Valhalla Bound – The New Valkyrie

So, you know in my review of the latest War of the Realms issue I went on a tangent on how we, superhero nerds and like, nerds in general, tend to try and theorise what will happen and dissect past stories and every detail like a puzzle?

Hahaha.

I rarely feel so so smug about getting something- to use a British phrase- bang on the money, but on this occasion I am so smug I can out-smug Piers Morgan.

I have the tweets to prove it (from my Let’s Talk account!)

One thing that’s really puzzling is why they dropped this so early. War of the Realms #2 had barely been out, surely that was not enough time for people to absorb what happened in that issue before revealing what will come next?

I read the issue as soon as it came out on Comixology- at about 8:30am (I’m a parent, I haven’t slept in past 9am for over a decade) and the reveal of Jane as a Valkyrie came a mere twelve hours later. That seems a little rushed to me, so people hadn’t even had a chance to catch up with the issue before the news was dropped! It was probably only us Europeans who had a chance to read and digest War of the Realms #2 who got to like, experience the reveal as intended?

But what do I know?

Anyway, as the current world’s most obnoxious Jane Foster stan, how did I take this news?

Oh. Y’know. Very well. I was definitely chill about it.

I certainly didn’t weird out little old ladies as I grinned like a lunatic all day, whilst taking my daughter out on a trip to our local pier and arcades. I was totally normal and not act overly-hyper-manically-happy all day.

Nope.

Not at all.

WINGS

I am a terrible liar obviously. I was ridiculously happy and still am. The more I think about it, the happier I am. Her look, first off, is amazing. The little details that throw back to her Thor look- the helmet, the gauntlet? The wings? The new weapon, Undrjarn, looks cool as hell (I’m thinking they’ve reconstituted Mjolnir somehow… given the hint at the end of Thor issue #11)!

OMG SHE HAS WINGS?! FYI this look was designed by Russell Dauterman and he has knocked it out of the park, following the tradition* of the artist from the previous Jason Aaron Thor run designing the new outfit.

Do I have some reservations? Yeah, obviously, mostly relating to being a little bummed out that Jane’s probably not going to be Thor again like… maybe ever? That sucks, not going to lie, but it was never meant to be the status quo and the ticking clock on her time as Thor was part of what made her run so good. That sense of impending tragedy- without it, I’m not sure wider audiences would’ve connected to Jane in quite the same way. Will that affect her time as Valkyrie?

Jane’s not only free of cancer but, and this is just me theorising here, I think she’s going to become Asgardian, like, permanently? Maybe? We also know she’s going to be tasked with transporting the dead to Valhalla, which given her whole adult life was spent trying to save lives as a nurse then a doctor, is going to be interesting. How will she square that? I’m certainly down to see how that plays out.

My take is that the reason they’re not making her Thor again is maybe because Aaron’s wrapping up his time as Thor and moving on- meaning whoever is writing Thor next is free to stick to original flavoured dude!Thor. I would’ve liked to have seen two Thors together ala two Hawkeyes, but that’s probably not on the cards. I kind of pity whoever’s doing Thor after Aaron because… that’ll be a tough act to follow. Will they cross over with Jane’s Valkyrie? Who knows, though I feel that’s way more likely.

The more controversial aspect to this is… well, again, spoiler for War of the Realms– Brunhilde and the other Valkyries are brutally killed in battle with Malaketh. Jane’s named All Mother, but is too horrified by the scenes of slaughter in New York to notice.


I’m guessing this’ll feed into her becoming Valkyrie- taking on a responsibility again- though unlike being Thor, Valkyries have a job. Thor is a name and a title, it comes with expectations, but the Valkyries have a specific sacred duty. This is going to be an underpinning of the whole story according to Al Ewing- who is co-writing the series with Jason Aaron.

‘It’s a sacred task, and brings additional abilities — and responsibilities — of its own. As the first of a new generation of Valkyries, Jane has to decide for herself what that task involves, and that’s a big part of what we’ll be exploring in this series. If you’re reading this, you know who Valkyrie is, but what she is is one of the big philosophical underpinnings of the book.’

From Marvel.com

What about Brunhilde?

People were understandably upset about her death and I’m not going to lie, I was a little… guilty? No that’s wrong- weary about people’s feelings. It was a pretty shocking death, not an easy feat in comics these days. It’s cold comfort to reassure people about how death is pretty much a non-issue in comics. It’s the principle and I totally get it. Believe me.

Brunhilde’s one of the few outwardly bi characters in comics and seeing her killed and replaced is… not cool. Plus the future of her human identity, Annabelle, is now called into question. With the end of Asgardians of the Galaxy and Brunhilde now becoming something of a spirit mentor (aiding Jane make a new generation of Valkyries), I can completely understand people being upset. The general buzz as far as I can tell, has been positive- but the dissenting voices (aside from boring comic dude bros who can be roundly ignored) also brought up something else; synergy.

MCU Synergy

The comics made in the aftermath of the MCU are at least keeping a close eye on it and there’s some influence between the two, but by and large they’re not too similar. Obviously. There’s a privaling thought out there that this new Valkyrie comic is meant to capitalise on the success of Tessa Thompson’s version of Brunhilde in the MCU. Only, if this is the case (I don’t think it is myself and I’ll get to why), why did they decide to kill off Brunhilde when it was her character people liked?

Well, okay, so I don’t think there was much thought towards ‘synergy’ here. Obviously it’d be ideal if the movies helped drive comic book sales, but for one thing, the movies are based on comics at least five years old. If you, say, wanted to read something similar to Ragnarok, you’d go to a comic book shop and ask the owner for the comics is was loosely based on (Planet Hulk and Ragnarok). But that’s the thing- the movies aren’t straight adaptations. To quote the great philosopher Hector Barbossa; ‘They’re more guidelines than your actual rules.’

Or alternatively, maybe there’s an awareness that they maybe can’t really reconcile the two versions of Brunhilde- MCU and 616- in the comics so… they decided to just try a different tact. They clearly want to continue the success of Jane’s run, it’s obvious there was clamour for her to come back in some capacity (if not as Thor)… so, this made sense.

That’s my interpretation, pure speculation obviously, but given that I (and to be fair, quite a few other people) guessed Jane becoming a Valkyrie in the first place, let’s just say my batting average is pretty high. I won’t blame you for not being on board for this, especially if you loved Brunhilde, but she’s clearly got a future in the MCU whereas Jane Foster probably hasn’t, so swings and roundabouts I guess?

CAW CAW

I cannot wait for this comic- and the variant covers, the cosplayers, the fan art, the toys and everything else (I’m going to need a Valkyrie Jane Funko pop for my collection). The preview pages by the series artist CAFU (Carlos Alberto Fernández Urbano) look phenomenal. I hear good things about Al Ewing’s Immortal Hulk run and obviously I trust Jason Aaron to write Jane well. July cannot come soon enough.

*Okay, so it’s only happened like twice, so I don’t know if it technically counts as a ‘tradition’ yet, but whatever.

I’m a thirty something British nerd-mum and wannabe author, fueled by tea, poor decision making and a need to be distracted. Cursed to watch favourite characters die and ships sink. Send help.

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