DEFENDERS #4 (1973): Valkyrie!

First appearance of ValkyrieAt the end of last issue, Barbara Denton was rescued from another dimension after having been raped by demons, over and over, for years.  It turns out, she’s actually Barbara Norriss, who The Enchantress turned into Valkyrie a while ago (see Hulk #142)

In order to bring her back to sanity, Enchantress does so again.  And it turns out, becoming a Norse Demigodess is a cure for PTSD.  It’s not entirely clear how much of Barbara Norriss is still inside the body after Valkyrie is created. It seems to be kind of like Don Blake and Thor, where one takes over the form, rather than Captain Marvel and Rick Jones, where the two personalities can talk to each other regardless of who occupies the body.

Strange, Namor and even Hulk discuss the ethics of allowing Enchantress to basically take a mortal woman and completely change her being, but in the end Enchantress does what Enchantress wants.  Because that’s how she do.

The result is a true feminist character-perhaps Marvel’s first-who sees herself as an equal to men.

All this is wrapped in a dimension led by an evil female queen.

Due to her swords-and-sandals nature, Valkyrie takes an instant shine to Black Knight.

Yes, Black Knight.  The character who shows up often, even though nobody is ever asking for him.

Enchantress sees how Valk fancies Black Knight and, in the name of honoring her love for him, Enchantress turns Black Knight into a stone statue.

This is probably the best thing to come out of this issue because he’s a terrible character and I hate him.  It’s also hilarious that Enchantress does this because he’s such a hottie and Val likes him so much.  I’m not a huge Enchantress fan, but this makes me love her.  Too bad he won’t stay stoned forever.

IMG_5526After this, Valkyrie gets to take over stewardship of his flying horse, which makes her inherently more boss.

After the thret has passed, Valkyrie says she wants to join the team and Namor expresses his repeated refrain that it’s not a team, which is just another thing that made this book so different and fun.  Then Strange boasts that they’re already super powerful, so why do they need Valkyrie?

In the end, though, they keep her around.

Creators: Steve Englehart and Sal Buscema
Grade: A+.  Very important in that it makes Valkyrie a much more permanent and  fully-formed character.

For the complete history of the MU, year by year, go here.
And see my Ratings of Runs on comics here.

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