Kieron Gillen's spin on Journey into Mystery was one of the best runs I've read all year, even when you count the often terrible crossovers it was involved in towards the end. There, I said it. But that run is over, and while my heart is still heaving with sadness, there's a new volume out to replace it, with a fresh creative team and another Asgardian ready to step up. And it's actually quite good.
Kathryn Immonen offers a nice blend of old and new here. Gillen's JiM fans should be pleased with the feel of this story, which borrows heavily from the Norse-fantasy style used previously. At the same time, she never tries to rehash what has been done before, and definitely put some effort into making sure we don't feel like we're getting more of the same.
Sif is given some great moments here and there. Women led books often have the problem of making their heroes overly concerned with their gender, from Captain Marvel's exploration of feminism in WW2 to Red She-Hulk beating down a rapist, which is an all too common thing for heroic women to do since rape is seen as a terrible thing that happens to WOMEN specifically (both those books are fantastic, BTW, just making a point). Immonen seems more concerned with making a character that, while clearly feminine, never seems defined by her gender in any way, which makes this book all the more enjoyable. The notable absence of Thor is also a good way for the book to start off, helping us see her as her own person rather than as an A-list hero's sexy girlfriend. There's plenty of time to explore that later, for now, this book is all about her.
This book does encounter a few rough patches at the start. A lot of the opening pages focus on Sif's interaction with Volstagg's wife and children, and while it does a lot to establish the Lady's values, goals and motivations, a lot of the dialogue feels at times out of sync, as if the characters, while talking about the same thing, are having two different conversations. The book quickly picks up speed when Sif's journey starts proper, and by the end it goes into full swing, turning rather dark and intriguing by the final page. The art is gorgeous, reminding me of Cliff Chiang's recent work on Wonder Woman in many ways. Start to finish, it's visually very pleasing.
I liked this book. If you come in looking for Gillen-level quality, of course you're gonna be disappointed, but this title holds up perfectly fine on its own, and its definitely hooked me in to see where it goes.