Loki was eaten by his father, but he’s not dead yet. Before that happens, he seems to be trapped in some form of purgatory. Spoilers for Thor no. 12 follow.
There’s a certain story that comes to mind when one says, “Three different ghosts show someone the error of their ways.” If you don’t know, that’s the basic premise of A Christmas Carol, which is heavily the basis for what Thor no. 12 ended up being structured as, and for what Loki goes through.
The reason for this structure is because this issue is a tie-in with War of the Realms and comes off of Loki sacrificing himself to save Freyja which causes him to be eaten (yes, eaten) by his father, Laufey. As such, Loki believes that he’s dead and in Hel, well his version of it at least. It turns out though, he’s still alive and forcing himself to see what he has wrought.
First up, you have the Viking version of Loki who actually looks a lot more like Thor than he does his future self. Here though, he realizes he was the cause of Malekith’s upbringing and torment, and because of what he did millennia ago, he was the cause of the war of the realms, at least in part. It’s a great realization, and Loki’s distraught behavior over it is perfect for who the character is right now in the timeline.Image by Marvel Comics/Art by Mike Del Mundo
Next, he sees Kid Loki with whom he was still supposed to be until he decided to not be. This ghost is more so about showing Loki that although he lies to everyone else, he lies to himself the most. It’s a great look into who the character is and has always been.
Finally, we have the future, where Loki sees himself with the necrosword, the weapon of Gorr, the god butcher. Here, he sees that as much as he tries to be the hero, he will always end up being the villain. While this doesn’t necessarily signal how he will act as War of the Realms continues, it’s pretty clear that the end of Jason Aaron’s run will see Loki being a villain again.
If you’re invested in War of the Realms, Thor No. 12 is a worthy read, but if you aren’t, this isn’t the most necessary of books to read.