Sif and her berserker variation of the Warriors Three -- Einhar, Bodvar and Svip -- are turned loose in New York City through the work of writer Kathryn Immonen and artist Valerio Schiti in the pages of "Journey Into Mystery" #649. The effects of their presence spreads throughout Midgard as a number of beasts from the Isle of Exile materialize or reawaken. Immonen provides wonderful smile-inducing entertaining scenes with characters from Marvel's past such as Rorgg, Gomdulla, Emperor of Mars, Spragg, Goliath and Rro. The Rro scene is especially comical, adding more levity to a comic that is refreshingly amusing despite the astonishing amount of fighting with sharp weapons.
Immonen uses the location of New York as an opportunity to include an appearance from the Superior Spider-Man, which the writer then spins into even more comedy as Rorgg, King of the Spider-Men, raises havoc while the Superior Spider-Man tries to determine the best measure for working with Sif. In addition to the wall-crawler, the various monstrosities across the Marvel Universe allow Immonen to stretch her repertoire a bit, employing characters for single page cameos that add a fair bit of grace and charm to "Journey Into Mystery" #649.
Valerio Schiti is quite the find for Marvel NOW! and a perfect match for both the characters involved and Immonen's story. The monsters are instantly classic and comical, intimidating and entertaining. Sif is bold and beautiful without being overly busty or prone to cheesecake poses. Her expressions tell the tale as much as her words, which carry the Asgardian tone Marvel has established and that Clayton Cowles executes to perfection. Sif's expressions aren't the only storytelling devices Schiti employs. Despite being fully masked, Spider-Man's expressions and attitude are fully apparent; a random passerby is stunned enough to drop his keys at the carnage on the street; and the Broxton Sporting and Social Club has a rerun of the "Mighty Thor" cartoon from the 1960s on the television in the background. The last example might be the handiwork of colorist Jordie Bellaire, whose Bifrost Bridge is nothing short of dazzling. Bellaire's colors throughout the issue are bright and strong and she helps round out this creative team to perfection.
I gave "Journey Into Mystery" a shot when it was branded with Marvel NOW!, looking for another offbeat title that wasn't going to require a multitude of tie-in titles to complete the larger picture and I certainly got more than I bargained for. While "Journey Into Mystery" #649 might not be the best place for readers to start, they could certainly do much worse. Immonen and crew have crafted a wonderful story with strong characters and gorgeous art and this issue is a wonderful love-letter to everything this classic Marvel title is all about: monsters, myths and adventure. I'm hoping this team stays intact beyond next issue's conclusion to this storyline, they've certainly earned it.