the same way. The powerful blond god who commands the lightning will best the simpering serpent-tongued god of mischief.

Therein has always been a challenge to writers of Thor -- how do you make a struggle laid out in myth seem fresh and new? Back when Marvel Knights seemed itself a fresher initiative that people noticed, Editor Axel Alonso hired Robert Rodi to write Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers , which does approach the conflict from a new angle.

What if Loki won? It doesn't matter how. What matters is that the God of Mischief is smart enough to realize that the conflict itself might be the only thing that defines him.

Teaming Rodi with artist Esad Ribic, whose masterful painting evokes Frazetta – but then, it would have to, wouldn't it? – the story is literate and thoughtful. As a book, it worked really well. As a motion comic, now available from Shout! Factory, it's still beautiful but definitely not for all tastes.

For instance, if you thought the problem with the live-action Thor movie was that it had too much action, then this might be for you. Despite that snow-bound title sequence, Loki has already triumphed. Blood Brothers is about all of that triumph curdling in his gap-toothed grin.

For the most part, It's slow and elegiac, with Rodi's script offering up meditations on the isolation Loki felt growing up, which Tom Hiddleston had to illustrate on film through "acting."

With Loki's subjugation of Balder, Rodi also offers an explanation of why we see this conflict time and time again, and why his and Ribic's take on the characters are a little different from the Thor and Loki who normally interact with the Avengers.

So though I make light of it, the writing is really good. The art is eye-popping. But I'm still not 100% sold on motion comics. Some of the animation works smoothly, while other times it's akin to South Park (though with much, much better art). The depth of field in the shots stays consistently well-done, but you start noticing that some characters remain static.

And though the voices are appropriate to the characters, the direction is only cursory, focusing far more on syncing with the character's lips than their actual emotions.

But if you are one who thinks that you'd rather watch a Motion Comic than read the book, this is one of the best I've seen – though the DVD has trailers for the one I consider the best so far, Astonishing X-Men: Gifted and one that actually got me a little excited to see -- Black Panther.

So this is Thor for the reflective viewer. For kids who are Thor fans, pick up Thor: Tales of Asgard. For the family, pick up the movie. If it's just you, a smoking jacket, and a snifter of brandy, pick up Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers.

Derek McCaw

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