Subject 05: Valkyrie AKA: Barbara Norris

Disambiguation

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With all the debate these days about first appearances and key issues, it’s tough to know what to buy or invest in. One of the most complex first appearances to sort out is Marvel's character, Valkyrie. This history of first appearances is like a train wreck. Marvel recently announced Valkyrie will be in the next Thor movie and it seems like it will be “Brunnhilde”, rather than “Barbara Norris”…which just makes this much more confusing.cbsi_valkyrie_003

Avengers #83 This is the first appearance of a character named Valkyrie. Which is really just the Enchantress disguised as Valkyrie. That's an important distinction. Regardless of how the next Thor movie plays out, this issue will always be key and sought after.

So this brings up the question: “What is Valkyrie?”. Brunnhilde was a warrior whose “sprite” is thousands of years old. Her sprite is what Enchantress uses to change women into “Valkyrie”. This is important to understand when sorting out this mess of what to buy.

Incredible Hulk #142. Enchantress possesses a woman named Samantha Parrington with the Spirit of Valkyrie. This is the second full appearance of a character named Valkyrie. Since most people consider either Barbara Norris or Brunnhilde to be Valkyrie, IH #142 is often overlooked. I believe this is the only appearance of Samantha Parrington as Valkyrie prior to the Defenders Vol 2 series by writer Kurt Busiek and penciller Erik Larsen.

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Barbara Norris’ key appearances in continuity start with Incredible Hulk #125. It’s the first cameo, one panel in a crowd, not called by name. Incredible Hulk #126 is the first full Barbara Norris appearance. Norris is who many fans think of when they hear the name Valkyrie. Norris dies in the 1997 Valkyrie one-shot. Which seems to be a part of the whole Valkyrie thing at Marvel. A woman is Valkyrie, she dies, someone else pops up, rinse and repeat.

Something that I did find very interesting is writer/creator Roy Thomas either wrote or was editor on all the major appearances. Samantha, Barbara, Enchantress…this whole mess of Valkyries was his doing.

Barbara Norris was possessed for 103 issues of the first Defenders series by Brunnhilde’s sprite. I'm not sure how much of that Thomas was editor for. He wasn't involved in Defenders #107-109.

Defenders #107 The Death of Valkyrie (not really), part one of a three part story. It should have been called “Brunnhilde gets her original body and readers get some more origin backstory”, because that's really all it was.cbsi_valkyrie_002Defenders #108 First Brunnhilde as Valkyrie, cliffhanger cameo, last page. This is the first time Brunnhilde is not a spirit possessing another woman, a disguised character, a flashback or something like that. She finally has her “rightful body” in continuity for the first time as a Marvel character.

Defenders #109 First full appearance of Brunnhilde as Valkyrie. Further explanation reveals Odin is responsible for her imprisonment/banishment. This just adds to the confusing origin; however, now and from this point forth, Brunnhilde is Valkyrie… Well except in Defenders Vol 2… And the Ultimates Universe.

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To me, the Ultimates is kinda like the NEW 52 in the sense that first appearances are fun to chase down.  In the Ultimates universe there is no sprite of Brunnhilde. Valkyrie is just a huge Thor fangirl, literally. Her name is Barbara Norris and she has no powers…at first. She eventually gets powers which is later explained to have come from Loki.

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Ultimates 2 #6 The first appearance of this version of Barbara Norris/Valkyrie is a flashback Hank Pym recalls when he first meet the Defenders. The Defenders in this universe are about as super powered as a group of cosplayers, again, literally. Barbara Norris has no powers at this point.

Ultimates 3 #1-5 She’s a minor character in this miniseries. She’s featured prominently on some of the variant covers. She does have powers now. As near as I can tell, issue one may be the first time she does.

For the variant hounds out there, here's a few Valkyrie books to chase down.

Ultimates 3 #1 2008 Second Printing Variant

Ultimates 3 #2 2008 Michael Turner Variant

Ultimates 3 #4 2008 David Finch Variant

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Valkyrie #1 One-Shot 2010 This book only has a print run of roughly 16,172 copies. 

Secret Avengers #3  2010 1:75 MIKE DEODATO variant. Speculation is that there's around 1000 copies or less.

Secret Avengers #4 2010 CHRIS BACHALO 1:15 “Woman of Marvel Variant”. Speculation is that there's around 5000 copies or less.

Secret Avengers #4 2010 ART ADAMS Variant. I’ve seen images of this cover but never any proof that this book was really ever printed. I've never seen a photo of the actual comic book. If it’s out in the wild, it’s gotta be super rare.

Secret Avengers #6 2010 JELENA KEVIC-DJURDJEVIC Woman of Marvel Variant.

I think I'm going to stop here. There are over 840 assorted Valkyrie appearances in the Marvel Universe. The ones I've mentioned are just the tip of the iceberg. She's prominently featured in Fear Itself: The Fearless, Defenders Vol 1 & 2, Fearless Defenders, Secret Avengers and Ultimate Ultimates, just to name a few.

Just to be crystal clear about this so there is no confusion, I write this column every week for one reason, to help all of you make better buying choices. I say this at least once every single week too: YOU ARE THE MARKET! You ultimately decide what you buy. Nobody's holding a gun to your head to run out and buy these books. I pass this information on to help educate you all, not to profit. I got sick of getting screwed by shady claims about appearances. I started tracking this stuff down to figure out what was really going on. This should be one of many things you read while deciding what to buy. It should NEVER be the only thing you factor in, or a substitute for doing your own research.

Till next week my friends, stay sharp and beware of false prophets.

 

Update: 10/15/17-

Marvel Super Heroes #93: Reprints Incredible Hulk #142 which is the Samantha Parrington version of Valkyrie.

Defenders #2 (2001) Cover B: Arthur Adams variant cover. This entire Defenders series is the Samantha Parrington verison of Valkyrie, not to be confused with the Barbara Norris version of the character.

Update: 03/24/19

Well, Marvel's Thor Ragnarok has come and gone and the Valkyrie ended up being none of  the above. A whole new Valkyrie was created for the movie, who last year made her comic debut in the pages of Exile #2. While she appeared on various covers for #1, she doesn't appear in the interiors for issue #1.

Valkyrie appears on two covers for Exiles #2, the Regular and a ratio variant.

If you're wondering why the update, there's 2 reasons. The first being that a new Valkyrie comic series is going to launch from Marvel. At the time of this update it's assumed it will be this version of the character… personally, I'm not convinced. It seems like a blonde hair version of the character has been seen in Marvel's War of the Realms solistiations.

The second reason I'm updating this is because there's also rumor that Valkyrie will appear in Marvel's the Avengers: Endgame. If that ends up being true, then perhaps there's the possibility for the Exiles version getting her own series, which is very similar to the movie version.

My gut tells me the comic series will be a blonde haired version of Valkyrie we've seen before, with it starting up after the War of The Realms Event, it just seems logical.

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