Thor Week: Thor and Loki Blood Brothers Motion Comic

As Thor Week continues, Loki has taken over Asgard and is debating the fate of his step-brother, Thor.  Is it the God of Thunder’s end?

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amazon-black-iconWhen I first watched a motion comic, I never thought they were quite as big as they are. Publishing comic strips in the form of minisodes on Youtube makes perfect sense to me. Selling them on iTunes as a webshow (although IMDb and Netflix seem to be stuck on the idea of television) and then later as a DVD seems a bit odd to me. Yet that’s what happened with Thor and Loki: Blood Brothers, one of several comics included in a 2011 DVD release. Were this “TV series” aired on television or Hulu, complete with commercials and opening and closing credit sequences, it would be a miniseries of four half-hour episodes. Watched as one would on a DVD or Netflix, it is a 72 minute film.

Either of these approaches illustrates the folly of releasing this in such a way: the entire hour-long production feels like a single thirty minute episode of a television show, stretched out with slow, monotonous dialogue. This seems to be the norm for motion comics, and it’s fine in short snippets, but in the long form slow, dramatic monologue and dialogue do not make the story compelling on their own. This format is generally chosen in stories that avoid action scenes, most likely because these tend to be animated as cheaply as possible, so there is no picking up the slack there.

How about the story? That is one thing that does work. I found it odd, and a bit ridiculous at first. The story begins with Loki having recently conquered Asgard, a concept that seems to place it firmly in an Elseworlds scenario. This would be more believable had he risen as an adviser and then dispatched Odin, but instead the impression we’re given is that he led a fighting war against Odin and Thor, and overpowered them. Once the story moves past this, however, it gets interesting. Loki moves from prisoner to prisoner – and is visited by various gods and allies – exploring what led him to turn on Odin and what will come next. The result is an interesting and cerebral story with multiple viewpoints. Loki even shows that he is willing to turn over a new leaf – assuming that he heeded the right warnings and has the opportunity to.

The best thing about Blood Brothers is the mood. This starts with an art style that is unlike any other Marvel story I have seen, setting the stage for an Elseworlds tale perfectly. Much of it exists like an ancient myth, with Loki bartering with Hel and arguing with Sif, although a large amount of this is exposition about their character histories and how the story reached this point. Still, it demonstrates that Loki is a terrible, vengeful and powerful being and that he got to where he was by spinning false promises and making deals that he sees as optional to fulfill. More important, to him, is the future, as he spends the last act trying to prevent what seems as an inevitable mythic punishment on a scale similar to that of Prometheus or Atlas.

All of this combines to add a mythic backdrop as the story does its best to transform Loki into a sympathetic hero as Thor slowly becomes seen as the villain of the story, if an unwitting one. The effect of this will vary from person to person, but regardless, most will wish for Loki to succeed at the very end of the story. Still, I think it doesn’t quite hit the emotional mark that it wants to in this form, though it might be more effective as a comic.

Ultimately I would give this story a pass. It has a lot of interesting ideas and interacts with Loki in a brand new way, but it drags along for over an hour in a story that doesn’t require that much to tell. This could certainly have been rewritten into an animated movie, but a motion comic is a tedious form that is very picky as to what stories it will flatter. This is not one of those few.

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