Pride Month Spotlight: Valkyrie
Follow Rūna's millennia-long journey of discovery as she embraces her destiny as a Valkyrie.
A long, long time ago, back when Odin was still a boy, there were nine Valkyries to protect the Gods. Before the War of the Realms destroyed the legendary warrior goddesses, Rūna and her comrades guarded the Asgardian pantheon and escorted worthy souls to Valhalla. Rūna was the original wielder of Jarnbjorn, a Dwarven-crafted battle ax of Asgardian steel that’s blessed with the blood of the God of Thunder and capable of slicing through the Celestials’ all-powerful armor.
But history (and Rūna herself) would soon forget the role she played in protecting innocent lives and the balance of the divine cosmos. While escorting Alta, the love of her life, to Valhalla, the warrior goddess encountered a decapitated Celestial bound to Knull, the God of the Symbiotes. The headless being trapped Alta’s soul and Rūna inside him, in a space between realms – an endless loop of misery with other entities slain by the All-Black – for a millennium. In time, Rūna even forgot her name.
However, in KING OF BLACK: RETURN OF THE VALKYRIES (2021) #1, Dr. Jane Foster discovered Rūna. Operating as the only living Valkyrie, Jane was bringing Sentry’s soul to the gates of Valhalla when, in the process, his soul was absorbed into the headless being, which inadvertently freed Rūna. Although Sentry became trapped in the body of the Celestial, Rūna saved Jane Foster from succumbing to its darkness. This battle marked the first time in the Marvel Universe Rūna appeared, as written by Jason Aaron and Torunn Grønbekk with artwork by Nina Vakueva.
Throughout the miniseries’ following issues, Rūna struggled. Memories flooded back to her out of order. Her identity was lost to time. She only saw her failures, haunted by the fact she failed her dead girlfriend. After a lot of drinks and raiding Vanlandi's pantry for more mead and butter, Jane Foster’s horse, Mr. Horse, convinced Rūna to pick up her battle ax again and destroy the headless creature – and Knull – for good. Rūna and Jane Foster succeeded, allowing Alta and all previously captured souls to finally be freed. After bidding farewell to Alta’s soul, Rūna became determined to discover who she is.
Grønbekk and Aaron took a more in-depth look at Rūna’s backstory in THE MIGHTY VALKYRIES (2021) #1-5, showcasing a reluctant but nevertheless incredibly loyal and seasoned Super Hero. By the end of the miniseries’ arc, the millennia-old Valkyrie gained back the memories of who she was – even if she still wrestles with the stiff consequences of being a Valkyrie.
In the miniseries, Rūna sought out an oracle, who ended up being an old God named Kvasir. Through his help, Rūna learned her name. In part to thanks him – and also to fulfill her moral obligation as a Valkyrie – she freed the all-seeing entity, but confided that she’s exhausted by the “chaos” that the gods’ whims, desires, and boredom bring to the nine realms.
Despite Rūna’s pessimism, she stuck by the optimistic Jane Foster to help her with her latest mission: a truth that Kvasir foresaw as something that will eventually be healing for Rūna. After visiting Asgard and schooling Thor on some local lore, Rūna made peace with her destiny (for now). She descended into the depths of Hel to help Jane stop a battle between Hela, Loki, Managarmr/More, and the cacophony of toddler gods that they too will now need to protect.
Rūna’s journey of self-discovery has only just begun in the Marvel Universe. MARVEL VOICES: PRIDE (2022) #1 gave the world-weary champion a break from battle when she taught Asgard about the fun of hosting a Pride event for their LGBTQ+ community. Written by Ira Madison III and with artwork by Lorenzo Susi, “Over the Rainbow” depicted a curious and celebratory side to the often-broody warrior. In the short story, Rūna announced to Loki and Thor that she wanted to host Asgard’s first-ever Pride celebration. In a surprising turn of events, the story even teased a make out session between her and the genderfluid Loki.
On sale now, JANE FOSTER & THE MIGHTY THOR (2022) #1 shows Rūna still adjusting to the on-call cosmic demands of being a Valkyrie – while getting back into the swing of modern dating. Also penned by Rūna co-creator Grønbekk, the upcoming five-part miniseries reunites Rūna with Mr. Horse and Jane Foster as they continue their quest to protect the Golden Realm and intercede when the Gods misbehave.
JANE FOSTER & THE MIGHTY THOR (2022) #1 by Torunn Grønbekk and Michael Dowling is now on sale.
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