Valkyrie and feminism

Feminist blogger Amanda Marcotte addresses the issue of feminists and sexuality by looking at the claim made about the noted anti-feminist Katie Roiphe and an upcoming appearance by her: "The sexy (sorry, feminists), smart, sassy Katie Roiphe live on stage @nypl on Wednesday night.” Marcotte irritably asks: "Why do stereotypes of feminists as anti-fun, unsexy, and humorless persist?"  and that "Roiphe’s feminist critics don’t have an opinion on her sexiness one way or another." Personally, I read a Defenders comic in 1972 and feminists were presented to me as being represented by the character Valkyrie.

I didn't see her as particularly sexy, but considering that I was only 12 when I read this particular comic, there probably wasn't anything unusual about that.

Her attitude here is not at all anti-male, men clearly are not her enemies, but she can see and size up the situation in a moment and it's clear to her that the males are unable to free themselves, so it's up to her. Naturally, she can't resist getting in a dig at the men who need her particular talents and capabilities at that time. Granted, there's long been the old dating wisdom: "a scary movie is the perfect excuse to cuddle a little closer to your partner. Who else is going to protect you from the movie monsters?" The particular piece I quoted from shows a picture of a strong female comforting a scared male, but the image has long been that, in response to a scary movie, the frightened female will cuddle closer to the protective male. Clearly, Val doesn't need much protection from scary things that go bump in the night.

he's down!
I do really like Valkyrie's reaction to the group's success here.

Val also shows that she's fully capable of being sweet and emotional, though she's clearly acting as the protector as opposed to being the one who needs protecting.

In Victorian times, they called this "being forward." I think I pretty much dropped the Defenders until I was in college. Valkyrie was still a member when I picked it up again, but she tended to be just one of the group with only a little bit of narrative attention paid to her specifically.

Enchantress 2
From Fear Itself in 2011. Valkyrie demonstrates her strong sense of duty, responsiblity and honor as contrasted with the Enchantress's vanity and irresponsiblity. Their relationship is detailed in Marvel's Wikia. Valkyrie's essence and spirit are moved from human body to human body with the human usually having just died or gone mad, meaning Valkyrie doesn't have to worry about the human taking over. The acquired body takes on her strengths and appearance.

In the early 80s, Marvel decided that Valkyrie was the same character as Brunnhilde, the valkyrie in the Ring of the Nibelung. Siegmund takes on the appearance of Thor (This storyline was over the Thor issues 293-300) and Valkyrie/Brunnhilde appears as her usual self. And yes, her superhero buddies continued to call her "Val" for her nickname as there is no short name for Brunnhilde (At least not as far as Americans generally know).

ring of fre
Valkyrie is placed within a ring of fire by Odin/Wotan and Seigfried/Thor climbs to her rescue.

wakes up
Seigfried wakes her up with a kiss. Does she smile lovingly and melt into his arms? Ha, ha, ha! This is a warrior woman we're talking about! She of course wakes up fighting. The latest issue of Ms. has this as a description of one of their stories: "Ms. has chronicled how women have gone from second-class citizens to fierce feminist warriors—and we continue to sound the alarms, rally the troops and celebrate progress." So I kinda suspect that Valkyrie's reaction is right in line with what would be expected of a feminist woman these days.

Valkyrie falls prey to an ambush.

Her funeral demonstrated the respect and good will that her superhero buddies had for her.

confronts Odin
Later, after she's recovered (Via a complicated explanation, but yeah, superheroes recover from death all the time), she also recovers her memory of being Brunnhilde, so she's now one and the same character.

Dr Seuss
After a cheerful issue where she and other Defenders deal with Dr. Seuss-style characters, Valkyrie pretty much disappeared from Marvel comics for a little under 30 years, at least as far as I was aware.

She came back in 2010 with a self-titled one-shot. She doesn't call herself a feminist, but deals with women's issues. Here she's clobbering the fellow who attempted to rape the woman whose body she now possesses.

In the 2011 Fear Itself, Valkyrie again shows that she's on very good terms with other superheroes. In this storyline, she has to collect a set of hammers and sometimes the heroes cooperate with her and well...sometimes they don't. She collects them all anyway. She goes to Valhalla for a bit and meets her old lover Seigfried, decides that she's grown more than he has, and so comes back and finishes the job on the villain of the story.

So, is Valkyrie sexy? I certainly think so, but I also recognize that she's not a toy that a man can discard as soon as he's tired of her. Not much there in terms of silliness or childishness, which are qualties that some guys like. She's certainly not a woman to be dishonest to or to play head games with. I can certainly understand why some guys wouldn't be attracted to her. I can also see why women would want to adopt her as their role model and why other fellows would agree with me that Val's pretty hot.