For those who are enjoying the use of Valkyrie over in Ed Brubaker’s “Secret Avengers,” this one-shot would appear to present the perfect chance to see a little more of the character in action.
Unfortunately, the opportunity to tell a story starring the character has instead been used –some might say squandered — on an attempt to straighten out the history of the “Valkyrie” identity, which has been held by various individuals and become a little convoluted of late. It’s always a concern when a story has to open with a caption telling you that it takes place between two storylines — in this case, “Avengers Disassembled” and “Secret Invasion.”
To his credit, writer Bryan Glass makes a fair stab at telling a story that’s actually about Valkyrie — setting up an identity crisis in which she wakes up in the body of a woman following her murder, with only fragments of her own memory — and then sets off in an attempt to discover who she is and, for that matter, who she was. It seems like a fair angle for a character that has had more incarnations than the Hulk has had color changes.
Mostly, Glass pulls it off, redefining Valkyrie’s premise as a character so that it can at least be explained in one line. The problem is that we’re left with the distinct impression that this entire matter could have been cleared up just as easily by inserting that one line into an issue of “Secret Avengers.” The plot itself lacks a solid twist (the one that does come is both a bit too convenient and virtually meaningless to those without any knowledge of Valkyrie’s rogue’s gallery) and the resolution of the identity crisis plot thread, such that it is, appears to be a fairly trite “be yourself” message.
Winslade’s artwork, at least, is strong and appropriately Deodato-esque, giving the issue a look consistent with “Secret Avengers.” The storytelling has strong fundamentals, and Winslade does well to make Valkyrie a striking figure, despite placing her in a realistic urban setting (which is rendered with appropriately muted, but never dull, coloring by Gandini.)
As it happens, nothing here is badly executed, but it does all feel a bit too by-the-numbers to be especially entertaining. The problems are largely about what’s left out of the story – a hook, a twist, a satisfying resolution – and of particular concern is that Valkyrie never really evidences any personality outside of being a female Thor. Perhaps, if a new status quo had been properly established, it could have been a springboard into more stories, but the story ends with the character almost literally riding off into the sunset. There was the chance here to make Valkyrie into a viable stand-alone character, but by time we turn the final page, the job is only half-complete. So close, and yet, so far.