On Wednesday, fans were treated to the second episode of Marvel Studios' Loki, and it's safe to say that the Marvel Cinematic Universe will never be quite the same afterward. The Disney+ series has already showcased a unique approach to Marvel Comics canon, turning relatively obscure characters or elements into household names. Of course, that also includes a number of Easter eggs homaging aspects of Marvel — including a detail that might be a nod to a prolific comic creator. Spoilers for Episode 2 of Loki, "The Variant", below! Only look if you want to know!
The episode opens with a group of Minutemen, the soldiers for the Time Variance Authority, traveling to a potential anomaly at a Renaissance Faire in the 1980s. The ren faire in question was located in Oshkosh, Wisconsin — a seemingly ordinary locale, but one with significance to Marvel Comics writer Mark Gruenwald, who was born in the town in 1953.
Gruenwald had a decades-long tenure at Marvel Comics, beginning with him serving as an assistant editor on titles like Spider-Woman, What If?, and Thor in the late 1970s. Gruenwald was then promoted to editor in 1982, the same year he co-wrote Marvel's first limited series, Marvel Super Hero Contest of Champions. Gruenwald — a notorious stickler for maintaining and recording Marvel continuity — would go on to create the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, have prolific runs on Captain America and Quasar, and write the iconic twelve-issue Squadron Supreme miniseries.
The homage to Gruenwald is particularly poignant in Loki, as he is regarded to be the real-world inspiration for the character Mobius M. Mobius (Owen Wilson). Created by Walt Simonson in 1991's Fantastic Four #353, Mobius debuted as the cloned man who makes up the middle management of the TVA. The comparisons to Gruenwald were two-fold — not only did Mobius sport the same hairstyle and black mustache as Gruenwald, but the character's approach to the in-universe Marvel timeline felt like an homage to Gruenwald's fascinating with Marvel continuity.
Gruenwald would continue to have an impact on the Marvel universe even through his sudden passing in 1996, in part because his final wishes within his will requested that he be cremated and have his ashes mixed into the print run of a comic. Gruenwald's ashes were ultimately mixed into the 1997 trade paperback collection of Squadron Supreme.
What do you think of the homage to Mark Gruenwald in Loki's second episode? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!
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