Issue(s): Defenders #5
...when she is attacked by some hooded assassins.
The Valkyrie easily defeats them, and is annoyed when Dr. Strange arrives to help. Her annoyance takes the form of the overt feminism that we've been seeing from Marvel female leads at this time ("The Valkyrie needs no help from you or any other man"), but there's a quick acknowledgement that her personality was created by the Enchantress to be this way.
Some other interesting bits in the above panels as well: the way her personality also causes distrust in other women, and the fact that she's in love with the Black Knight.
We'll see more of the hooded guys next issue; the rest of this issue is devoted to the revival of Yandroth's Omegatron that has been teased since issue #1.
With Valkyrie having agreed that she needs friends, Dr. Strange gives her a pair of gems that allow her to seek out Namor and the Hulk. She finds Namor at Betty Dean's house with Namorita. Valkyrie gets "friend" a little muddled with "teammate" (perfectly natural for a valkyrie) and Namor is still uninterested in being part of a formal team. But before the conversation gets too far, Namor disappears. Valkyrie still has the gem, so she's able to hone in on his new location.
She takes Namorita with her. The nice thing about having a warrior-woman protagonist is she doesn't waste time with "but you're a girl" or "you're a child" objections.
Val also tries to recruit the Hulk before going to look for Namor but he's even less receptive to teamwork than Namor was. He's also teleported away, though.
The gems lead Val and Namorita to the Omegatron.
The Omegatron sends Namor and Hulk duplicates to stop Val and Namorita...
...and the Valkyrie uses the Black Knight's horse, Aragorn, to sniff out which ones are real.
Eventually the good guys all come to their senses and get to fight Omegatron. After the Hulk staggers it, the Valkyrie finishes it off by slicing off its head.
It's said that it was Yandroth's arrogance that made the Omegatron vulnerable to a head-slice, i guess the idea being that the vulnerable circuitry didn't have to be in the machine's head. The Valkyrie's sword - a combination of physical and magical power - was also instrumental in its defeat.
The Omegatron was supposed to end the world when it uttered Yandroth's name, and Val stopped it before it could finish saying the word. A potential problem is that the Omegatron actually said Yandroth's name earlier in the story...
...although i guess you can say that was before it was fully activated.
Valkyrie makes another pitch to keep the group together as a formal team at the end of the issue. The Hulk grumpily declines and jumps away, but Namor agrees this time.
The "Maybe... a beginning" signifies a change in the book. The Defenders will still be called a non-team, but that becomes less and less true. At a minimum, we won't constantly have to endure contrived reasons to get the group back together.
Unburdened by any of the usual problems around Marvel's depictions of women, this book was a really fun team-up that makes great use of the Valkyrie's weird origin as well as the "non-team" aspect of the book. It's also interesting how the Valkyrie got Black Knight's sword and flying horse after he was sent away, like she was a deliberate attempt to swap out a male character without changing the group dynamic too much.
Sal Buscema's art is looking just a little stiffer and less sophisticated than his best, but overall this was one of the most enjoyable books of the era. Nothing fancy or deep; just a fun adventure story. I think the introduction of the Valkyrie was a good move for the book; it provides a character that the book can focus on and through which we can "experience" the other established characters.
I wonder if Namorita was being considered for "membership" at this time, but she doesn't appear in future issues.
Quality Rating: B-
Chronological Placement Considerations: This takes place after Namorita is left with Betty Dean, so after Sub-Mariner #55. The MCP has the Hulk here between #160-161 (same as his appearances in Defenders #2-4). And these issues are before Dr. Strange's run in Marvel Premiere begins.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showAragorn, Betty Dean, Black Knight Statue, Clea, Dr. Strange, Hulk, Namorita, Omegatron, Sub-Mariner, Valkyrie
Other than Giacoia, I also find McLaughlin's inks to compliment Sal's great art -- for the most part. Those wet-haired Hulks look really off. But I like his hard outlines on the characters very much. And as far as saying Sal's art is stiff, look no further than the hooded villain's 4 fight panels to see why I love Sal's art so much. He goes to the extreme with angled action shots - but not overly done to the point of non-realism. He just gives them raw power, something Andru and Heck fail to do. And another reason is he draws women fantastic. His brother John and Romita also excelled at females.
Posted by: Mike | June 29, 2014 3:00 PM
I wanted to add that I thought Namorita as a sidekick could get really annoying with her "I'm a Sub-Mariner too you know!"
Posted by: Mike | June 29, 2014 3:04 PM
Englehart, who usually wrote comparatively well-developed women for the time, does an unusually poor job with Valkyrie's characterization here, especially her unconvincing unrequited love for the Black Knight. I suspect that EoC Roy Thomas, who created both characters, must have dictated that sub-plot.
Posted by: Andrew | January 17, 2015 7:47 AM
I'm not sure I buy that- we've discussed Englehart's ... issues writing women many times on this site, although they seem to have become more pronounced in the '80's.
Posted by: Michael | January 17, 2015 8:57 AM
Ah, you young folk with no sense of history... In the early seventies Engelhart was a breath of fresh air. His Scarlet Witch was light years ahead of Roy Thomas's, and Silver St. Cloud brought Batman to a new level. I won't defend his eighties work, and I won't say he didn't have issues, but his characters were usually well-rounded at this time, with real motivations. Valkyrie's supposed love for the Black Knight just came out of nowhere.
Posted by: Andrew | February 28, 2015 7:53 PM
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