Jane Foster’s tenure as Thor was well loved among fans, and with good reason: Jane was a really strong character, and Aaron wrote her incredibly well. Sadly, as happens to all things in big 2 comics, this fantastic status quo would have to be undone. Jane was no longer Thor, the Odinson is back, and everything is back to “normal.” But unlike what tends to happen to legacy characters who get thrown aside for the originals, Jane was not ignored. The massive War of the Realms ended by giving Jane a new status quo that wasn’t on the sidelines, as the sole Valkyrie for the dead heroes of Asgard. Bringing Al Ewing and CAFU onto the book beside him, Jason Aaron has really done a great job setting a proper niche for a character who many feared would be forgotten after his tenure on Thor.
This first trade of Valkyrie does everything a first volume should do. Jane’s new status quo is introduced and explained extremely well, and the reason for her being a Valkyrie and her purpose is well defined. Ewing and Aaron do a fantastic job writing Jane and making it clear very quickly who she is and why we should like her. It helps that Jane is already awesome, but the writers do deserve a lot of credit here. CAFU’s art is a major help as well — the designs and art in the book are consistently gorgeous. Jane is very expressive, and CAFU draws everything in a lifelike manner without ever reaching the uncanny valley.
The high concept of the series is really strong as well — it’s all about death and Jane’s relationship with it. Jane, a cancer survivor who battled against death every day of her life, who lost her family in a horrible tragedy, and who is currently a practicing doctor in a morgue, is now the one transporting deceased souls to the afterlife. Any one of these situations would be enough to give someone a complicated relationship with death, but Jane’s got a real doozy — and it only gets deepened as the series goes on. Ewing and Aaron dive into this complicated relationship, and Jane comes out the other side a far more fleshed out character than she was even before this. This new position as Valkyrie has been a fantastic move for the character.
The strongest part of this book, though, is one of Ewing’s greatest strengths as a writer at Marvel — his deft grasp of the universe and its characters, and his love of incorporating them in his own stories. Between the first issue’s inclusion of Blue Streak and his gang the Fast Five, Bullseye asking if Jane had ever dated Daredevil, and everything around the Grim Reaper, this book really feels like a really fun romp through the Marvel Universe, something Ewing does frequently to great effect. Jane gets to team up with some more obscure characters like Lisa Halloran as well as more well-known ones like Doctor Strange. It’s quite enjoyable, and every issue incorporates something new into the book that keeps it fresh.
The art in the book is incredible. Not just CAFU and Aburtov, who do the majority of it, but the guest artists in #3 all provide a distinct style that’s quite different from the rest of the book but create an atmosphere that fits each location perfectly. Ramón K. Pérez, Cian Tormey, Roberto Poggi, and Frazer Irving are all fantastic artists in their own right, and all put in some of their best work on their short stints in this book. The book is a visual treat, and the storytelling from all the artists is phenomenal.
This book is everything it’s hyped up to be and more. Ewing and Aaron work together incredibly well, and all the artists add their own flair to the book that keeps it enjoyable every page. The book is compelling, funny, and just an all-around great experience. As an introduction to the character or as the next chapter for her fans, this is a must-read for those interested in Jane Foster.