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The bizarre backstory of Lady Sif

By Sara Century
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With rumors swirling that Lady Sif could be returning to the MCU in Thor: Love and Thunder after too long an absence, we’ve been thinking — who is Sif? Of course, we know she’s the Odinson’s on-again-off-again ex, but what makes her tick?

Despite being one of Thor’s most prominent allies since her first appearance way back in Journey Into Mystery #102, Lady Sif is seldom the focus of the stories she appears in. For a lot of readers, she is a bit of an enigma, skirting the edges of Thor’s existence, dipping in occasionally to play a part as his primary love interest, only to dip back out again, ad nauseum, over her 50+ year history. Yet, our girl has developed a heck of a fanbase in her time, and she’s never away from the Thor comics for long, so what is Sif’s deal?

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Asgardian Beginnings

Thor’s early years have been revisited in some detail — not just in his main title but in spin-offs like the Tales of Asgard series. We know that Sif is Heimdall’s sister and that she grew up alongside Thor and the others. Surrounded by brash, lowkey annoying young guys, Sif strove to become the best at pretty much everything. Indeed, her sense of pride is often her downfall, but the same could be said of the crush of her life, Thor. The two of them fell in love, and everything was going pretty well until Odin decided to teach Thor his famous first lesson in humility, and Thor was banished to Earth. On Earth, he met the other love of his life, Jane Foster, and that put a damper on his relationship with Sif for a while.

However, when Jane failed the test that would have allowed her to remain at Thor’s side in Asgard, Thor found himself single once more, and he and Sif rekindled their romance. Still, Lady Sif is at her absolute best when she’s allowed to shine as a warrior and strategist. Even when she was regularly fighting at Thor’s side, her best scenes are when she is separated from him for whatever reason and has to come up with her own way out of peril. Of all Thor’s supporting cast, Sif is the sharpest and the most impossible to sway, and that’s why she’s one of his best allies whether or not they’re in a relationship. Thor’s tenderness with Sif is always apparent, and the only times he has spoken harshly to or of her were to indicate to readers that he had lost his way.

When Odin dies (temporarily) and Thor takes the throne — causing timelines to diverge due to bringing Asgard to Earth and becoming a dictator over both realms — Lady Sif is the person who stands against him. He banishes her quickly, unwilling to have her present and judging his bad choices, but Sif waits and utilizes his and Amora’s son against him. Sif, who has known the Odinson since early childhood, is the only person who can truly appeal to him. She might do it by throwing his lack of morality back in his face, but it gets done.

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For the Love of Sif

Sif’s romantic life is interesting because it is such a secondary concern for her. While so many female characters in comics and media are defined by their love interests, Sif is defined by her desire to become a better warrior, and her love interests reflect that. Only men who have proven worthy of wielding Mjolnir have been interesting to her, so her list of attractions is essentially limited to Thor and the Korbinite Beta Ray Bill. We stan a career woman, and Sif’s interest in her self-improvement as a defining characteristic is a big part of why fans love her.

Her relationship with Thor is something that has caused her a lot of stress in the stories she’s appeared in. Thor’s love for Jane Foster has troubled Sif, but it’s easy to understand why he can love them both, as they both are brave heroes that are capable of standing alongside him in battle. For Sif, as with Jane, and as with Thor himself, honor is the most important thing, and in their individual quests striving towards it, they are often separated only to be reunited once more. That this is obviously a throuple made in Heaven (Asgard) generally goes unmentioned, but is driven home by the fact that Sif and Jane have, often enough, actually shared a consciousness. That said, while Sif and Jane are incredibly similar, their upbringings couldn’t be more different. Jane grew up on Earth, while Sif was raised as a warrior on Asgard alongside Thor and Balder, the latter of whom has harbored an unrequited crush on her for millennia.

Sif is also interesting because despite how easy it would be for writers to cast her in the role of “the jealous woman,” Sif never plays that game. She looks out for other women. When Jane Foster is on her deathbed, Sif willingly merges their consciousness to save her life. When Brunnhilde dies, Sif carries the Valkyrie’s sword to honor her fallen friend. Even Amora and Lorelei, who annoy her to no end, are people she still treats with the utmost honor. Sif is pretty much the coolest.

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Journey Into Mystery

At the end of Kieron Gillen’s epic focus on Loki in Journey Into Mystery, which lasted several story arcs and helped rejuvenate interest in the details of the bizarre, pseudo-Norse mythology of Asgard, the focus shifted to Lady Sif over the last handful of issues of the series. The creative team of Kathryn Immonen, Valerio Schiti, and Jordie Bellaire continued the general creative themes of Gillen’s JiM — madcap magic, dark humor, and a central character struggling to better themselves - but shifted the focus to our girl Sif. This part of JiM is incredibly underrated, despite being short-lived, because it not only followed up one of the most successful Thor-adjacent runs of all time with no dip in quality but also gave us a deeper look at a character we never see quite enough of. In this, Sif’s status as a loner among the Gods of Asgard becomes the central focus, and her most interesting relationship is with the outsider, Beta Ray Bill. Their seemingly mismatched love affair doesn’t go anywhere in this series, but the tenderness between them is clear, and it’s a side of Sif that we don’t see very often. The series might end a little bit too soon to achieve the legendary status of Gillen’s run, but it’s definitely worth reading and it might well stand as the best Sif story ever told at present.

Lady Sif is pretty underrated as Marvel characters go because Thor comics tend to be just that much more entertaining when she’s around. However, it’s possible she has yet to see her best era. Her sparse team-ups with Brunnhilde and Beta Ray have been beyond epic, and a lot of readers look back fondly on her long-running, on-again-off-again affair with Thor. As for where she’s going to go from here, that’s a little more difficult to say, but we hope it involves her at the forefront of more epic solo stories — she’s earned them.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author's, and do not necessarily reflect those of SYFY WIRE, SYFY, or NBC Universal.

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