Answer me one question. One single, solitary question. Why was this book not rebranded with the rest of Marvel NOW? We may never get a straight answer, nor may we ever know if this book’s fading sales were the cause of, or caused by, this lack of rebranding, but whatever the reason, it is a tragedy that this book is coming to an end. Kathryn Immonen took the helm awhile back, but she only recently turned it into a book starring the Asgardian warrior Sif, but she also transformed it into a light-hearted romp that was as much fun to read as it was to look at. Sif is joined by Beta Ray Bill as they try to steer Tony Stark’s garden in space and prevent it from causing massive damage when it smashes to Earth. Meanwhile, Ti Asha Ra, the OTHER last Korbinite possesed by Bill’s ship Skuttlebutt’s AI, is trapped by Gaea the All-Mother. If all that sounds like a bit much, don’t worry: Immonen imbues all of these characters with an enormous amount of heart and a razor-sharp wit that never turns mean-spirited. This book has always had a tremendous amount of great banter, but no one ever felt disadvantaged by it and it was never without at least a grain of affection. This issue goes out on that tone and tenor with Bill being hard-headed, but never stupid, and Sif being irritated, but never arrogant.
Valerio Schiti is a name I hope to hear more of in the very near future as his pencils and inks on this book have been nothing short of stellar each and every issue he’s done. I hadn’t even heard of him until I started reading this book, and he apparently has quite a new career, but it’s one that I can’t wait to see more of as he brings an amazing level of detail, both character and background, to every single panel. I don’t know how he manages, but there are no corners cut and every character looks absolutely great. The facial expressions and subtle ticks he puts into his panels are truly a sight to behold, particularly in a book with as much quipping and banter as this one has. The linework is also smooth, but distinct, giving everything a very warm and inviting look, even in the cold vacuum of space. Jordie Bellaire finishes on colors and fortunately, she’s already got plenty more work lined up because her colors sing on the page. This issue, about life and greenery and spaaaace definitely needed a colorist that could make the imagery explode off the page, and that’s exactly what Bellaire delivers. There’s a nuance to the coloring that’s hard to pin down, but I’d honestly have a hard time seeing anyone else’s work filling in Schiti’s lines, these two work brilliantly together.
There won’t be any more issues after this one! That’s certainly my main complaint, but another is that the dialog is sometimes ponderous and hard to follow, making the overall plot hard to follow. There are also times when it feels very, very rushed, making me wonder if there was supposed to be another issue, but it was called at a nice round 5.
Even with the plot a little obfuscated at times, this issue, and this book, have been a joy to read and a thrill to experience. Immonen, thankfully, has a couple of projects lined up, but I’d love to see her on another Marvel book, preferably one that got the kind of promotion that seems to be helping Captain Marvel soar (of course, the amazing creative team on that one is a big part of it too) as a new title. It’s rare to see a creative team that so perfectly work off of one another with Schiti’s amazing faces perfectly conveying Immonen’s rapier wit and Bellaire’s colors making both the lines and the writing come to life. There are a lot of heady concepts in this book, but at its heart is, well, an awful lot of heart, and that’s what makes it, ultimately, worth a look. When this is released in trade, I can’t recommend it enough and, of course, if you’ve been reading, you HAVE to pick this one up. It’s what Sif would want!