Fist Against Bone
Journey Into Mystery #647-648
Written by Kathryn Immonen
Illustrated by Valerio Schiti
Colored by Jordie Bellaire
Lettered by Clayton Cowles
The Lady Sif, seeking an edge in battle, visits the sorceress Aerndis to learn the secrets of the berserkers. Power comes with a prince, though — Sif becomes mightier, but also dangerous and unstable. When her rage becomes unontrollable, Heimdall is forced to step in and banish her to a dimenson where the last of the berserkers are locked in eternal battle with monsters that might have been. Unfortunately, in doing so he has inadvertently given those monsters a pathway back to the real world...
Somehow I missed the first issue of this storyline, but I didn't realize it until I was reading the letters page of Journey Into Mystery #648. It's a testament to Kathryn Immonen's writing that I had no problem jumping into the middle of a story and immediately grasping what was going on.
This is almost everything I'm looking for in a superhero comic. It's got an easy-to-understand story, one or two ongoing subplots, big fights, jokes, and character dynamics that add some spice to some well-worn story beats. Heck, Immonen even manages to work in a Spider-Man guest shot in such a way that I'm actually excited to see what will happen instead of just rolling my eyes.
Is this a comic for the ages? Probably not. But it's damn entertaining and sometimes that's all you need.
All of the Marvel NOW! books I've picked up seem to have the same feel — detailed artwork, technical-pen style inking, maybe a bit too stiff for its own good, with simpler coloring than usual. Valerio Schiti seems to be working comfortably in this new house style, but has some excellent storytelling chops that make this book a treasure to read.
I love the slashing rhythm created by Sif's sword, mimicked by the panel structure. Left, right, left; down, up, down, up, pause, up, down; left, right. It really helps convey the unrelenting savagery of her assault, and even the pause in the middle has great comic timing. Sif is actually doing something in each panel.
Even the colors help out. Sif's red-and-black color scheme starts to blur with the monster's orange-and-blue, to the point where it's hard to tell which one is the monster and which one is the hero. Subtle.
The only thing I don't like? The manga-style radiating speed lines, which aren't inked heavily enough to convey any energy and wind up getting lost in the shuffle as a result. Besides, if you're going to add that touch to a Thor book, Sinnot-style crowquill starbursts are what's called for.