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Valkyrie #1

A comic review article by: Ray Tate
"Tragic Opera"

Valkyrie reads like a superb television pilot. Even had you never picked up an issue of The Defenders or Secret Avengers, if you read this one-shot, you will know everything you need to know about Valkyrie.

Valkyrie is not Barbara Norris, her most familiar host body. Writer Bryan Glass instead resuscitates Val as a new woman with a new origin that's linked to gender violence as well as the Valkyrie's personal rogue's gallery. I'll bet you didn't know she had one of those. She does, and Glass' inclusion of certain characters demonstrates excellent decision making to tighten and enrich his tale.

Glass clears up some misconceptions about Valkyrie, and he remarks on her history. Valkyrie does not hate men. She also isn't merely all brawn and swordplay. She deduces the identity of her assailant before beating him senseless. Despite Valkyrie being a flashback, in respect to the Heroic Age, Glass doesn't mention Civil War, Secret Invasion or Siege. Instead, he sets the story in a period that could have occurred anywhere in the recent past. He makes the story reader friendly. He's more focused on the mechanics of storytelling, not the precise timing of the continuity.

Glass gives Phil Winslade scenes that measure the warrior woman's worth. When I flipped through the comic book at the Phantom of the Attic, free plug, the panel where the newly reanimated Valkyrie, sword in hand, vaults out of the back of an ambulance in the middle of a rainstorm sold the book to me. It's not the only instance where Valkyrie's actions impress.

Val leaps over desks and threatens with her sword Dragonfang. She crouches on furniture and glowers. In full costume, she batters girders and slices steel. Astride a stallion, Valkyrie lives up to her name, but here's the twist. Instead of taking dead warriors to Valhalla, she rides a different kind of warrior to a hall of healing.

To be sure, Winslade isn't just an action artist. He consistently manipulates the shadows to keep the criminal's identity a mystery. He imbues character fitting ebullience to the guest hero as well as pathos when sour memories return. Winslade accents Val's height. She towers over most men and women in the book and no waif is she. Winslade gives Val a physique that honors her heroic calling.

Kudos also to colorist Veronica Gandini. Her natural colors accent the realism of the urban setting. Subtle shades indicate that Val's wearing nylons which become torn and holed as the story progresses. The red hotel uniforms are just the right intensity. The green and purple outfit Val wears once she gets her head together subconsciously recalls her time spent fighting alongside the Hulk, and her uniform blues are a splash of attractive familiarity.

While it would be grand to see an ongoing Valkyrie series with Glass, Winslade, and Gandini, this one-shot isn't going to be collected in a trade paperback. So, get thee to your comic book shop, and buy it now. You won't be sorry. It's the perfect treatment of Valkyrie.

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