Holy Loki!

Loki seems to be all the rage these days, especially now that Tom Hiddleston’s portrayal of the slippery Norse God continues to steal the show from his half-brother, Thor. I saw Thor: The Dark World yesterday; it’s not a great movie, but not a terrible one either, it plods along in a very workman-like manner with a few brights spots here and there.  Hiddleston’s Loki is one of those bright spots and I enjoy his take on Lee & Kirby’s villain so far.  In fact, I was asked about Loki for this Daily Beast article here!

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The D’Aulaires take on Loki, from D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths.

I’ve liked Loki since I was a kid, so much so that I decided if I ever got a dog, I’d name him “Loki.”  I first came across him in D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths and quickly realized he was the most interesting god of the Norse pantheon.  I read about him again in another storybook called Doom of the Gods – a beautifully illustrated and painted book that really centered around Loki and all his mischievous doings.  Doom of the Gods had visceral depictions of the Norse Gods and the horrible things they did to each other (perfect for an 8 year-old-boy).

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Loki’s punishment by Tudor Humphries, from Doom of the Gods.

Funny enough, even though I was a Marvel Zombie as a kid, I never read THOR.  I was unable to reconcile the existence of the Norse Gods in such an earthbound, contemporary universe as Marvel’s and I wasn’t thrilled with how Loki, Thor, or Asgard were depicted–it was just all too zany and wild for my tastes back then.  Several years ago I read J. Michael Straczynski and Olivier Coipel’s run on THOR and enjoyed it, probably because they deftly handled that strange anachronism I never understood as a kid.  Coipel’s stunning artwork didn’t hurt either.

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When I began writing Kid Beowulf and the Blood-Bound Oath, I wanted to inject some local color into the dialogue and thought it might fun to create sayings for Beowulf, Grendel, and the other characters in lieu of swearing.  Since the Danes and Geats are Scandinavian it was only fitting to throw their gods into the mix, so “Odin’ Eye!” “For Sif’s Sake” and “Holy Loki” became the swears for my all-ages book (in extreme instances “Frigg” and “Mjolnir” are used).  You can even find t-shirts with the sayings Holy Loki and Odin’s Eye!

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So what exactly IS it about Loki that I like so much?  Well, for better or for worse, he’s the guy who stirs things up in Norse mythology.  Odin not withstanding, Loki is the prime mover: he rankles the Front Giants, he incites Thor to adventure, he barbs the Dwarves, and pokes fun at the other gods.  Granted, his fiddling does lead to dubious outcomes; but Sif’s hair wouldn’t be golden without him, Odin would not have an eight-legged horse, and Ragnarok wouldn’t have happened (okay, that last one should have been avoided).  Yes, the world would still be standing if Loki weren’t around but it’d be an awfully boring place to live in.  Loki was the only god Odin loved enough they became blood-brothers–if that’s not an endorsement I don’t know what is.

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Another depiction of Loki by Tudor Humphries, from Doom of the Gods

My love of Loki and his trickster ways led right to my other favorite mythological character, Odysseus. Like Loki, Odysseus is always thinking one or two moves ahead, he’s got a quick-wit, a sharp tongue and you never quite know where you stand with him.  In fact, Odysseus was so wily and ingenious they often likened him to a god.

Oh, and Odysseus also had a dog named Argos, just like I’ve got a dog named Loki.

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