Monday, April 26, 2010

Sif #1 Review

As a continuation of their Women of Marvel celebrations, this week saw the release of a one shot centering around Sif. For those not in the know, Sif is an Asgardian warrior and as a character she has often appeared in the pages of Thor comics, often acting as a love interest to the God of Thunder. This issue is written by Kelly Sue DeConnick and illustrated by Ryan Stegman. Hit the jump to see my review of it.

Sif #1

Written by Kelly Sue DeConnick
Art by Ryan Stegman

The story opens with Lady Sif living a very un-lady like life, as she decided to settle to live in the city of Broxton, as opposed to the mighty halls of Asgard. The opening scene deals with her reminiscing about old scars (very Lethal Weapon), and how far she has fallen from her glory days, and much of that was caused by Loki, who took over her body in the pages of the Thor title. As a matter of fact, DeConnick introduces this and it becomes a recurring theme, as Sif imagines at certain points during the story that Loki is attempting to take over her body again. Being imprisoned and locked outside of her body has left a big psychological scar on Sif, but it is handled aptly, without turning her into just another victim.

Luckily for Sif, a mission emerges for her, in the form of Beta Ray Bill (incredibly rendered by Stegman) who comes looking for the aid of Thor. Bill's sentient spaceship Skuttlebutt (seriously, it's called that) has been taken over by some parasitic aliens, and locked everyone's favorite spacehorse out of the ship. Thor is unavailable so it is up to Sif to aid Bill, a mission to help take her mind off her current situation through the therapy of battle. Thrown into the mix is a scene that introduces some awkward moments for Sif and Bill, who were an item in the past, because Bill has recently met another Korbinite, Ti Asha Ra. I didn't even know that Sif and Bill had a relationship in the past, but DeConnick made it abundantly clear through the scene, without spelling it out for the readers.

Sif gathers her battle armor and travels to the spaceship to battle the foes that have taken over it. It is basically a parasitic virus that has taken over some random space pirates, though once it reached the sentient spaceship, it was threatening to infect that too. The villains of this piece are suitably creepy, Stegman draws them looking diseased without appearing like your every day zombies, and there is a sense of infection and unchecked growth in them. The fact that they take over minds ties in with Loki's previous invasion of Sif's body, and though I enjoyed it, I can see how some readers might see it as too convenient. Sif must battle them with the constant threat that her mind might be taken again.

In the end, Sif perseveres and Skuttlebutt is saved, her pride as a warrior is restored, though her thirst for vengeance against Loki grows more abundant. While the conclusion is satisfactory in my mind, it was a bit sudden, like it could have used more pages but found itself restrained by the length of the book.

I found myself wanting to read more pages from this creative team, as Stegman's clean and expressive art is well suited to both the space action scenes as well as the quiet moments in Broxton. He draws Sif as obviously attractive but without relying to cheap butt shots or making her armor skin tight so that you could see every muscle in her body, a trap that many other artists quickly fall to. While in battle mode, Sif comes across as confident and skilled, though when the tables turn on her, we can see the desperation in her body language.

DeConnick made me care about this character, understand what motivates her and what she fears, in the span of twenty two pages, and it makes me wonder what she could do with more space to tell bigger stories.  I also enjoyed the interactions with Beta Ray Bill a whole lot, which showed that DeConnick has a clear understanding of how to handle different characters with distinct voices, with some great lines thrown into the script, of which "They mean to take you alive" was probably my favorite. 

Verdict - Buy It. The creative team works well together, and while an ongoing series may be unreasonable, I would love to see a mini series centering around Sif, or maybe as a complimentary back up tale to the Thor title. There were a few missteps, but this is still a great book. The world of Asgard in the Marvel universe is as vibrant as it has ever been, and this Sif one-shot is a fine addition to the mythos.

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Ryan K Lindsay said...

Down here in Australia, because of that infernal volcano, we didn't get our comics last week, and we're just coming out the ass end of a long weekend, so they don't ship in until this week so I have had to wait to get my hands on this issue but I can't wait to get it. It sounds really awesome, de Connick has some interesting ideas, and Stegman is rocking the business as usual (and it's nice to say that his art is already at that USUAL awesome standard).

I will also say that I regularly agree with Matt on comics, he's a reviewer that I've always trusted and appreciated. For context on this addended comment feel free to read the forum brewing on the previous post about Kick-Ass.

Anonymous said...

Wouldnt books be printed in Australia Ryan? Or at least shipped from west coast America?

Frank said...

I was fairly impressed by this issue as well. I actually had to do a double-take on the artist credits there at the start, Stegman's style came across to me as a cleaner Arthur Adams with less hatch work :D

I've always wanted to see more Sif-centric stories as she's a much stronger female character than many of the current heroines in the Marvel Universe. Hopefully this sells well and we can at least get a mini-series.

Matt Ampersand said...

@Frank: Yeah, Stegman's art is a bit different this time around from some of his other work. I couldn't tell you exactly what it is, but I enjoyed it very much.

As for the shipping question, I guess it would depend from what Diamond warehouse this thing would leave from? Both Marvel and DC books are printed in Canada, but they wouldn't ship directly from there.

Ivan said...

I'm a bit freaked out that Sif and Bill were an item, for a variety of reasons. Well, at least she also not human, I guess...

Steven said...

The Bill/Sif thing has always been based on the fact the she is Thor's beloved, which automatically made her Bill's beloved as well once he picked up the hammer and was transformed. She left Asgard to travel with Bill back during Simonson's classic run.

As Beta Ray Bill, he is essentially Thor.

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