Valkyrie: Jane Foster #2 Review

by Charles Martin on August 21, 2019

Valkyrie: Jane Foster #2 Review
Writers: Jason Aaron & Al Ewing
Artist: CAFU
Colourist: Jesus Aburtov
Letterer/Producer: Joe Sabino
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Some personal context: Bullseye is a strong contender for my least-favourite Marvel villain. His power (neatly summarized in this issue as "he turns whatever he's holding into a deadly weapon") constantly strains my disbelief. I usually find his characterization - relentless bloodlust and ever-mysterious backstory all balled up in a black onesie - hopelessly juvenile.

This issue is one long Bullseye fight. One that pits him, Mr. Kill-Ya-With-A-Toothpick-For-Literally-No-Good-Reason, against a pair of gods.

And I love it.

It works because the story's told by one of the most formidable creative teams I've ever seen. Jason Aaron, Al Ewing, CAFU, and Jesus Aburtov? These guys could rewrite the phonebook and I'd buy three copies - even if my parents had died in a tragic phonebook accident.

For a start, the writers have a take on Bullseye that minimizes the personal gripes above. They slot him into a perfect role: nearly a natural disaster, a senseless force of destruction that cannot be understood, only stopped. He's the love-child of Don Rickles and a tornado; all he does is tell mean jokes and kill folks. 

(And his supernatural kill-ability is a lot easier to swallow when he's swinging a magic sword.)

Embracing the flatness of the villain leaves glorious acres of panel space to devote to the protagonist. This title's debut issue also focused heavily on Jane Foster, and this one retains the tight POV clamped firmly to her shoulder.

But where Valkyrie #1 was all about Jane Foster, this one is all about Valkyrie. And it succeeds - wildly, wonderfully, unmissably - because it holds tight to Jane and brings us along for the ride as she learns what being Valkyrie really means.

It's an incredible journey both because of the stops it makes, and because Jane is firmly in control every step of the way. Brunnhilde and Heimdall gave her some hints, but here, she works out Valkyrie-ing on her own. She has to. And the creators make it feel not just rational, but inevitable.

I could discuss the details endlessly. But I won't, because they are uniformly excellent and that much better when they unfold as a cavalcade of pleasant surprises.

CAFU's art is deceptively brilliant. The story flows from panel to panel so effortlessly, the emotions and impacts are so clear, there's not a single moment of visual uncertainty. And that's where the deception comes in. I'm looking at a story told with seamless clarity that perfectly complements the dialogue and captions. It's tempting to overlook the art entirely because it's so tightly integrated with the script.

Fortunately, some visual high points break the deception and force me to pay attention to the art's greatness. Valkyrie's "death vision" is a vital part of the story, employed in a meaningful and revealing way throughout the fight. And CAFU makes the most of that supernatural addition to the otherwise-realistic visuals. 

The magic looks properly magical. It performs artistic magic of its own; the unreal addition elevates all of the art into a realm of heightened reality - which is exactly where a story about a mortal woman coming to grips with godly powers should be.

To make the action properly visceral, CAFU relies on a lot of close-up panels with minimal backgrounds. They call for plenty of adroit colour work to provide motion and depth, and Jesus Aburtov delivers in spades. 

His work is vital to bringing out the full potential of the "death vision," too. The deaths themselves need unearthly, high-intensity purple, while Valkyrie's magical POV is indicated with a red tint around the edges of the appropriate panels. These powerful shades need to wash smoothly over the vibrant colours already in use for the "real" world - and that's exactly what they do. The full "death vision" effect harmonizes better than it has any right to.

Valkyrie #2 builds magnificently on the previous issue's work by turning a cover-to-cover fight into a meaningful evolution of Jane Foster and her relationship with her new powers. Narratively and visually, this comic makes magic into reality. An inherently unbelievable story - a humble doctor using god-powers to defeat a homicidal maniac with a stolen magic sword - becomes the most believable thing in the world thanks to the creative team's consummate storytelling skill.

Our Score:


A Look Inside


Charles Martin's picture
Jane Foster comparing her heroing to Spider-Man's becomes a running theme, and I love it.