One series that we probably don't talk enough about (but that has been consistently good) has been JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY. For a while, this series had followed the adventures of young Loki but has since shifted it's premise starting with the release of issue #646. It is there that we saw the introduction of Lady Sif's adventures, something that has certainly been a great deal of fun to read. And although Lady Sif doesn't have her very own self-titled series, it has been a pleasure seeing her take over JOURNEY throughout the course of the last few months in a stellar story written by writer Kathryn Immonen. Reading this most recent arc really got us thinking: Sif is a pretty fantastic character, but does she get the recognition she deserves? Does Lady Sif deserve (and demand!) more respect? We definitely think so. In fact, in a fight, we bet she could kick just about anyone's butt. Probably.
Lady Sif The Fearsome Fighter
Sif was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and made her very first appearance in JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #102, which is why seeing her take over the current series in Immonen's fun-filled story makes so much sense -- it is, after all, the volume where she first got her start. The Marvel heroine was based on the Nordic character of the same name, and was initially written pretty one dimensionally: her primary purpose was to act as the love interest for Thor, even after Thor had very obviously moved on to other ladies (Jane Foster, for example).
Although Lady Sif may have started off as a lady solely after the "God Of Thunder's" heart, she certainly evolved over the years. The character has since grown to be more than just the girl Thor occasionally has the hots for, she is her own woman and a warrior in her own right. In her youth, Lady Sif would often accompany Thor, Balder and Loki on adventures to defeat Surtur, Mangog, Wrecker and many more. As a child, Sif was sent away by her family to join the Asgardian Shield Maidens; a group of women who dedicated their lives to being warriors. She learned how to fight and to do battle, and although there have been many instances where she has proven herself to be this great warrior, it wasn't until the most recent JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY series that we saw just how fearsome a warrior she really is.
In JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #648 we see the motivation behind Lady Sif's character: the only thing she wants is to protect Asgard. She notes that fighting a battle for Asgard and to protect Asgard isn't really winning; it isn't a victory, not if you have to continue to fight over and over again. This realization leads her to visit the Witch Aerndis, and in this scene that follows Sif gets more than she originally bargained for.
JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #648 demonstrates Sif's capabilities as a fearsome warrior. In a very graphic scene, we witness Sif succumb to a "berserker rage" where the character is driven mad with fury in the heat of battle. It is a great scene because it emphasizes her capabilities as a warrior; not only is she powerful, but she can be ruthless if necessary. Later, in issue #650 of the series in question, Sif begs the question of whether or not it was really her that was that powerful, or whether it was some magic trick.
Aerndis replies to this by saying, "Enchantments are most often for the weak-hearted and the simple minded. The only thing I gave you was permission." Meaning that the strength Sif found was always inside of her, Aerndis simply unlocked her already inherent abilities.
The Capable Leader
Sif has also demonstrated her abilities as a leader in the current JOURNEY series. Up until issue #650 of the comic Sif was leading a trio of three Asgardian warriors: Einhar, Bodvar and Svip. Here she deals with what happens when they don't obey her and respect her as a leader, and she demonstrates exactly how to deal with those that refuse to fall into the line of her command. It's a great moment that really showcases her abilities not only as a fighter, but as a leader who refuses to back down.
The Compassionate Warrior
As mentioned above, Sif has a clear and distinct vision for the kind of warrior she is and what goals she has in mind. In the above scene from JOURNEY #646, Sif wonders whether the continuous fighting and winning of battles are actual victories for Asgard if there continue to be more fights in the end. She asks "can we [Asgard] not be stronger still to prevent the fight in the first place?" It's a logical question and one that demonstrates her clear vision for the kind of place she wants Asgard to be. Every great leader needs a vision, after all, an end game if you will; and it is clear that Sif has that.
However, her goals are ultimately not those of a person lacking character: her goals are a hope for a better home. She demonstrates compassion by expressing her desire not only to end the battles in Asgard, but also when she shields a young boy from the violence all around him (JOURNEY #646), ultimately conserving his innocence. Lady Sif the protector of the innocent is the very first image of her that we see when this story arc was launched, and that speaks volumes. Her compassion is clearly at the very core of this series and is one reason why she stands out as a character.
Sif is a unique character who started as a love interest for Thor and has, since the Silver Age, grown into a beautifully compassionate warrior and a character we don't see enough of. You can see her kicking all kinds of major butt in the current JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY series. What do you think of Sif?