Valkyrie (Marvel Comics)
Cover of the Valkyrie one-shot (January 1997). Art by Pablo Raimondi
|First appearance||The Avengers #83 (December 1970)|
|Created by||Roy Thomas
|Notable aliases||Barbara Denton-Norris, Sian Bowen, Brunnhilde of Asgard|
Valkyrie is a fictional superhero created by Roy Thomas and John Buscema that appears in comic books published by Marvel Comics, based on the Norse mythological figure Brynhildr. The character first appeared in The Avengers #83 (December 1970) and has become a mainstay of the superhero team known as the Defenders. An Asgardian by birth, Valkyrie, also known by her real name Brunnhilde, was selected by Odin to lead the Valkyrior. Among her other aliases are Barbara Denton-Norriss, Samantha Parrington, Sian Bowen, and Annabelle Riggs who all were host bodies to the spirit of Brunnhilde. Samantha Parrington, a previous host of Brunnhilde, later received Valkyrie's powers and became a member of the Defenders herself. An ally and one-time love interest of Thor, she was ranked 65th in Comics Buyer's Guide's "100 Sexiest Women in Comics" list.
The Valkyrie first appeared as a guise of the Enchantress in The Avengers #83 (December 1970) and was created by Roy Thomas and John Buscema. Thomas used another iteration of the character when the Valkyrie persona was placed into a mortal woman named Samantha Parrington as an adversary for the Hulk in The Incredible Hulk #142 (August 1971). Writer Steve Englehart and artist Sal Buscema put the Valkyrie's essence into another mortal woman, Barbara Norriss, in The Defenders #4 and had the character join the group as a longtime member. Englehart has stated that he added the Valkyrie to the Defenders "to provide some texture to the group." Steve Gerber introduced Jack Norriss as the estranged husband of Barbara but the Valkyrie persona had no memory of him. Writers David Anthony Kraft and Ed Hannigan explained some of the Valykrie's backstory in The Defenders #66-68 (Dec. 1978-Feb. 1979). Three years later, writers J. M. DeMatteis and Mark Gruenwald wrote a follow-up story in The Defenders #107-109 (May–July 1982) which resolved remaining plot points from the Kraft and Hannigan story. The Valkyrie remained a member of the Defenders through most of the series' run and was apparently killed when the series ended with issue #152 (Feb. 1986). The character was restored to life in a Doctor Strange storyline in 1988 and made only a few appearance in the 1990s.
The Valkyrie's Asgardian iteration was restored in a one-shot comic book and the character appeared regularly throughout the Secret Avengers series, from issue #1 (July 2010) through its final issue #37 (March 2013). Valkyrie appears in the 2013 series Fearless Defenders by Cullen Bunn and Will Sliney.
Brunnhilde was selected by Odin, King of the Gods of the realm of Asgard, to lead the Valkyrior (the Choosers of the Slain), a group of warrior goddesses who would appear over the battlefields of mortal worshippers of the Asgardian gods and choose which of the fallen were worthy to be taken to Valhalla, the land of the honored dead. Brunnhilde served capably in this capacity for centuries.
According to a sentient, disembodied eye that claimed to have once belonged to Odin, the Asgardian monarch once gave his son Thor the mortal identity of the warrior Siegmund. Circumstances forced Odin to decree that Siegmund must be slain. Brunnhilde, recognizing that Odin was acting against his true wishes, sought to protect Siegmund, but Odin himself then caused Siegmund's death. Brunnhilde helped Siegmund's pregnant lover, Sieglinde get to safety. As punishment for her defiance, Odin removed Brunnhilde's Asgardian powers and immortality and cast her into a trance. She was eventually awakened by Siegfried, the son of Siegmund and Sieglinde and another mortal incarnation of Thor.
Brunnhilde and Siegfried became lovers, and she made him invulnerable so long as his back was not turned on his foe. Siegfried fell under the influence of magic and betrayed her. He was later murdered, and Brunnhilde, still in love with him, leapt into his blazing funeral pyre (this part of her background was based on the Volsunga saga). Odin restored both of them to life, restoring their Asgardian roles and powers, but removing their memories of their earthly lives. It is unclear how much truth, if any, there is to this account by the eye.
Brunnhilde and her fellow Valkyries continued to gather heroic mortal warriors for Valhalla until roughly a millennium ago, when Odin was forced to cease virtually all interaction with the Earth in accordance with a pact that he and the leaders of Earth's other pantheons of gods made with the extraterrestrial Celestials. From then onward, the Valkyries could only choose slain heroes from among fallen Asgardian warriors. Brunnhilde was bitter over being barred from choosing warriors on Earth and roamed Asgard in pursuit of something meaningful to do. In a tavern on the outskirts of Marmoragard, Brunnhilde encountered Amora the Enchantress, who offered her a life of adventure. For several weeks Brunnhilde accompanied the Enchantress on her conquests. Brunnhilde soon discovered Amora's immoral nature and tried to end their partnership. In response the Enchantress trapped Brunnhilde within a mystic crystal of souls. While Brunnhilde's body remained in suspended animation, her immortal soul became Amora's plaything. Over the centuries the Enchantress used Brunnhilde's spiritual essence to give the Valkyrie’s powers to herself or to her pawns.
Specific instances of Amora's exploitation of the Valkyrie before recent years are not yet known. The first time the Enchantress assumed the Valkyrie's physical aspect in recent years was in a plot to lead a handful of female superhumans against the male Avengers as the Lady Liberators. Her true identity was discovered and her plan thwarted. Months later, the Enchantress bestowed the Valkyrie's power upon a socialite named Samantha Parrington in an attempt to get revenge on the Hulk.
Finally, a woman driven mad by being trapped in another mystical dimension, Barbara Norriss, was given the Valkyrie's power and consciousness by the Enchantress to help her then-allies, the group of superhumans called the Defenders, escape from the clutches of the sorceress Casiolena. Amora did not undo her spell on Norriss after Casiolena's defeat. As a result, Norriss' body now possessed Brunnhilda's consciousness, appearance, and powers, while Norriss' own mental essence was trapped in Brunnhilde's real body in Asgard. Aware that she was an immortal essence in a mortal woman's body, the Valkyrie briefly left the Defenders in an attempt to discover Barbara Norriss' past. She meets Norriss' father, Alvin Denton, shortly before his death and then returns to the Defenders.
It was not until a minor Asgardian warrior named Ollerus attempted to take over Valhalla that the Valkyrie’s two mixed aspects met for the first time. Brunnhilde’s mental essence trapped in Norriss’s transformed body, fought Norriss’ mental essence trapped in Brunnhilde’s real body. At the end of that encounter, the Valkyrie’s body, still possessed by Norriss’ mind, was consigned to Niffleheim, the realm inhabited by the spirits of the non-heroic Asgardian dead, while Brunnhilde’s mind in Norriss’ transformed body accompanied the Defenders, who had made the other dimensional journey with her, back to Earth.
For reasons yet unknown, Brunnhilde was not concerned at this time about reuniting her mind with her true body. It was not until Barbara Norriss’ body was murdered that the Valkyrie's spirit and mind were inadvertently freed from their mortal host. With the help of Doctor Strange's magic, Brunnhilde regained her true body, which was rescued from Niffleheim by the Enchantress. Back in her real body, Brunnhilde regained her full memory and normal warrior personality as well. Brunnhilde then battled Amora and banished her to the crystal of souls. Feeling estranged from Asgard in general and Odin in particular for their neglect of her centuries-long plight, Brunnhilde chose to return to Earth with the Defenders.
Odin placed the dangerously powerful self-styled goddess Moondragon into Brunnhilde's charge. Brunnhilde was to teach Moondragon humility, and Moondragon served alongside Brunnhilde in the Defenders. Brunnhilde was to take action against Moondragon should she again become a menace. Eventually Moondragon reformed, but later she fell once again under the malevolent influence of the alien entity called the Dragon of the Moon. Moondragon attacked the Defenders, but Brunnhilde, given temporary additional powers by Odin for this occasion, including the power to grow to gigantic stature, opposed her. Brunnhilde summoned other Valkyries to her aid and together with two other Defenders, the Angel and Cloud, they defeated Moondragon but failed to capture her.
Months later Moondragon returned to attack the Defenders. During this encounter, her power was vastly augmented by the alien Beyonder. In order to defeat the Dragon, Brunnhilde and the Eternal called Interloper projected their immortal life forces against it. They were joined by Defenders member Andromeda and the Defenders' former foe Manslaughter, for it was necessary that Brunnhilde's and Interloper's life forces pass through "mortal instruments" in order that Moondragon be defeated as well. Joining hands, the four allies hurled the tremendous power of their combined life forces at the Dragon, Moondragon, and the Gargoyle II, whose body was now under the Dragon's control. Three other Defenders went to rescue endangered innocents, and when they returned, Brunnhilde, Interloper, Andromeda, Manslaughter, Moondragon, and Gargoyle had all seemingly been transformed into statues of ashes and dust, and the Dragon of the Moon was apparently gone.
Brunnhilde was restored to life by Doctor Strange, now in the host body of a woman known as Sian Bowen. The other Defenders, Interloper, Andromeda, and Manslaughter were restored to life as well and they formed the Dragon Circle to battle the Dragon of the Moon. After the Dragon of the Moon was defeated, Brunnhilde returned to Asgard. Brunnhilde was killed in battle just before Loki's destruction of Asgard.
With the return of the Asgardians to Earth, Brunnhilde was next seen as a member of the Secret Avengers. Writer Ed Brubaker confirmed that the Valkyrie on the team was indeed the original Brunnhilde.
After the resurgence of the Asgardian Serpent on Earth and their defeat at Thor's hand, Brunhilde seemingly defects from the Secret Avengers, embarking in a mission to steal and recover for herself the hammers used by the "Worthy", Cul's servants. She later reveals to have stopped consuming the Apples of Idunn, thus lessening her stamina and resilience and reverting to a mortal form, and as a Valkyrior she's able to seal within herself the hammers. She plans to die after the deed is over, so as to banish the worthy from the human plane of existence for the rest of eternity. At the end of the series, the All Mother (Freyja, Gaea, and Idunn) task her with selecting a new group of Valkyries. Only this time the new Valkyries are to be all women from Earth.
Powers and abilities
Valkyrie is the strongest of all Valkyrior. Like all her people, her tissue and bone are several times as dense as the mortal equivalent. Though she is not immortal, she ages far more slowly than humans. Valkyrie is immune to all terrestrial diseases and is resistant to most forms of injury. Her Asgardian physiology grants her superhuman levels of stamina. Valkyrie can perceive the approach of death, in the form of a "deathglow" surrounding a person's body. She doesn't know how death will come but she can tell that it is imminent. Valkyrie can transport herself and a dying or dead body to and from the realm of the dead by willing it. Valkyrie has had extensive training in sword fighting as well as unarmed combat and horseback riding. Her natural fighting ability is among the best of all Asgardian females, matched only by Sif.
Weapons and equipment
Valkyrie carries two weapons of choice.
- An enchanted sword named Dragonfang. A wizard named Kahji-Da was said to have carved the sword from a tooth of an extra-dimensional dragon. The sword eventually passed into the possession of the Ancient One, who in turn gave it to his disciple Doctor Strange. Strange awarded it to the Valkyrie after she had returned the Black Knight's Ebony Blade, which she had been using, to its rightful owner. The sword is virtually indestructible.
- An unnamed iron spear.
Valkyrie (Samantha Parrington)
The Enchantress first transformed Samantha Parrington into the Valkyrie temporarily to gain revenge against the Hulk. On Earth, Pluto and Lorelei much later restored the Valkyrie's powers within Samantha Parrington. Pluto tricked Lorelei though, erasing her memory, draining her powers, and turning her into a duplicate of Valkyrie. While Samantha was used by Pluto to turn Earth into a realm of the dead, Lorelei was found by the Defender Nighthawk, who believed she was the real Valkyrie and made her a Defender, though she never spoke. When the Defenders tried to stop Pluto, Lorelei battled Samantha and was restored to her former self. Samantha was freed from Pluto's control and she became part of the Defenders again as Valkyrie. She and her teammate Hellcat later got an apartment together and Pennington remembered her real name when someone called her by her nickname "Sam". The two superheroines then met her parents, who thought that her transformation into Valkryie was just a phase she was going through. Much to Parrington's chagrin, her parents are proud of her and turned their mansion into the Defenders base.
Ultimate Valkyrie is a 19-year-old girl named Barbara Norris who aspires to play the public role of superhero, despite, at first, having no actual powers or skills. She describes herself as a female Thor, only without the hammer, strength, or weather-powers. When Hank Pym was dismissed from the Ultimates, he decided to join the Defenders, a group of good hearted, but delusional, somewhat farcical individuals enamored with superheroes but without powers or exceptional abilities, which is where he met Barbara, who called herself "Thor-Girl", telling Pym during introductions that while she doesn't have any powers, she is extensively proficient in martial arts. This turned out to be a lie to impress Pym; she later confesses to him that she barely made it to an Orange Belt in karate and it took her several tries to pass the test.
Valkyrie next appears in The Ultimates 3 #1, now apparently super-powered, riding a black Pegasus and wielding a large, supposedly mystical sword that she uses to cleave Venom nearly in two, but seems to have no idea where these powers or weapons came from. At that point, she has been in a romantic live-in relationship with Thor for weeks and despite cultural differences, they are very close and allude to being in love. Since her last appearance, she appears to have been granted super strength and limited invulnerability; other superhuman attributes and abilities remain unknown. She speaks with a distinct valley girl accent, and while she does not seems to be the most intelligent of her teammates, she makes up for it with her loyalty, especially to Thor, and her big heart, along with being very powerful. At several points, she makes references to having lived a quiet normal human life before becoming superhuman. She suggests she is more akin to Thor than it may seem, possibly meaning they may have some sort of shared Asgardian heritage. Her deepest fear is returning to the powerless, poor, and somewhat comically ordinary existence she had before. When confronted with this fear by the illusion-casting Mastermind, she is broken free of the illusion, just before her two captors decide to assault her sexually, by a shadowy figure who claims to be the source of her new powers; she then retaliates by killing Mastermind and dismembering his partner Pyro, taking both his hands off at the wrists with her sword.
Later, in Ultimatum, it is revealed that Valkyrie was killed and transported to Valhalla, the Asgardian afterlife for fallen warriors run by Hela, an Asgardian goddess, who is presented as above most other Asgardian gods in power and station. Thor learns of this and transports himself to Hela's dimension, demanding he let Valkyrie live again. Hela, then states that if he is able to overcome the challenge presented to him, he may bring Valkyrie back to the land of the living. In the middle of the ensuing battle, Thor finds that Captain America's soul is also there, having been killed in the real world as well. Thor and Capt. America win the challenge and Hela grants Thor's request, but with the catch that once a soul has entered Hela's realm, it cannot leave without being substituted, so Thor gives up his soul so that Valkyrie may live and Hela returns her to Earth, whole and unharmed (Capt. America is given a reprieve on his soul as well and is returned to the land of the living, but how this worked with the "Soul Quota" stipulation is not addressed), while Thor's soul remains in the afterlife. Valkyrie, enraged and heart broken at the loss and sacrifice of her love, joins the battle once more and attacks Magneto while trying to receive Thor's hammer and severs his arm. Magneto then uses his powers to slit her throat. She is then briefly shown, still alive, until Magneto collapses the ceiling on her. Her fate is unknown until New Ultimates where it is revealed she now wields Thor's hammer. She loses it in battle with the Defenders who now have superpowers due to Loki's intervenence. She is killed in the battle whichs allows Thor to resurrect and face Loki. During the battle, Loki is suddenly killed by a spear thrown by Valkyrie. Although apparently alive again, she reveals that she is now a servant of Hela and departs with Loki's body but not before asking Thor to defend the Earth to which she once belonged.
In other media
- Valkyrie appears in The Super Hero Squad Show episode "Mental Organism Designed Only for Kissing" voiced by Michelle Trachtenberg. Thor falls in love with her when she helps Ms. Marvel, Thor, and Iron Man fight Abomination, Fin Fang Foom, and MODOK. When Iron Man tries to invite Valkyrie out to a "Ride of the Valkyries" performance, Valkyrie declines noting Iron Man's failure to gather the Infinity Sword Fractals.
- Valkyrie appears in The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes episode "The Fall of Asgard", voiced by Colleen O'Shaughnessey. She, Sif, and the other Valkyries rescue Ant-Man and an unconscious Wasp from Ymir and the Frost Giants.
- Brunnhilde appears in the Hulk vs. Thor segment of the Hulk Vs DVD, voiced by an uncredited Nicole Oliver. She and her Valkyrior troops defend Asgard from an attack by the Hulk, who had separated from Bruce Banner by Loki. She is immediately swatted aside by Hulk when she attacks him.
- Brunnhilde appears in Thor: Tales of Asgard voiced by Cathy Weseluck.
- Valkyrie appears as an unlockable character in Marvel: Avengers Alliance, only accessible after completion of the tasks of Spec Ops 5. She would later become a permanent recruit.
- As stated above, Brunnhilde, the Valkyrie is based on the character of the same name in the Nibelungenlied. The story had many incarnations; Richard Wagner's opera version of it (Der Ring des Nibelungen) shows a Brunnhilde the character's creators most likely have used for the conception of the Marvel persona and Marvel's free adaptation of Wagner's opera in Thor #296-300 features Marvel's Brunnhilde in that role, with Marvel's Thor as Siegmund.
- When Thor went insane with warrior madness, his insanity manifested as a woman, also called the Valkyrie. This Valkyrie had no relation to the regular Valkyries and had a different appearance.
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