Today I’m back with another new guide for Patrons of Crushing Krisis that helps complete the coverage started with last week’s Guide to Jane Foster, Mighty Thor & Valkyrie…
One of the best aspects of the past decade of Marvel Comics is that it has made use of characters from every corner of the Marvel 616-Universe, moreso than any prior decade. That has included stalwart favorites, forgotten supporting characters, and a massive list of new stars who went from debut to title-anchoring characters in a span of years.
That is very, very impressive.
After creating over 100 comic guides, I know that some characters have a tendency to completely disappear after a major run tapers off due to low sales. Hey, if it happened to the X-Men it can happen to anyone! Just look at how many characters DC has completely erased in the same decade!
Jokes aside, many of Marvel’s Bronze Age mainstays didn’t survive the one-two punch of Jim Shooter’s linewide realignment in the mid-80s plus transition to a cooler, grittier, more extreme world of comics heading into the 90s.
This was especially true of the second-tier stars of the original 1972-1986 run of The Defenders. Hulk still had his ongoing title, Dr. Strange hopped from his 70s title to the brief Strange Tales to his lengthy 1988 ongoing, and Namor scored a new ongoing in 1990. The supporting cast – both of the original team and the “New Defenders” soft reboot – were not so lucky. Characters like Nighthawk, Hellcat, Gargoyle, Devil-Slayer, Cloud, and Valkyrie went virtually unknown to most 90s readers.
This is the most surprising for Brunnhilde The Valkyrie, who occupied an existing role in the Marvel Universe as the head of Odin and Hela’s Valkyrior, those Norse warrior women on winged steeds who ferried souls of dead warriors to the afterlife. Yet, Valkyries in general appeared more in the late 80s than Valkyrie in specific thanks to Dani Moonstar’s ongoing connection to Asgard in New Mutants!
I think part of Valkyrie’s disappearance was that creators were plain old confused about how to use her. She appeared to be dead at the end of New Defenders, but that was quickly amended in Doctor Strange. Yet, some comics still treated her as if she was stuck in the afterlife. She ditched her former human body host back in The Defenders (1972) #109, but some writers seemed to be under the impression she required a human avatar. And, was she still the head of Asgard’s Valkyrie’s, or just another Asgardian roaming Earth? Opinions varied from appearance to appearance.
Plus, Valkyrie had never truly been part of the Thor editorial office the way Sif, Hela, or The Warriors Three had been. Between that and her continuity confusion you wind up with an intriguing character who spent over 20 years being criminally under-used!
That all began to change in the mid-00s, first with Dan Slott adopting Valkyrie as a buddy for his Jennifer Walters, then with with Ed Brubaker, Rick Remender, and Cullen Bunn adopting her into the cast of several ongoing titles from 2010 to 2014. It really felt as though we needed creators who grew up with The Defenders to appreciate Valkyrie’s story potential.
Then, the Marvel Cinematic Universe happened.
2017’s Thor Ragnarok, to be exact. With the introduction of Tessa Thompson’s popular film version of Brunnhilde, using the blonde-haired, blue-eyed Nordic version in the comics became slightly less tempting. She was a character with no media tie-in and an especially confusing history.
Luckily, Cullen Bunn returned to his beloved leading lady in Asgardians of the Galaxy and, along with Jason Aaron’s War of the Realms climax to his Thor run, guided her into an appropriate legacy role while making way for new characters to carry the title of Valkyrie.
I have to admit, in reviewing every Valkyrie issue for this guide I was surprised to find just how little story Brunnhilde had despite hundreds of appearances. She rarely experienced any character development between the end of Defenders in 1986 and Bunn taking her over in 2011’s Fear Itself: The Fearless.
I credit my surprise to the strength of Bunn’s writing on The Fearless, which was my first encounter with her. He made her out to be a superstar with a compelling history when she was anything but.
Current Exclusives for Crushing Cadets ($1/month): 24 Guides!
DC Guides (6): Batman – Index of Ongoing Titles, Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight, Green Lantern Corps, Green Lantern: Hal Jordan, Green Lantern: Kyle Rayner, Omega Men
Marvel Guides (17): Alpha Flight, Blade, Captain Britain, Dazzler, Domino, Dracula, Elsa Bloodstone, The Eternals, Jane Foster – Thor & Valkyrie, Legion, Marvel Era: Marvel Legacy, Mister Sinister, Sabretooth, Spider-Ham, Valkyrie, Vision, Weapon X, X-Man – Nate Grey
Current Exclusives For Pledgeonauts ($1.99+/month): 51 Guides!
All of the 24 guides above, plus…
DC Guides (15): Animal Man, Aquaman, Books of Magic, Catwoman, Flash, Harley Quinn, Houses & Horrors, Legion of Super-Heroes, Justice League, Lucifer, Mister Miracle, Nightwing, Outsiders, Suicide Squad, Swamp Thing
Marvel Guides (12): Ant-Man & Giant-Man, Champions, Darkhawk, Falcon, Gwenpool, Moon Boy / Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur, Power Pack, Sentry, Silk, Spider-Gwen, Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Venom
Indie & Licensed Comics: None right now
Leave a Reply