Writers: Jason Aaron & Torunn Gronbekk
Colors: Jesus Aburtov
Lettering: VC’s Joe Sabino
Cover: Mahmud Asrar & Matthew Wilson
Release Date: February 19th, 2020
Reviewer: Steve Baum
Jane Foster has defeated the Grim Reaper, Bullseye, and even rescued death itself. But a new evil, the likes of which she’s never seen, is emerging. Will even The Avengers, Spider-Man, and the new All-Father himself be enough to help her conquer it? Let’s dive into this week’s all-new VALKYRIE: JANE FOSTER #8 by Jason Aaron and Torunn Gronbekk and find out.
Taking place before the events of the new Thor 2020 relaunch, we open with some sort of hellish ritual involving the sap of Yggdrasil, the World Tree. The scene is a mix of Alien Covenant and Hellraiser. Just a page. Ok, you have my interest. As Jane catches up with a friend, the fun back and forth dialogue was just enough, and not over the top. Anyone who’s ever read a Bendis story knows it’s easy to overdo conversational pages, but the mix of Jane speaking with her buddy and Valkyrie interjecting narrative thoughts was interlaced very well. The scene was just enough.
Cue demon-hell-dragon-hounds pouring through a freshly formed crack in the earth itself! The creative team does a good job of constantly re-imagining what Valkyrie’s new “All-Weapon”, Undrjarn, can do, and we get a cool spiral rendering of her breaking out of the clutches of whatever the hel (Get it? One L) these things are. It might sound like a naughty Nordic undergarment, but it’s still pretty cool having a weapon that can do literally whatever you want it to.
We check-in via Iron Man as heroes spanning the globe assemble to battle these creatures; whatever’s happening here is happening everywhere. Spider-Man and Tony’s dialogue is witty and sounds like them, without crossing into a cheesy or try-hard joke-fest. Each hero is drawn and colored beautifully, and the action flows well. There is a nice scene of “Cap being Cap” as Valkyrie wins his instant approval by putting one civilian before anything else. Thor shows up in the nick of time to smite the merged, mega-mutant creature and save his friends. Did Dr. Strange just make a Thor: Ragnarok Jeff Goldblum joke? (sparkles). Spider-Man makes a quick heartfelt reference to his horse Buttercup from the War of the Realms. In a rare moment, we see that the heroes can’t always save everyone as one man dies in Jane’s arms. As the heroes gain control of the immediate situation, Thor and Valkyrie venture into the earth to find out more about this new evil. We get a brief but effective flashback introducing us to the “Rokvva”, or the anti-life. Thor does what Thor does best; he smashes the glowing corpse with his hammer. However, all it accomplishes is to transform Thor himself into a carrier of this death, this anti-life. This does not bode well…
The art kicks off by really conveying a sense of misfortune and evil, as the nameless figure begins the ritual; the colors glow and are bleak at the same time. The panel of Jane transforming into Valkyrie really pops, especially in the digital format with the backlighting of the screen. The same can be said for the final page, with Thor emerging as an almost monochromatic, silvery death-bringing god of anti-thunder. The art had a sort of ‘sheen’ to it. Almost a polished finish that I’ve never seen before, but it worked. The art and color shined when it needed to, and expressed bleakness and a void when it needed to.
This was without question the best issue of this series, by far. The dialogue and narrative were crisp and effective, and all the jokes landed without feeling that cheesy. The writers have a solid grasp on what makes each character themselves, and you could tell who’s speaking without needing to see the corresponding word-bubbles. The art is above average with a few panels that I stared at for a moment and appreciated. I’m definitely on board for where this arc is headed, and for the first time since it’s inception, I can’t wait to read the next issue.