Best Shots Advance Review: Marvel NOW! JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY

 

Journey Into Mystery #646

Written by Kathryn Immonen

Art by Valerio Schiti and Jordie Bellaire

Lettering by Clayton Cowles

Published by Marvel Comics

Review by David Pepose

'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10

She's a black-haired beauty from a race of immortals, slaying monsters of myth with a strength and fortitude that is unmatched by mere male machismo. But slow your roll before you start bringing out the Lasso of Truth — I haven't been talking about Wonder Woman.

I'm talking about Sif.

Who, you ask? Are we talking about that supporting character from Thor, the one who had only a couple of lines in that blockbuster Marvel movie? Yeah, Kathryn Immonen has something to say about that. This transformation isn't going to happen overnight — Immonen knows that, which is why this comic is all about making a better Sif. But ultimately, it's not the destination that really matters — it's all about the Journey Into Mystery.

 

Unlike the sort of dual-identity or diplomatic angst that occasionally plagues Wonder Woman, Sif comes continuity and alter ego-free — and Immonen uses that to her advantage. Sif is constantly diving into the fray, and the naval-gazing is kept to a minimum. (That's also to Immonen's advantage — the few talky scenes do slow down the comic considerably, partially because the problems that are introduced don't feel particularly organic, and partially because of the clunky Asgardian font that letterer Clayton Cowles is forced to use.) No, Sif is at her best when she's in combat, where her actions speak louder than her words. At first, it endears us to the character… but by the end, something even more sinister may be afoot. Ultimately, I'm not sure if Immonen does quite enough to sell us on the character, but at the very least we're on the right track.

The art, however, bears some serious watching. You probably haven't heard of Valerio Schiti, but I think that'll change soon enough. Schiti reminds me a little bit of David Lafuente, with a very cartoony, expressive style that is high-energy and high on endearing traits. Whether its leaping across a fiery chasm or swinging a sword towards a spectral intruder, this book looks far smoother than it has any right to be. Occasionally Schiti has some hiccups with the composition — for example, Sif doesn't get much of an introductory shot in the book's opening, more of a distance panel instead — but for a relatively unknown name, this is good stuff. Colorist Jordie Bellaire also adds a ton of energy to this book, deviating from the garish Dean White norm of the Marvel NOW! era with a more traditional style, with strong reds working nicely with nightmarish, ghastly greens.

For those hoping that Journey Into Mystery would transcend its sleeper status, well, you'll probably have to think again — and to be honest, Immonen and Schiti probably have an even more uphill battle to climb than Kieron Gillen did with Loki, given that Sif doesn't have the mischievousness, the cuteness or the billion-dollar movie behind her that the God of Mischief did. But there's a nice gung-ho girl-power spirit here, following in the footsteps of Kelly Sue DeConnick and Captain Marvel, and with some truly effective art, there's no telling to what heights this Journey Into Mystery might take us. 

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