Kathryn Immonen has taken one of the most unlikely characters to focus an entire book on and done just that. Sif was always a background character at best and shoehorned love interest at worst for a very long time, but even when she was more than that, she was rarely, if ever, the focal point of a story which left her a great deal of untapped potential. Immonen has taken that and crafted a fascinating, shockingly introspective, book about being adrift in an ever-changing world and this issue takes that notion to heretofore unseen levels. Stranded on a massive garden in space in an attempt to heal the All-Mother Gaea, Sif is shocked when Beta Ray Bill crashes his ship, seemingly losing both it and his other passenger in the process. When Gaea goes missing, and something strange begins to affect their minds, the two just can’t seem to bring themselves to work together again and go their separate ways. This issue brings those plot threads back together in a surreal, shocking way that changes a great deal about both the book’s stars. Immonen writes with a certain effortless whimsy that could easily clash with the book’s more serious moments, but never does because it doesn’t feel like an affectation. This is a book about Norse gods and horse-faced aliens, there should be a certain tone of humor and mirth pervading the whole thing.
Valerio Schiti is on pencils and inks with Jordie Bellaire on colors, and this book, already underrated, has some of THE BEST art on the shelf thanks to these two. The art matches the writing to a tee with mellow, smooth linework and colors that cause a snap to attention when the action abruptly kicks in. This is one of the stranger locations we’ve seen in the Marvel Universe, but these two render it effortlessly (or at least with the ILLUSION of effortlessness) and even manage to match the simultaneous whimsy and seriousness that the writing calls for. Every panel breathes, there’s an incredible illusion of motion but also of LIFE. These pages feel real, which is no small feat considering how off the wall odd most of them are.
There are a lot of plot threads and obscure characters with strange names to keep track of. The book also calls upon a lot of what’s been going on behind the scenes in the Asgardia corner of Marvel, which isn’t the most well-travelled ground, so at times one may find oneself asking “Wait, who’s this again? Which one is this??” and the book moves at such a clip that this can be daunting.
It’s worthwhile to get to know these characters, because they’re being written in some of the most interesting, nuanced and subtle ways of any of their existences. This is a book that has it all: high drama, action, heartbreak, and a ton of humor to top it all off. It’s one of the most under-the-radar books in the Big Two’s arsenal and it absolutely deserves more recognition, if not higher sales. It's a book that takes some very usual genre conventions and applies them in a very unique, dynamic way to create something original out of something we've already seen.