The epic saga of Jane Foster continues in this week’s The Mighty Valkyries #1, but she’s not the only servant of Valhalla embarking on a new adventure.
Jane’s rise from Thor’s love interest to a superhero in her own right has been a curious development over the past decade. Since Natalie Portman’s most recent MCU appearance as Jane in 2013, her comicbook counterpart was diagnosed with cancer, gained the powers of Thor, died, was reborn, and then became Asgard’s sole Valkyrie after the entire squadron was killed in battle. The Mighty Valkyries is a continuation of this extended story arc, most relevantly following Valkyrie: Jane Foster and King in Black: Return of the Valkyries, but it also offers further development of another Valkyrie with familiar leanings.
Valkyrie made her MCU debut in 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok, but it wasn’t the classic Brunnhilde version from the comics. As portrayed by Tessa Thompson, this new iteration was a down-on-her-luck merc and the sole surviving Valkyrie who reluctantly returns to form and eventually becomes the ruler of New Asgard. Thompson’s Valkyrie became a quick fan favorite after just one appearance, naturally convincing Marvel to introduce a similar (alternate universe) version in Saladin Ahmed’s Exiles. And then came the aforementioned King in Black tie-in that introduced yet another Thompson version for the prime 616 continuity, who shares the spotlight with Jane in this series. Who said comics are convoluted and inaccessible?!
In any event, The Mighty Valkyries is a weirdly complicated creature. In addition to fleshing out the backstory of the newbie, it’s also a relaunch (and finale?) to Jane’s Valkyrie series, apparently incorporating elements of what writers Jason Aaron and Torunn Grønbekk would have done had it not been a casualty of the pandemic last year (solicitations of the canned #11 and #12 issues allude to a plot involving Loki and Kraven the Hunter, which sounds a lot like what happens in this issue). I don’t necessarily think this is the best jumping on point for anybody who might be interested for the reasons stated. Because it’s so linked to what Aaron has done with Jane over the past decade, you might want to check out all of his Jane-relevant stuff leading up to now, or at least the last two Valkyrie runs. You could read this issue cold and probably follow along, but I think the context is crucial.
The Mighty Valkyries utilizes a split story format (each with their own creative teams) to follow both of its protagonists, which is a logical decision. They both feel distinct enough that it’s earned and not just a gimmick; Jane’s story has a different vibe than her fellow Valkyries’. The first (scripted by Aaron and Grønbekk) follows Jane as she gets involved in a deadly plot involving Loki, while the other (by Grønbekk) follows the other as she seeks answers about her long, forgotten past. I assume both stories will converge eventually, but for now it’s an agreeable approach that serves both.
While their scripts aren’t especially different from one another in tone, it’s the unique art that really sets them apart. Mattia De Iulis, who was solicited on the canceled issues, illustrates Jane’s story, and his art is simply beautiful. I’ve been a fan of his since his Jessica Jones run with Kelly Thompson, and he’s pretty much an ideal artist for a story involving Asgardian intrigue. De Iulis has such a lush, photorealistic aesthetic that’s easy to get lost in. Erica D’Urso’s art for the new Valkyrie, on the other hand, is more cartoony by comparison, but in a good way. Her segments of the issue definitely recall Ragnarok in a way that seems intentional, depicting a run-down planet with bright colors and otherworldly visuals. I think the contrast in their styles definitely helps the issue as a whole feel substantial in a way that it might not otherwise.
The Mighty Valkyries #1
- Writers: Jason Aaron (Jane story), Torunn Grønbekk (both stories)
- Artists: Mattia De Iulis (Jane story), Erica D’Urso (New Valkyrie story)
- Color Artists: Mattia De Iulis (Jane story), Marcio Menyz (New Valkyrie story)
- Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
- Cover Artist: Mattia De Iulis
- Editors: Wil Moss, Sarah Brunstad
- Publisher: Marvel Entertainment