Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers, the latest Marvel Knights Animation motion comic, came out earlier this week on DVD. The four-episode story was originally released online last spring.
Loki (voiced by David Blair) has taken over as King of Asgard, imprisoning his brother Thor (Daniel Thorn), and the story consists of his interior and exterior monologuing. He ponders his role now and flashes back every so often to moments from his childhood where he was downtrodden. People talk a lot throughout the story, which makes me wonder about the wisdom of this choice to animate. All that’s required sometimes is for the mouths to move, and the faux-grandeur of the archaic, pretend Shakespearean language is grating. (Needless to say, I don’t read the comic. I know it’s authentic to the source material.) At least they all have British accents.
I was amazed, frankly, at the art quality. It had so much depth and motion that it looked like a “real” animated cartoon (which makes it a major step forward from the previous Marvel Knights DVD, Spider-Woman: Agent of S.W.O.R.D.). It’s a shame that the story isn’t as involving as the gorgeous images, based on art by Esad Ribic. These two, for example, grace the inside of the DVD case (click to make bigger):
Loki strikes me as a character who’s better as instigator than protagonist. He’s just not that interesting to me as a central focus, and the small appearances of Thor in the first chapter make it seem like false advertising to put that character’s name on the title. Of course, without it, this wouldn’t have gotten made, since it’s out at the same time as the summer blockbuster was released on disc.
It’s certainly attractive to a writer to flesh out a villain’s motivation — even if, in this case, it turns out it’s the obvious sibling rivalry and jealousy over his brother’s accomplishments. I didn’t care for the story by Robert Rodi, so I didn’t care for the plot or subsequently the cartoon, other than to look at the pretty pictures. I scanned through much of the disc, waiting for the final showdown between the two brothers, but we don’t even get that!
Hela (Katharine Chesterton) looks ridiculous, by the way. She appears in order to demand Thor’s soul from his brother. She’s supposed to be the fearsome queen of death, but her mask, green cape, and swimsuit-styled costume make her look like some cheerleader going to a Halloween party as a bug girl. With that exception, the rest of it is lovely to watch.
The special features are:
- “Sons of Asgard — Looking Back at Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers with Robert Rodi and Esad Ribic”. This 14-and-a-half-minute piece mixes clips of what you’ve just seen with mostly Rodi justifying his story. It takes almost seven minutes before Ribic appears, and then he doesn’t say much about his own work. Neat to see him painting, though.
- A three-part Behind the Scenes (total about 20 minutes), in which the animation company (who previously did Iron Man: Extremis) directors talk about their artistic decisions. Interesting to see the reference footage, in which they hired actors to recreate the actions in the scenes as guidance for the animation. The third part concentrates on the actual steps in putting the animation together and demonstrates some step-by-step construction.
- The trailer from the original online release.
- Ads for the X-Men, Spider-Woman, Black Panther, and Iron Man discs.