Writers: Jason Aaron & Torunn Gronbekk
Guest Artist: Ramon Rosanas
Colors: Jesus Aburtov
Lettering: VC’s Joe Sabino
Cover: Mahmud Asrar & Matthew Wilson
Release Date: March 18th, 2020
Reviewer: Steve Baum
Leaving the Avengers to defend the earth from hellish new invaders, Jane Foster – the Valkyrie -embarked with the All-Father himself deep inside the crevices from which these creatures emerged. The two of them working together was enough of a battle against the odds. But after trying to destroy this new-found evil, Thor only managed to free its’ energy and succumb to its’ possession! Valkyrie not only must contend with this evil without the help of Thor, she now must battle Thor himself as well. All this as an unseen hand guides our heroes closer to unknowingly granting him an ancient, terrifying power…
Valhalla. The eternal resting place and perpetual party hall of any warrior who sacrifices his or her life in battle for a noble purpose greater than themselves. It’s also where Tyr Odinson, the less-famed brother of Thor, was banished to for crimes against the crown, intended to spend eternity serving at the whim of true heroes. But Tyr has a plan. The Urdoors, hidden portals shielded from the eyes of Sif herself and Heimdall before her, can be used to escape banishment and traverse the realms unseen. All it takes is a lot of alcohol and a little conniving; Tyr has both. What he doesn’t have, however, are the spells and magic of a long-forgotten language. While Tyr deals with magic barriers, Valkyrie deals with something a little more frightening. Namely, the All-Father Thor possessed by the same evil Try is trying to unleash.
As Thor struggles in a losing effort to fight this infection and maintain self-control, Jane Foster turns to the ‘Sight of the Valkyrie’ in an attempt to gain some knowledge or advantage, and take back control of her friend and fellow hero. However, it’s difficult to see the entire forest through the trees when you’re IN the forest. Thor’s death looms so largely, they’re battling inside it without even realizing at first. We’ll touch on the fight more in the discussion on the visuals. After winning the battle, but about to lose the war, Jane struggles to catch her breath as Tyr twirls his mustache and villain-splains. As we’ve seen throughout this series so far, Undrjarn becomes what the wielder NEEDS. He may be annoying (per Jane) but his plan is successful; luring Jane to use her new all-weapon to accomplish what Tyr alone could not.
Meanwhile, back on the surface, the Avengers enjoy a momentary victory. Momentary because they quickly realize that something is wrong. Colors are off, emotions are lacking, joy isn’t joyful. Something just… isn’t quite right. Armed with the key needed to break open the doors bound by ageless magic, Tyr is met by an understandably confused Loki. Initially tickled and curious as to how Tyr was able to silence and make obedient their typically loud and rambunctious brother, Loki too soon realizes all is not as it should be. A battle-weary Jane makes for Asgard on the back of trusty Mr. Horse to warn whomever she can find. The issue ends with Tyr side-by-side with an obedient shell of the God of Thunder, and face-to-face with the power he’s so long sought after.
Now, let’s talk about art and coloring. If you’re a fan of ice hockey (stick with me here), you know that when referring to a traditional, “stay at home” defenseman, the less you hear their name over the broadcast the better. This player isn’t being flashy and skating coast-to-coast to score highlight-reel goals. But they’re always in the right position, working the fundamentals, breaking up plays before they become trouble, and making quick, simple break-out passes to turn the play the other way. Basically, if you never hear their name, it means they’re not making any mistakes and are executing their role effectively. But every now and then, that player seizes an opportunity to make a play, and you see them the next day on SportsCenter. That’s the best way to describe the art in this book. It’s consistent, and outside of a few flashy panels, you almost wouldn’t even notice it. It just serves the story. That being said, the panels of Jane battling Thor are pretty cool looking. Jane’s Valkyrie Vision transports us to the stars, each shining planet a potential fate. Mjolnir spews black lightning as they battle inside the blue and purple hues of Thor’s massive looming death. Jane erupts in brilliant light, wings spread reminiscent of Jean Grey wielding the Phoenix. The fight culminates in a gorgeous two-page splash, infected Mjolnir versus the healing doctor’s Undrjarn, with milestones in Jane’s memory rounding out the action. Jane pierces Ode’s heart as the earth is enveloped in light versus infection. The final panel of Tyr revealing the Rokkva is simple, grim and foreboding. This quiet, ‘get the job done’ defenseman just stole the puck, split the D and ripped one bar-down for the game-winner. Ok, enough with the hockey references. Plain English: the art in this issue is awesome and a notch above what we typically see.
This issue takes a turn away from the style of the previous one. There aren’t many jokes to be made, there’s not a ton of character interaction. The Avengers are doing their best to keep order on the surface as Jane battles Thor and Tyr below to get to the bottom of what’s going on. Basically, our protagonist trying her Odin-damned best to save the day. It doesn’t get more comic-book than that. Tyr’s plan is revealed nicely, and for the second issue in a row, it leaves us craving next month’s release to see just what the Hel is going to happen. The art team crushes it when they’re supposed to crush it, and delivers solid work throughout the rest of the issue. It was also nice to get away from Jane’s life in the morgue and her mortal problems, and just see her cut loose and kick some ass. Overall, this is a (very) slight dip from the magic that was last month’s issue, but this series is coming into its own nicely. If you’re in any way invested in the Thor universe, you owe it to yourself to check it out.