As Thor and Loki’s adventure draws to a close, Thor and Loki: Double trouble feels just as elegant and refined as when it arrived. The art of Gurihiru is still so refined and effortlessly executed. While the cover is cluttered, it is nonetheless friendly and engaging. With over-simplified, over-the-top, and often hilarious expressions and body language, Thor and Loki are always the center of the panel. Plus, the strategic use of saturation and dynamic movement guides the eye seamlessly between panels, ensuring young readers never get lost. Mariko Tamaki may not be deep, but her writing is energetic, fun, and generally keeps the story at a lightning pace. By keeping the amount of text low, the book remains friendly to young readers and places most of its storytelling on Gurihiru’s vibrant visuals.
However, beneath the artistic style and dialogue of the book, the mark on the trans portrayal is missing. The final issue sees Thor and Loki meet another Thor and Loki from another dimension. Thor and Loki from the main universe from this comic are both male, while Thor and Loki from the other dimension are both female. However, it does reinforce the idea of the binary genre for its readers, rather than describing the genre as a specter. Loki’s trans identity faded in the process. Showing Loki both a man and a woman doesn’t require two Lokis, as Loki is fluid between the sexes: Loki is both.
The book has no problem dropping the name of the giant mythological bird Fjalara, but does not attempt to use a word like “genderfluid” or simply express Loki’s gender in a positive light. Loki’s division into two different-genre Lokis is reinforced by the introduction of the comic, which refers to the second Loki as “Lady Loki”. Loki, as a woman, is just Loki. No qualifier needed. While the issue, like previous issues, shows Loki’s change in shape, none of that shape change relates to the presentation of the genre. – what it is in books like Loki: Agent of Asgard and Thor and Loki: the tenth kingdom. Gurihiru’s use of Olivier Coipel’s “Lady Loki” character design compounded the problem, wordlessly alluding to one. transphobic scenario in which Loki stole Lady Sif’s body in order to manipulate others.
Tamaki has received critical acclaim for gay centric graphic novels and also organize a gay-focused graphic novel imprint. Outside of hiring a trans writer, she could have been one of the best people to introduce young readers to positive trans portrayal through Loki. Animated shows like She-Ra and the Princesses of Power and Craig of the Creek showed the ability of children’s media to portray trans characters in a positive way. (Ironically, a character in She-Ra is a mischievous shapeshifter named Double Trouble.) With their rights under threat, trans children more than ever deserve to see positive trans portrayal in the media they consume. Unfortunately, this is not what readers of Thor and Loki: Double trouble obtained. Hopefully Marvel will provide more positive trans portrayal for kids in the future.
If you’re interested in learning more about the positive and negative portrayals of Marvel’s Loki & genderfluidity, I’ve written more about it. here and here.