Tuesday, August 24, 2010
TOP 50 FEMALE/MALE FIGHTS IN COMICS #5
Thundra looked like a poster child for Amazonian superheroes but in terms of history the Valkyrie takes the prize for being Marvel Comics' first heavy-hitting heroine. Even in the 1940s Marvel's ancestor "Timely-Atlas" doesn't seem to have any heroines on the level of Wonder Woman, and though many post-feminist complaints about the inefficacy of 1960s heroines like Wasp or Invisible Girl were not entirely fair, it must be said that few of Marvel's costumed femmes were especially formidable. Villainesses like Umar, the Enchantress and the Norn Queen were the only femmes who ascended to that rough power-level.
I won't deal with Valkyrie's complicated history here, though I'll note that it's only in her second appearance, INCREDIBLE HULK #126 (April 1970), that Valkyrie is definitely shown to be have Wonder Woman levels of strength. Writer Roy Thomas doesn't quite get adventurous enough to have her equal the titular monster-hero in power, but her ability to fight, rather than being forced to use indirect energy-powers, is central to her character.
Despite the Valkyrie's puissance, I've seen very few good extended battles with the character going toe-to-toe with either male or female antagonists of comparable strength. A battle with Thor in some AVENGERS ANNUAL was handled pretty tiresomely, and a lot of times she ends up being pitted against characters not in her strength-class, which reflects poorly on her reputation as a badass. Nevertheless, her running battle with the super-agile Lunatik in DEFENDERS #56 is a fun fight as essayed by writer Dave Kraft and artist Carmine Infantino. The tongue-in-cheek combat comes across with a bit of a Batman-vs.-Joker vibe, with the super-serious Val continually trying to chase down the elusive nutjob. The moment (not shown) where Valkyrie leaves off her Asgardian magniloquence and just yells "SHUT UP!" at Lunatik while punching him out makes for a cool climax (even though the villain manages to get away for another day).