Journey into Mystery Volume 1: Stronger than Monsters

Collecting Journey into Mystery #646-650

Writer: Kathryn Immonen

Artist: Valerio Schiti

Marvel Comics, $15.99, color, 120 pages

I wanted to enjoy this more than I did.

I wanted a character study of Sif, because she's been in Marvel Comics for nigh onto 50 years, and we still know very little about her. I wanted her fleshed out a little, to be a character and not just an appendage of Thor or the Warriors Three or Balder or whatever. We got that, in a way, but just not as much as I wanted.

In this book, Sif goes in search of the Berserker spell, because she's tired of Asgard (excuse me, Asgardia) always getting conquered or blown up or invaded or whatever. She appears to get it, then is banished. (Remember the "Berserker Thor" story from the Lee & Kirby days? No? Well, being a berserker is bad in Marvel's Asgard.) She is banished by Heimdall, her brother at Marvel, who is a supporting character -- although not one that gets any characterization -- in this book. (Although I think she was Balder's sister in the Elder Eddas. But then, Balder is now Thor's half-brother in the Marvel Universe, so Sif has to be somebody else's sister, so all those years she dated Thor isn't retroactively incest.) Much mayhem ensues, some in another dimension and some in Broxton, Okla., and Sif gains and loses some sidekicks. And she learns something about herself. The End.

Like I said, I wanted to enjoy this more. Heck, I just wanted more, period. The lesson Sif learns at the end of five issues is something an astute reader could guess in the first few pages, so it doesn't seem like we got a full meal here. Just a promise of one, four issues of fighting, and then some beer nuts.

I did enjoy the series -- again, not as much as I wanted to -- because Schiti did a good job of channeling Walt Simonson while still doing his own thing. And because this Sif reminded me an awful lot of the Sif from the movie, and the actress playing her in that movie did a great job, and that sort of slopped over as I read this book. Plus, I've just always loved Sif as the bad-@$$ warrior woman who confounds everyone's gender expectations, as she does here.

There's one more volume in this series -- Journey into Mystery was canceled with issue #655 -- and I'll get it because I love Sif. I just hope writer Immonen does more with her the next go-round.

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