(Profile #1 - the 1960s) (Part 1)
Marvel’s Lady Sif is traditionally Thor’s love interest. She first appeared in 1964, and slowly evolved into a character standing on her own.
This profile covers her vintage appearances during the 1960s. All these, plus her flashback appearances and what is known and hypothesised about her early life. And some wee bits of mythology.
To facilitate reading, this profile is now presented in two parts. The second part of 1960s Sif’s character profile is there.
- Real Name: Sif.
- Other Aliases: Lady Sif, Sif the Stunning, Dark-Haired Daughter of Asgard.
- Former Aliases: Sif the Golden-Haired.
- Marital Status: Single.
- Known Relatives: Heimdall (older brother). Balder once states that Sif is his sister, but he presumably meant sister-in-arms. A blonde woman who seems to be Sif’s mother is seen once in flashback, but nothing is known about her.
- Group Affiliation: Gods of Asgard (technically, the Asynjur).
- Base Of Operations: City of Asgard.
- Height: 6’1” Weight: 425 lbs.
- Eyes: Blue Hair: Jet black (formerly golden).
Powers & Abilities
As a goddess of Asgard , Sif is physically denser, more durable and much stronger (about “Class 20” at this point) than Humans. Asgardian physiology is also resistant to diseases and poisons.
She is a fully-trained Asgardian warrior, fighting primarily with an Asgardian steel broadsword. She’s also seen using javelins. She seems to be more technically proficient than most, but is not as large and strong as most male Asgardian warriors.
1960s Sif isn’t as good as the real elite, such as Hogun, Balder or Fandral. She can hold her own in ordinary battle, but against high-end opponents her role is more akin to cheerleading. At this point she’s very unlikely to be depicted as fighting (let alone beating) a man.
She has keen senses, is a good equestrienne, and is renowned for both her valour and her beauty.
She also can be quite persuasive. Provided that there’s a good argument to be made, and that somebody will listen to a woman in the first place.
Say the magic worlds
Sif has the magical power of flying ethereally between dimensions . She can take other people along with her by joining hands. However, it seems to require considerable effort and concentration, as she seldom uses this ability. One also suspects that it’s restricted to the Nine Worlds of Asgardian cosmology.
It seems to be a form of bodily astral projection. Sif (and any passenger) dematerialise and rapidly fly as ghosts to their destination, rematerializing when Sif chooses to.
Sif (and Balder) also have a sort of magical intuition. They can :
- Sense magical and unusual powers around them. Such as being in an area affected by a curse, near a being of great magical power, near a powerful and unusual being such as Adam Warlock, etc.. In practice this is mostly used so that they can make atmosphere-setting comments, for narrative purposes.
- Sense whether Thor is in peril, and whether he’s dead. This doesn’t always work, but it allows them to launch relief missions out of the blue when the plot calls for it.
To the days when the nights were young
The version of young Sif seen in more modern flashbacks is a more capable and flexible fighter.
She’s been seen fighting with paired shortswords, a single one-handed broadsword, or the heavy hand-and-a-half Asgardian sword. She’s also a deadly archer and spear maiden, and can throw a mean dagger.
This take on Sif seems to be one of the most technical young fighters in Asgard. Though at this point she is still lacking in experience and physical strength.
“Flashback Sif” is also more clearly a capable adventurer, and more clearly displays a layman’s knowledge of Asgardian magic.
Furthermore she is highly athletic and agile, with keen reflexes.
Woman, myth and magic
Sif is part of a tribe of near-immortal, superhuman beings. These live in the dimension of Asgard and are called “gods”. These have often visited Earth-616 . Tales about them formed the core of mythologies common in ancient Norse and Germanic areas of Europe.
However, the myths aren’t always accurate when it comes to depicting the Asgard tribals. And they vary considerably by nation and era.
For instance in the myths Sif and Thor raised the god Ull (or Ullr , either adopted, or from a previous marriage of Sif’s) and the goddess Þrúðr (Thrúd). This isn’t the case in the Asgard of the Marvel Universe.
In Sif’s case, avoiding confusion is easy. She doesn’t get much screen time in the Eddas .
- She seems to be a goddess of harvest and/or fertility (a bit like Demeter ).
- There’s the incident about her hair (more about that latter).
- Her son Ull was apparently important for ancient Norsemen but waned when their culture evolved.
And that’s it for the 101 version of Sif-in-the-Eddas, really.
Here’s some girl Viking (or “Viqueen”, as I insist on saying because I possess great wit) music for those who want.
Trollferd a Norwegian folk song, complete with trolls. It is sung here in pretty harmonics by Kari Rueslåtten (who used to front for Storm and The Third And The Mortal) and Liv Kristine (who used to front for Leaves’ Eyes).
Sif is roughly of the same age as Thor and Loki. In Human terms she seems one or two years younger, though it’s hard to tell given the immense Asgardian lifespans. Sif also stated that her brother Heimdall is older than she is by millennia.
Sif has been described as a noble of the realm. But that was never elaborated upon.
She apparently grew up in the rural areas surrounding the city of Asgard. When he first saw her there, Thor assumed that she was a shepherdess.
Centuries ago, a large pack of starving wolves grew bold. They attacked herds in Asgard’s pastoral hinterland. One hunter raised a posse to kill the wolves. But this man turned down Thor Odinson’s offer of help, since Thor was in Human terms 13-ish.
Trying to trick his half-brother into getting himself killed, Loki convinced Thor that they should go hunt for the wolves by themselves. Loki also gave Thor a sabotaged sword.
When she met Thor and Loki, little Sif was fending off attacking wolves with a staff. Thor bravely charged in. When his sword broke on the first blow Sif threw him her staff – since he was more exposed.
The two kids were badly outnumbered and would have perished. But Loki shot a flare-like spell to pretend that he was helping. As it happened the posse was close by. They came in in time to save Thor and Sif.
Hair of the god
Sif later came to live in the city of Asgard – perhaps to join her brother. She grew close to Thor and Balder, whose courage pleased her. But Sif always knew that Loki was a black-hearted menace, even though her buddies were forever blind to it.
She trained as a fighter along with them, and noted Hogun the Grim among her instructors. Sif was the only girl among the warriors-in-training until the foreign Brunnhilda enrolled.
When Sif was 13-ish, little Loki cut away her beautiful golden hair whilst she was sleeping. Relenting when he saw how devastated Sif was, Loki took the shorn hair to the trolls. They forged new hair for Sif.
However, after Loki placed the hair back on Sif’s head, they turned completely black. Sif resented this, as blonde hair are considered much more attractive in Asgard.
Interlude – continuity and mythology notes
Sif acquiring dark hair isn’t in the Eddas. “Fair-Haired Goddess” is one of her kennings . And “Hair of Sif” is a kenning for gold.
The account in the Skáldskaparmál reads (using the version at Sacred-Texts.com ) :
Loki Laufeyarson, for mischief’s sake, cut off all Sif’s hair. But when Thor learned of this, he seized Loki, and would have broken every bone in him, had he not sworn to get the Black Elves to make Sif hair of gold, such that it would grow like other hair. After that, Loki went to those dwarves who are called Ívaldi’s Sons; and they made the hair, and Skídbladnir also, and the spear which became Odin’s possession, and was called Gungnir.
The story goes on about other stuff getting forged. But the manely matter of Sif’s hair seems solved at that point.
Past accounts about the Marvel Universe incident state that the hair turn black as night because Loki didn’t properly pay the smiths. As a result, they sabotaged their creation (“for the price of naught, I shall forge from naught”). This isn’t mentioned in the more recent retelling, but is presumably still true.
Past Marvel accounts also state that the hair was forged by dwarven smiths Brokk and Eitri. While the more recent account has the smiths looking like trolls, one suspects this is due to a miscolouring.
Warriors, come out to play !
When Sif, Thor and Balder were 15-ish, Odin sent them on a quest to forge a mighty sword. The kids fought a dragon, met an eagle king, and braved the mines of Jennia.
They also fought during an invasion of Asgard by the armies of Nornheim. The youths’ early warnings were instrumental in the successful Asgardian defense.
During the war Karnilla, Queen of Nornheim, killed Thor with an arrow. But Sif’s tears mixed with a magical sand resurrected him.
The young fighting trio was then declared to be warriors of Asgard, as a distinction for valour. Still, they continued to attend warrior school.
As teen Sif struggled with her feelings for Thor, Loki and Amora (the future Enchantress) tricked her into stealing a magic mirror to make Thor fall in love with her. Amora then stole the mirror from Sif and used it on Thor first.
However, Sif allied with the new girl at school, Brunnhilda. Together they shattered the mirror and thus the enchantment. At the advice of Frigga — Thor’s adoptive mother — Sif then started a romance with Thor.
When Sif, Thor and Balder were still teenagers, three mighty storm giants attacked the city. These routed the garrison and captured Sif. The giants had been sent by Hela, who hated young Sif ever since she had taken Thor from her by resurrecting him.
With Sif in deadly peril, Thor unthinkingly lifted Mjolnir — which he had always failed to do before — to come to her help. This allowed Sif and Thor to face Hela. Hela. Hela. Heh. Heh. Heh (video).
Thor offered his life for Sif’s, since they were clearly outmatched. Hela took the deal but couldn’t bring herself to kill him. Thus, the young lovers returned to Asgard. By offering to sacrifice his life to save another’s, Thor had become worthy of wielding the hammer.
A few months later, Sif was with a team that won an arena match. The three men on the team went to a bar to celebrate, but they thoughtlessly picked a “gentlemen only” bar (for specific values of “gentlemen”). Thus, Sif was refused entry.
Angered, Sif got into a row. But Odin himself came in. He had all the men at the inn kneel to acknowledge her as one of the champs. Sif was then let in, apparently establishing yet another precedent in the exclusively masculine Asgardian warrior culture.
Interlude – more continuity notes
In the earliest germane Marvel flashback, Thor and Sif are young adults when they start their relationship (rather than teenagers). And Sif still has long golden hair when Thor rescues her from Hela. It is only after the rescue, and Thor becoming worthy of Mjolnir, that Loki shears her hair.
In this early version, Sif is depressed by her changed coal-like capillary colouration. But Thor finds her more beautiful than ever, lifting her spirits.
In the version of continuity that existed in 1967, Thor had not seen a 20-something Sif ever since she was a little girl. So the age difference is greater – but it’s probably not significant for near-immortal Asgardians.
Warrior of Asgard
However, Thor gradually developed an hubris problem and drifted away from his friends. Eventually, Odin the All-Father banished Thor to Midgard as crippled physician Don Blake in a successful bid to teach him humility.
Meanwhile, Sif reportedly left the city of Asgard for years for advanced martial training. This *may* have taken place in far southern Ringsfjord, since she was familiar with these lands.
Sif returned to Asgard while Thor was still banished. Her brother Heimdall then warned her that a quest Odin had sent Balder on was probably a trap set by Loki. Heimdall was right – Loki had tricked Balder into carrying some golden apples of Idunn into a frost giant ambush.
Sif intervened. She and Balder thus survived the ambush, but had to hide in a cave to lose the giants.
This is how they stumbled upon a sabotage attempt by an agent of Set. The nefarious Egyptian divinity had released hundreds of rats to gnaw on the roots of the World Tree. Sif had Balder chase the rats away with his magic light while she fought Set. While she killed him for a time, he mortally wounded her in return.
Balder saved Sif’s life by having her eat one of the magical apples he was carrying.
By 1967, both Thor and Sif were back in the city of Asgard.
During his time in Midgard, Thor had fallen in love with a nurse named Jane Foster. He wanted her to live with him in Asgard. However, Odin heavy-handedly proved that she lacked the mental fortitude. The All-Father then sent Ms. Foster back to a new life on Earth with another man.
Odin then arranged for Thor to be reunited with Sif, to highlight how much more suited she was to him. Though Thor’s memories of his life in Asgard still seemed hazy after his exile as another person, he did recognise her.
Thor and Sif began dating, but King Geirrodur sent a large horde of trolls after her. The plan was to lure Thor away to Midgard and kill him while he was in his vulnerable form. Meanwhile, a troll army was poised to invade Asgard. Both Sif and Thor’s hammer Mjolnir were captured, seemingly dooming Asgard.
However, Sif returned Thor to Asgard, where he could shed his Human form. The pair attacked the trolls, reclaimed Mjolnir, and deprived their enemy of the all-powerful alien backing their offensive. This saved Asgard.
As Thor returned to his Midgard life for a time, he left Sif behind as he was vaguely considering reuniting with Jane Foster. This did not take place, and Thor and Sif became an item. However, almost all of their relationship occurred off-panel . Sif did not usually accompany Thor on Midgard.
Whilst Thor was in Midgard, Sif joined Balder in locating the mighty Enchanters in the far South of Asgard. The duo confronted the Enchanters (the brothers Magnir, Forsung and Brona) and were nearly killed. However, Sif saved herself and Balder by using her transdimensional travel power.
Sif went to enlist Thor’s help. The trio defeated Magnir and Brona after Forsung absorbed all of the Enchanters’ power within himself to wage an unsuccessful duel against Odin.
Odin then recalled Sif and Balder. However, he also left Thor stranded powerless on Earth for disobeying his orders.
The cunning Loki
Sif and Balder fruitlessly supplicated Odin to recall Thor. Ultimately, they broke ranks to save Thor’s life from Loki’s machinations.
The authoritarian Odin depowered Sif, Balder and Loki as well as Thor. He left them all stuck in New York City. This exile lasted but hours, as Sif and Balder were shunted back to Asgard by the Wrecker (Dirk Garthwaite).
Sif and Balder tried to convince Odin that Thor was in grave danger. But the scrying crystal monitoring events on Midgard had been stolen. The pair deduced Loki was the culprit. They rode to Nornheim to recover the crystal from his ally Karnilla.
By the time they arrived, Thor had apparently been slain. However, Karnilla offered Sif the chance to take control of the Destroyer armour and rush to his aid.
This profile is continued in part #2 !
Source of Character: Marvel comics from 1967 to 1971, plus the later flashbacks about Sif’s youth. Our arbitrary breakpoint is Thor #191 (cover-dated August 1971) since it’s the next-to-last Stan Lee-penned issue.
Helper(s): Darci, Quintanad, Jackson, Chris Cottingham, Ethan Roe, Pawsplay.
Writeup completed on the 14th of August, 2014.