King Loki tries to burn away our Loki's innocence so that he can be his pawn in his attempt to take over the Ten Realms while Asgard is weakened. Our Loki is sent to some form of purgatory, where he's confronted by Old Loki and Kid Loki. Old Loki tells him to accept what he's learned -- that he'll always be seen as the God of Lies, regardless of his deeds -- and return as Loki. Kid Loki tells him instead to end the story of Loki by embracing the void like he did. Thankfully, Verity calls him (thanks to his phone with magical cellular coverage) and tells him that she's confused but that she wants him to know that it's not too late to change. She reminds him that King Loki didn't know her, so they might be past a point where their stories diverge. Our Loki tells her that he'll always be the God of Lies; she tells him that she doesn't even know what the "God of Lies" means, but that he can't even tell a lie correctly, so he's already something else. Elsewhere, Odin urges him to be worthy of his own power and remember what a lie is. Then, Loki choses neither Old Loki or Kid Loki's path. He reminds himself that he has a friend that believes in him and a brother that he loves, that he's his own man, and that he will never sit long in a box built for him. Deciding that he'll keep these traits but that it's time to tell a different story, he fully immolates himself, to King Loki's fury. He hurls them eight months in the future, with a red sky and another Earth looming over them, and appears at Verity's apartment. He doesn't recognize her, but he tells her that he understands that she's a friend. He then announces that he's the God of Stories.
This ending is as close to perfect as I can imagine it. Since I've been reading about Loki, starting with the "Young Avengers," he's suffered under an increasing amount of baggage: first, the spirt of Kid Loki, then the presence of King Loki, and now the appearance of Old Loki. Deciding to burn away that history to become his own man seemed the most logical thing to do. Emerging as the God of Stories? Even better. Because, honestly, sometimes you just have to burn away the bad to start with the good. The open question, of course, is whether Asgard will accept this change. King Loki burnt Earth to a crisp in his war with King Thor because no one accepted his efforts to change. But, this new Loki isn't a reformed God of Lies; he's the God of Stories. Will that change be sufficient? I guess we'll see.
(By the way, I didn't fully realize that King Thor's golden age of Asgard was concurrent with King Loki's total destruction of Earth. Originally, I thought of Asgard and Earth's fates as linked; in other words, a destroyed Earth couldn't exist at the same time as a golden Asgard. I also thought that Loki was somehow tricking the All Mother to bring about Thor's golden age of Asgard, because it's that age that Loki destroys to usher in Thor's destruction. But, I now understand that they exist at the same time. Plus, King Loki was in the past to change ruling over a destroyed planet, not bring about it. In the end, it all comes together.)
**** (four of five stars)