Mighty Valkyries #3
While Kraven the Hunter stalks Jane Foster on Midgard and the newest Valkyrie fights for her soul on Perdita, Karnilla, the queen of Hel, works a miracle in the land of the dead! But Karnilla isn’t Hel’s only ruler—and now she’s upset the cosmic balance. There will be a price to pay…and Karnilla intends to ensure the Valkyries pay it.
Now halfway through its run, Mighty Valkyries is unfortunately starting to buckle under the weight of its authors’ ambition. While the first two issues were equal parts high-octane action and character-driven exploration of mortality, this comparably quiet third issue brings all of the book’s flaws to the surface. Jason Aaron and Torunn Grønbekk have finally started to incorporate the stories of Jane and Runa, at least in terms of scene structure. However, they’ve also split up a large cast into a multitude of small parties: Karnilla, Loki, and the triplets; Valkyrie and Mr. Horse; More (by themself); Hela (by herself); and Kvasir and Runa. Unfortunately, this leaves the issue with no real room to focus on its characters because none of them are present for long enough.
While the book is still working with interesting material thematically (mortality and renewal), those themes don’t have much room to grow into their own. And while Mighty Valkyries has a sizable cast, all of them do very little in this issue. And take a long time doing it. The narration oozes gravitas, desperate to emphasize the importance of these small moments, which almost certainly act as set-ups for the final two issues. However, by aligning all of these small moments, the book feels not just overstuffed but paradoxically empty at the same time.
There are glimpses of character development, but interactions generally lack the depth that made the first two issues of Mighty Valkyries so poignant. One glimpse of interiority readers do receive in relation to Runa — who has achieved all of her goals and feels lost in the wake of Alta’s death — sadly acts as a reminder of one of the book’s more glaring flaws: the “Bury Your Gays” trope. LGBT+ characters (most often women) are overwhelmingly more likely to die in fiction in comparison to their straight counterparts, emphasizing the idea that LGBT+ characters — and real LGBT+ people — aren’t truly allowed happiness. While Mighty Valkyries may be a book about death, LGBT+ people deserve more stories outside of grief. This book, thematically, has placed a lot of emphasis on rebirth and renewal. However, while this may set up the possibility of resurrection for Alta, Alta as a character has existed mostly via flashback, serving as a plot device to drive Runa forward, and any resurrection would hold little meaning.
While the writing leaves something to be desired, the art of Mighty Valkyries continues to be excellent. Jane Foster’s story, drawn by Mattia De Iulis, gives all of the story’s characters a sense of humanity and nuance in their expressions and body language that the text fails to deliver. While the over-crowded nature of the issue forces him to be economical (no splash pages and few large panels) there’s still something incredibly cinematic in De Iulis’ compositions and lighting that makes his work a pleasure to read. In comparison to De Iulis’ hyperrealism, the issue’s other artistic team — Erica D’Urso and colorist Marcio Menyz — have a more traditional approach to comics that is equally well-executed. D’Urso shows off her technical prowess in drawing several small spacecraft in the midst of a dynamic getaway scene, but it’s actually the interactions between Kvasir and Runa that are perhaps most memorable as their dynamic shifts before and after their arrival on Vanaheim. Meanwhile, Menyz’s colors move elegantly from the vibrant, punchy colors of the escape scene to the gentle and warm tones of Vanaheim in a way that ends up blending wonderfully when moving in and out of De Iulis’ work on the other story.
The issue’s cover, once again by De Iulis, is on the one hand striking but on the other hand doesn’t feel terribly reflective of the issue. Jason Aaron’s stories often situate Loki as a menacing machiavel rather than an anti-hero, and that tone is echoed by the imagery of Loki manipulating Runa and Jane like puppets on strings. However, Loki appears on only four pages of the issue and, like every other character, does incredibly little. Thus, while it’s a striking composition, the cover sets up a promise the issue doesn’t deliver on.
Mighty Valkyries #3 is often a feast for the eyes. However, the writers have perhaps bitten off more than they can chew. While the issue sets the stage for the latter half of the miniseries, it’s sadly lackluster on its own. Hopefully, the next issue is a return to form.
Mighty Valkyries #3: In Search of Something More
Writing - 5.5/105.5/10
Storyline - 5/105/10
Art - 8/108/10
Color - 8/108/10
Cover Art - 7.5/107.5/10
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