This week is the finale of King in Black: Return of the Valkyries, but those heroines have already got another return planned with the next limited series, The Mighty Valkyries, which begins April 21.
Marvel's lead Valkyrie, Jane Foster will return, and be joined by the as-yet-unnamed Valkyrie introduced recently that happens to look a lot like Tessa Thompson's Valkyrie from Thor: Love and Thunder.
Longtime Valkyrie writers Jason Aaron and Torunn Grønbekk continue on with this third series about the Asgardian shield maidens, and in this new series, they're crossing over with Asgard's most wanted, Loki.
Before this new chapter in the Valkyries' lives begins, Newsarama spoke with Grønbekk about the stories up to this point, what we can look forward to in The Mighty Valkyries, as well as how she and Aaron work together.
Newsarama: Torunn, you've been co-writing with Jason Aaron for a while. How did this partnership come about? Walk us through your creative process with one another.
Torunn Grønbekk: Well, Al Ewing and Jason were working on [Jane Foster: Valkyrie] together, and I think Al had too much on his plate because he's writing everything and it's brilliant and it's so god damn good. So, they needed another co-writer.
I've met Jason a few times, and we've talked about different things. He checked out some of my work and he sent [Marvel editor] s a book I wrote and went 'What about Torunn?' Then luckily, he went 'Sure, we'll give it a go,' and they called me up. So, that was fantastic for me.
Then I asked Jason how he wanted to do this and he kind of just went "Just let me know what, how you wanted, when do you need me?" The way we started to break - I kind of wanted to get a feel of the character and figure out how I would approach a Jane story.
So, I spent quite a bit of time trying to get under her skin. Then I wrote an outline for what I thought would be like a good Jane story. Then I sent it over to Jason. We talked about the Marvel way of doing things like who should be the villain. I had a couple of ideas, but Jason knows everything about the Marvel universe. So, I can just call him up and be like, 'Hey, I need this kind of character with this kind of mindset. Who do we have?' And he's like, 'Oh, this person' - which is extremely practical for me.
After I would figure out the outline, he just went, 'So, do you want to write it? Do you want me to take a pass at it? Just let me know how you want to do it.' So right now, I write the scripts. I send them over to Jason. He'll have some comments, maybe on pacing, a couple of things like that. And he'll always add like one great kind of Jason thing.
Like, including Hildegarde running in going, "I'm the goddess of not giving a damn" - that's Jason (from Jane Foster: Valkyrie #10!). I'll yammer on about men, anger, and blah, blah, blah. And he'll add things like that, which is great because it's important. That's the kind of thing that people remember. It's the lovely fight scenes with Volstagg running in talking about his breakfast. That's what the people want.
Nrama: What went into creating this new Valkyrie? She looks a lot like Tessa Thompson's Valkyrie, did this play a part in creating her?
Grønbekk: We had a lot of freedom bringing in the new Valkyrie. We had a certain look we went for, obviously.
I wanted her to feel quite different from Jane, like coming from a different place so they can work off of each other. But we had a lot of freedom to explore her and figure out where she's coming from. She's got a complicated backstory that we'll get back to in The Mighty Valkyries.
There are certainly quite a few similarities between the movie Valkyrie and our Valkyrie. But we kind of looked at it as 'How would a person, a woman who's been a Valkyrie forever and ever, how would she handle the world? How would she see the job as being a Valkyrie after doing it for so long?' And then you have Jane on the other hand, who has just gotten the job.
So, you have the one Valkyrie who has a different kind of outlook at the entire universe while Jane is more grounded in a way. It's an interesting thing.
I love writing the new Valkyrie, who will get a name in Mighty Valkyries, by the way.
Nrama: That's good to hear. It's so hard talking about her without a name.
Grønbekk: Oh, we know. It's been interesting, but it is part of the backstory. It's part of her finding her way back to her life.
In Return of the Valkyries, she's been stuck in this headless, celestial afterlife thing going through her memories for centuries. It's her turn to figure out how to live life now and being a Valkyrie again, which is also sort of what Jane is doing, but their approaches are completely different. So, it's been fun.
I'm not sure if that answers your question, but I'm trying to avoid spoilers like a hero.
Nrama: Now that Jane is sharing her role as a Valkyrie, does this change the balancing act she has as a hero and doctor? Does it make it easier or harder?
Grønbekk: She's going back to the hospital. Like, the first thing that happens in Mighty Valkyries is that Jane is back trying to figure out how to live life.
I think that's one of the things that's really interesting for Jane as a character is just - she's died, she's done everything at this point. She's seen everything, but she still has to kind of figure out how to live. And I think that's relatable in a lot of ways for a lot of people.
So, yes, we're definitely going back to that part. Then with the new Valkyrie, we're starting her off in a different galaxy also trying to get back to life. Once again trying to avoid spoilers here.
I think the interesting thing about Jane, of course, is that she's got this kindness, but also this kind of curiosity. She wants to get out there. She wants to live with the horse and work at the hospital and get her life working, maybe even meet someone - maybe even get some normalcy, but she's got this hunger for adventure as well.
I find it fascinating to see how we can make Jane-specific stories. Like, no one would get into these kinds of situations except for Jane because of her compassion and interest in people.
So, that's how we're approaching her now, which is much the same as we did in Jane Foster: Valkyrie. Obviously, she's going to need to work together with the new Valkyrie, but that's never been a problem for Jane. She'll always take, I wouldn't necessarily say all the help she can get, but she's inclusive in a way that I really enjoy. There's very little ego involved, which is good.
At some point, we will bring the two stories together, which is one of my favorite parts. So, I can't wait for you all to see that, but I can't say anything. This is so frustrating - it's still very much a Jane Foster series, but we are flirting a little bit with Asgard and Norse mythology, but it's still an extremely Jane and human story, which I enjoy.
Coming out of 'King in Black,' we're trying not to be like 'The world is ending once again.' This story is, I wouldn't say quieter, but it's more heartfelt.
Nrama: Jane has been taking part in Donny Cates and Nic Klein's Thor, and Loki's name appears in the synopsis for The Mighty Valkyries #1. Can we expect any more Thor superstars to appear here, and what type of role will they play?
Grønbekk: We are flirting a little bit with Asgard. But Loki, Hela, and Karnilla - Karnilla has a plan for something. Those are the main Asgardians that we'll meet, but we are taking at least one trip to Asgard as well.
Mattia is brilliant and he does everything. He colors, he inks. He delivers these pages of beauty. So, for his schedule, the scripts have been ready for quite some time. We may add in a couple of references, but we haven't taken that into account when we wrote the series in the first place.
Nrama: Why do you think it was important that Valkyries tied into 'King In Black' before this volume? Did you know you would have another volume following 'King In Black'?
Grønbekk: Yes, we did know that, and we knew that we wanted to introduce the new Valkyrie in 'King in Black.' We had an interesting story and we wanted to be able to bring in more Valkyries.
Obviously, it's has a very different tone than we would do in Valkyrie because 'King in Black' is such a huge event.
We don't get to spend that much time with the different characters as we would in the regular series. I enjoy being able to spend a lot of time with the characters, but it's been really fun to write 'King in Black' as well.
Nrama: You've worked with plenty of artists with each passing Valkyrie story, but what's your collaboration been like with rising star - Mattia De Lulis?
Grønbekk: Well, I tend to add in a bunch of visual notes in the beginning of the script. But because it's Mattia, you can just give him one sentence, and he'll know what to do. So, I try not to over-explain everything, unless there's something really specific that I find really important – like, 'Here's a detail that you need to pay attention to.' Then we'll have a conversation if there are details that he wants to get right or he's wondering.
Like Karnilla, she's got a key chain, and he's like 'What do Viking key chains look like?' And we'll figure it out just kind of going back and forth with some references and everything. But with Mattia, I find that the less I describe the better it is. I just have to give him a feeling of what we're going for, then he'll deliver. It's really fantastic.
I do think extremely visually.
Nrama: We should mention that you are a professional painter, as well as writer.
Grønbekk: So, if the artist wants a potential reference, or for me to explain or give descriptions of the room or the people in the room, I will absolutely do that. But I found with CAFU, who was the first artist I worked with at Marvel, I had a couple of times where I kind of over-described a couple of things, and I realized later that I didn't have to. I could just say, 'there's a woman there.' And he'd be like, 'I got you. Here's the woman.'
Nrama: The solicits have marked this as a five-issue series, but this like King in Black: Return of the Valkyries seems like a continuation of the Jane Foster: Valkyrie title. Are there plans for more Valkyries following this?
Grønbekk: I sure hope we'll get more.
The Jane fans are the best fans in the world. They are expressive and they'll tell you how excited they are and they'll tell you how they want more. So, I kind of get a feeling that there's a lot of excitement for the book. But who knows? I hope so.
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