For some time now, Jane Foster has been the last of the Valkyries. That may not last, however, as the new tie-in King In Black: Return of the Valkyries begins its five-part story arc this week. Jason Aaron and Torunn Grønbekk are back to write this series after an exciting run on Valkyrie: Jane Foster. Instead of building up a solo hero’s journey in an unfamiliar world, they aim to reveal how the Valkyries return with a few twists.
This issue has a deep mysteriousness to it. It opens on a familiar visage of Valkyries flying a fleet of their Pegasuses (Pegasi?) into what appears to be certain doom. From here we are introduced to a mysterious Valkyrie who seems to be a bit lost in time. We already know from Marvel she’s a new Valkyrie, but part of the fun in this issue is figuring out her personality. This character pops in and out of the book and as we get to learn who she is as person, we get to see how events Jane Foster is involved in will lead to a connecting moment.
Much of this book is in fact about Jane Foster helping Sentry. You get to see their first interaction in the preview, but as of King in Black #1 Sentry is now dead and it’s Jane’s duty to guide Sentry. Much of this book is a good starting place for fans unfamiliar with the yellow super-man character as it touches on his previous life and the kindness within him. A conflict arises, though, which ties into the main event, serving as a linchpin for the bigger story.
Nina Vakueva draws this issue with Tamra Bonvillain on colors. There are interesting things done to show reality-shattering effects, usually with oddly shaped floating things or shards of red glass, since this issue takes place in unreal places. Jane’s yellow chained mace always looks great, reminding us of her angelic powers. There’s quite a cool double-page splash of the main threat of this book that’s so twisted and odd to look at you’ll linger longer than usual. It’s yet another reminder this book is taking place in a place where our reality and its physics don’t matter.
The layout design and general angles on things do leave something to be desired. The dynamic nature of a page is lost throughout, with odd side angles of characters on a flat background that come off as floating heads, or a bar scene that doesn’t quite place the environment and pushes in a boring angle, only to push out to reveal very little. The art tends to render the figures in the scene and nothing much else save for effects. It makes the book feel flat and uninteresting.
As far as first issues go, the story is laid out, though it takes its time to get there. Playing the “who could this be” card makes the reader have to wait for satisfying answers on purpose, but there isn’t quite enough here to dig in and digest. It’s all setup, a little backstory, and characters standing about. Customary of miniseries tie-in stories like this, it reads like they are stretching things a bit to fit the five-issue arc.
King In Black: Return of the Valkyries holds a lot of promise for what could be a fascinating angle on the realm of death while the current harbinger of death, Knull, looms over Earth. This issue does just enough to whet your appetite for what is to come, but it does so in a flat way that doesn’t quite deliver enough to keep the momentum going.
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