Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google+ Share on Reddit Share on Pinterest Share on Linkedin Share on Tumblr Like most heroes in the MCU, Valkyrie in THOR: RAGNAROK is somewhat different from Valkyrie in the Marvel comics. MCU Valkyrie is an embittered bounty hunter in space, while the comics version of Valkyrie is more like a female version of Thor. She’s an Asgardian goddess named Brunnhilde who was cast down to Earth, and she occasionally gets fused to mortal women. Nowadays, Valkyrie’s the only Asgardian getting fused to mortals, but in the early ’60s, Thor used to inhabit the body of a partially disabled medical student named Donald Blake. Of course, Thor ended up abandoning the whole “Donald Blake” thing altogether, and the current version of Thor in the comics is a woman, so I suppose calling Valkyrie “female Thor” is a bit outdated. THOR: RAGNAROK: A ComicsVerse Review Speaking of things that are outdated, Marvel used Valkyrie as an attack on the Women’s Liberation Movement? Valkyrie was created by Roy Thomas and John Buscema, and going off her first comic appearances; it seems that Thomas had an ax to grind against feminism. So, for the sake of pointing and laughing at 70s gender politics, let’s take a look at Valkyrie’s two first debut issues: THE AVENGERS #83 (1970), and THE INCREDIBLE HULK #142 (1970). “Come On In… The Revolution’s Fine!” AVENGERS #83 begins when Wasp comes home to Avengers Mansion one night, and discovers a blonde lady screaming out the title of the issue. Obviously, the blonde lady is Valkyrie, and it turns out she’s holding a meeting with a group of superheroines: Scarlet Witch, Black Widow, and the Inhuman Queen Medusa. Valkyrie explains that she was once a research scientist who was treated poorly by her male peers. This mistreatment leads to her getting caught in a lab accident; so, naturally, she’s now a superhuman vigilante dedicated to fighting against the patriarchy. Thus, Valkyrie wants to make a team called the “Liberators” so she can take down the male Avengers. You’d guess that the female superheroes would refuse to turn against their allies, but it turns out they’re more resentful than you’d expect. Giant Man and Quicksilver get more recognition from the press while Wasp and Scarlet Witch are overlooked. Black Widow, ironically enough, keeps getting passed over for Avengers membership. Medusa realizes that the Inhumans are lead by someone who can’t even speak, so she decides to turn on her entire family. It also helps that Valkyrie’s overblown radical feminism is quite charismatic in its own way: An October Revolution of Sorts Meanwhile, the male Avengers arrive at a Halloween costume party in Vermont. Specifically, they’re there because of a rumored kidnapping plot that’s going to take place during the annual Rutland Halloween parade. I’d like to point out that one of the male Avengers here is the size-changing Goliath, who seems like just another one of Hank Pym’s outfits. Surprisingly though, this issue’s version of Goliath is Hawkeye, who, for whatever reason, decided that he’d rather have Giant-man’s gimmick instead. The other thing I’d like to point out is that we get a guest appearance from writer Roy Thomas himself at the costume party, and he looks a little bit dead inside. Anyways, the Masters of Evil show up at the parade to kidnap Dr. Erwin, who also happens to be the scientist that disrespected Valkyrie in her backstory. Soon enough, Valkyrie and the newly assembled Lady Liberators show up. They beat up both the Masters of Evil and the Avengers. After tying up the Avengers, Valkyrie and the Liberators head to Dr. Erwin’s lab, where they find a parallel-time projector. It’s at this point that Valkyrie reveals she was Enchantress in disguise the whole time. That is a bummer since it means that Valkyrie wasn’t even technically an actual character in her own debut. What’s up with Enchantress? No big reveal is complete with a monologue, so Enchantress makes sure to let everyone know why she’s doing what she’s doing. Some time ago, Enchantress’s boyfriend The Executioner left her for the ruler of the nether-worlds. Enchantress now hates all men, though that doesn’t have anything to do with her goals here. Since half of her power was taken away when she was banished, all Enchantress wanted to do was use the parallel-time projector to reclaim her powers. Of course, after doing that, there’s probably a lot more she could do with the whole “hate all men” thing. The comic doesn’t give any indications as to whether or not Enchantress thought that far ahead. Marvel Animated Universe: Then and Now Hurtling towards a Conclusion Luckily, just as Enchantress is about to execute both the Avengers and the Liberators, Scarlet Witch takes her out pretty easily. Given that Enchantress was quickly able to manipulate the female heroes by bringing up the ways their male peers have slighted them, you’d probably expect this issue to end with some discussion or moral about gender dynamics. At the very least you’d think they’d resolve the plot thread of the female Avengers feeling underappreciated. Well, technically speaking, it did start a discussion: To be frank, AVENGERS #83 does seem to be disparaging people who were speaking out against gender inequality at the time. However, the female Avengers’ reasons for joining Valkyrie don’t get refuted in the story, and the women do save the day in the end. Now, if you want a more blatant attack on the Women’s Liberation movement, check out THE INCREDIBLE HULK #142. “They Shoot Hulks, Don’t They?” You would expect that a HULK issue called “They Shoot Hulks, Don’t They?” would be relatively grim and gritty. Well, that’s not the case here, since this issue generally revolves around the Hulk being awkward at a ritzy fundraiser. But more on that later. This one begins with the Hulk hiding out in the Statue of Liberty. News inevitably breaks out about this. It particularly catches the attention of the Parringtons, a family of wealthy socialites who want to throw a fundraiser for the Hulk to impress their peers. “Radical Chic” In the corner of the front page, there’s a note that says the story was inspired by a book called “Radical Chic.” The book was based on Wolfe’s experiences attending a Black Panthers fundraising party hosted by wealthy composer Leonard Bernstein. Wolfe described the party as “radical chic,” a term that refers to when rich people adopt or promote liberal political causes they don’t genuinely believe in to improve their social image. On a side note, the Black Panthers described Wolfe as “that dirty, blatant, lying, racist dog who wrote that fascist disgusting thing in New York magazine.” Thus, as the Marvel wiki page on “They Shoot Hulks, Don’t They?” puts it: “In this story, Bernstein and his wife are replaced by the Parringtons and the Black Panthers with the Hulk.” HULK Essentials: Reading For A Smashing Time! When Does Valkyrie Show Up? For the sake of simplicity, let’s not talk about the implications of comparing the Black Panther movement to the Hulk. Instead, let’s talk about the Parringtons’ daughter Samantha. When the Parringtons go get the Hulk, Samantha ends up being the one who convinces the Hulk to come down. She even beats up a cop along the way. However, when the Parringtons return with the Hulk, Samantha’s father takes all the credit, and Samantha gets fairly upset: She runs off and eventually returns with a crowd of Women’s Liberation Activists to picket the fundraiser. Meanwhile, we have Hulk meeting and greeting socialites at the Parringtons’ fundraiser. Believe it or not, he’s actually relatively under control here, which is either funny or disappointing depending on your tastes. Inevitably, things go sour when the Parringtons hand Hulk the money they raised. As it turns out, Hulk apparently does not know the concept of currency: Valkyrie Finally Shows Up Valkyrie showed up in the issue a little bit before Hulk turned down the money. Remember when Samantha got the Women’s Liberation Activists to protest the fundraiser? Well, it turns out Enchantress was watching that protest from an alternate dimension. Enchantress then flicks an interdimensional spell that hits Samantha. Soon enough, this happens: Back at the party, the Parringtons are learning that the Hulk doesn’t know what money is. They get interrupted by someone who should be familiar by now: Valkyrie and Hulk proceed to battle. The irrationally angry and id-driven Hulk feels uncomfortable fighting a woman though, so he doesn’t put up a fight. Enchantress’s hatred of men is still the main thing driving Valkyrie. So, as an act against the patriarchy, Enchantress has Valkyrie kill the Hulk by throwing him off a skyscraper. It doesn’t work. Don’t worry though, there’s still room for an anti-climactic ending here. Enchantress gets tired of spellcasting from another dimension, and she loses control over her magic. This turns Hulk and Valkyrie back to normal. Conveniently, both of them have forgotten what happened, and they walk away from each other. That’s it. The Indie Spotlight: Emily Reisbeck Thoughts and Recommendations First off, I’d recommend checking out AVENGERS #83 and THE INCREDIBLE HULK #142 if you can. Both of these issues do work as goofy dumb fun, even if the politics involved are a bit outdated. Despite the stories’ condescending attitudes towards feminism, the main female characters are portrayed as competent figures. They hold their own against other male superhumans, and Valkyrie as an overzealous radical feminist is a pretty fun character. Well, technically speaking, Valkyrie isn’t quite a character yet in these issues. She’s just a way for the Enchantress to vent over a bad breakup. While this does result in some pretty entertaining hamminess, if you want to read the Valkyrie story where she starts being a self-autonomous superhero, check out DEFENDERS #4. That issue, also written by Roy Thomas, continues plot points from AVENGERS #83 and THE INCREDIBLE HULK #142. So, if you haven’t already, you might want to read those beforehand. If you don’t want to read dumb 70s comics and would instead read silly modern comics instead, I think FEARLESS DEFENDERS (2013) was the last series to have Valkyrie in a starring role. It’s also the series that made her bisexuality canon. Male Chauvinist Pigs All in all, Valkyrie started out as a way of making of fun of feminist progressives, but I think her exaggerated views are more resonant today than expected. Considering the rise of bigoted ideologies like the alt-right, as well as the increasing number of public allegations against men in power, someone wanting to put an end to “male chauvinist pigs” doesn’t seem so crazy these days. Even though she was just an illusion made up by the Enchantress, Valkyrie had a lot of personality in her first two appearances, and it’d be cool to see some of those characteristics make a comeback.