A spiky suited iron man floats between skyscrapers, the image is projected onto Loki's chest. The whole image is in shades of green and black.

Marvel’s New Novel Puts a New(ish) Spin on a Beloved Villain

3.5/5 Geckos

Marvel’s Multiverse Saga is well underway, but if Marvel’s decision to space out its films and TV shows has got you down, why not pick up its latest multiversal novel?

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What If…Loki Was Worthy? A Loki and Valkyrie Story, by Madeleine Roux, is the first in three new What If…? novels coming out in 2024. Marvel’s What If…? series, which made the jump from comics to animation in 2021, uses the multiverse to place familiar Marvel characters in new realities and storylines. The second novel will reimagine Wanda Maximoff and Peter Parker as siblings, and the third will see Marc Spector hosting the alien symbiote Venom.

In What If…Loki Was Worthy?, Loki sets out to play a humiliating prank on his brother Thor. But when the prank ends with Thor dead and New York City ravaged, Loki is stripped of his powers and exiled from Asgard. Meanwhile, Tony Stark decides that he’s going to avenge the Earth (and the loss of a dear friend) by waging war on the Asgardians. Loki teams up with Rūna the Valkyrie to stop the mayhem, hoping against hope to clear his name in the process.

True to the What If…? formula, Loki and the others aren’t quite the familiar faces we know from other Marvel stories, but they’re still true to their characters. Loki’s story arc in particular gives readers some subtle fan service. No, your favorite ship isn’t in this book, but you will find Loki wrestling with the trauma of his toxic childhood, and gradually finding his way to catharsis and healing. I’m personally losing track of how many redemption arcs Loki has had across all of Marvel’s properties, but somehow, it never gets any less satisfying. Loki even gets himself a pet, the mild-mannered gecko Brian. I’ll warn you that by the middle of the novel, you will be willing to lay down your life for Brian.

In terms of the overall story, though, the novel is a bit too cluttered with characters and plot twists. This particular universe must be pretty small, because it seems like everyone knows everyone. The first few chapters are an especially dull slog, as every member of the weirdly large cast gets their own opening chapter. It feels like a Game of Thrones-level opening, but without the Game of Thrones-length saga to make it worth the work (the novel clocks in at just under 300 pages).

After that rocky start, though, the book levels out into a fun yarn. Loki and Valkyrie form an uneasy alliance while Tony slides down the path of villainy. Some plot elements are clearly setting up the next novel in the series, while one of the Watchers puzzles over Loki’s timeline from outside of Yggdrasil. (Yep, this book contains the “new” multiverse introduced at the end of Loki season 2).

Is What If…Loki Was Worthy? a perfect novel? No, but it’s a lot of fun, and it’ll give Loki, Valkyrie, and Iron Man fans their fix.

What If…Loki Was Worthy? is now available from booksellers.

(featured image: Random House Worlds)


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Author
Julia Glassman
Julia Glassman (she/her) holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and has been covering feminism and media since 2007. As a staff writer for The Mary Sue, Julia covers Marvel movies, folk horror, sci fi and fantasy, film and TV, comics, and all things witchy. Under the pen name Asa West, she's the author of the popular zine 'Five Principles of Green Witchcraft' (Gods & Radicals Press). You can check out more of her writing at <a href="https://juliaglassman.carrd.co/">https://juliaglassman.carrd.co/.</a>