Valkyrie: Jane Foster #3 Review

by Charles Martin on September 18, 2019

Valkyrie: Jane Foster #3 Review
Writers: Jason Aaron & Al Ewing
Artists: CAFU, Ramón Pérez, Cian Tormey with Roberto Poggi & Frazer Irving
Colourists: Jesus Aburtov & Frazer Irving
Letterer: Joe Sabino
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Heimdall is dead. He becomes Jane Foster's first client for proper Valkyrie services as she fulfills his desire to find a final resting place beyond Valhalla.

It means a wild ride through heaven and hell -- in the forms of Heven and Hades -- and more than a little combat.

If you thought there wouldn't be fighting on an Asgardian's last ride … well, c'mon. Asgardians! They're not gonna go quiet as long as their sword-arms are working.

The itinerary pits Valkyrie and Heimdall against the Angels and then against Pluto's demons. The action is exciting and visually well-rendered; this book goes long on double spreads to successfully capture the otherworldly grandeur of the afterlives. The collaborative art team does a shockingly good job of keeping the characters consistent as the worlds around them change wildly.

This trip is also an excuse for a little world-building. The Heven section is a compelling reminder that there's a fascinating situation there lying fallow until somebody picks up the torch of a solo Angela series again. And the visit to Hades reveals that sinister forces were left behind following the Olympian pantheon's exodus from the Marvel universe (it happened in Avengers: No Road Home).

There's ample space for Jane Foster to continue unpacking her new Valkyrie situation. This happens through introspective narration (including a super-rare, super-heavy mention of the fact she has a dead son, yikes), but it's also demonstrated in the action and dialogue. Valkyrie thoroughly establishes she is in command of this war-ride.

It almost feels like Heimdall is being shorted in this, his final story. But then the ride reaches its destination, the Far Shore, and the already-impressive visuals take a quantum leap.

I'm generally optimistic about "painterly" comics artists, but Frazer Irving is one of that school who hasn't really excited me in the past. This script loads the bases to his advantage. The Far Shore needs to be a place of nearly-unimaginable strangeness. Mr. Irving delivers exactly that effect with chilling deep-space backgrounds and gorgeous mood lighting on the carefully laid-out characters. The sight of it gave me literal goosebumps.

The finale is epic stuff, but I shouldn't give the impression that the more conventional artwork around it is mere run-of-the-mill drawing. There's remarkable creativity on display throughout. Look, for example, at the way the first Heven spread is carefully blocked so that the panel divisions are formed entirely out of organic components of the scene.

Beyond the mechanics of plot and characterization, the script by Jason Aaron & Al Ewing indulges in some bonafide prose artistry. The narration is sensual in the most literal way, adding poetic perceptions to the action-packed visuals to create all-senses impressions of profoundly different worlds.

It snaps back to reality after Heimdall's farewell, leaving Jane to ponder more prosaic challenges -- like where do you even keep a wingéd horse in Manhattan? And the final pages serve up a little plot foreshadowing when they reveal the man behind Bullseye.

The cooldown is absolutely necessary after the supernatural heights of Heimdall's farewell. It's still a bit jarring (in a not-entirely-good way) to hop from poetically pondering the ineffability of death to comic relief about urban stabling issues.

Valkyrie taking Heimdall on his last ride to battle is an action-packed spectacle. It's solidly illustrated throughout and there's ample attention paid to the ongoing evolution of Jane Foster. A gorgeously-painted finale gives Heimdall's last call the gravitas it deserves. This is a comic about death, but it proves that that subject can be awe-inspiring and beautiful as well as terrifying.

Our Score:


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Charles Martin's picture
In most of Al Ewing's comics, it's easy to forget he's British. But then he gives a new character a punishingly thick Geordie accent and you remember, "Aw, aye, 'e's been wi'in gobbin' distance of the Tyne, 'e 'as."