Bryan J.L. Glass didn’t expect his first Marvel Comics work to star Valkyrie.
“I was only interested in her back during the Steve Gerber Defenders days,” Glass said of the character in a phone interview with Newsarama. “That was really the era that I was reading Defenders, enjoying the character.”
But widespread recognition from your peers — namely, a Harvey Award sporting the lofty title “Best New Talent” — has a way of changing things. After Glass picked up that honor last year for his writing work on The Mice Templar, his creator-owned Image Comics series with Michael Avon Oeming, he received a call from Marvel editor Bill Rosemann.
“I had won the award, and got a call from Bill Rosemann,” Glass recounted, “Just saying, ‘I really dig your Mice Templar, and you seem like you would be a perfect fit for this Valkyrie one-shot that we have coming up.”
Though Thor: First Thunder, also penned by Glass, shipped two weeks ago, Valkyrie, in shops today, was actually written first. The offer from Rosemann to write First Thunder came the same day Glass turned in the Valkyrie script.
Both give Glass an opportunity to use his flair for fantasy honed on Mice Templar, the concept of First Thunder was already in place when Glass came on board. For Valkyrie, Glass had much more room for interpretation.
“[Bill] said: ‘tell us the definitive Valkyrie story,” Glass related, adding that the one-shot is part of Marvel’s year-long “Woman of Marvel” initiative. “Make us care about her, because she’s going to be one of the Secret Avengers.’ Which was very hush-hush at the time.”
This creative freedom led Glass to the timeline for the one-shot — between “Avengers: Disassembled” and Secret Invasion, filling in the gap between the destruction of Asgard as depicted in Oeming’s “Disassembled”-era run on Thor and Valkyrie reappearing as one of She-Hulk’s Lady Liberators in Hulk.
Essentially, the one-shot shows how Valkyrie went from dying in Ragnarok to being alive and well in current Marvel continuity — the Asgardians returned at the start of J. Michael Staczynski’s run on Thor, but Valkyrie’s resurrection wasn’t depicted. While researching the book, Glass found a recurring theme in the character’s history.
“Every time you turned around, it seemed like there’s someone else in Valkyrie’s body, or Valkyrie’s spirit is possessing someone else’s body,” Glass said. “I ended up calling it a ‘soap opera of the gods,’ which I ended up actually working into the script. “
The comic cuts through the convolution and presents an iconic version of Valkyrie, corresponding with her current depiction in Secret Avengers.
“I feel a lot of characters get sidetracked by things that were done to them in their continuity, and then they become identified by their continuity, as opposed to being identified as their character,” Glass said.
While adjusting to being back awakened on Earth, Valkyrie runs into The Wasp, Janet Van Dyne; making Glass the first writer to get a chance at the currently deceased character in a while.
“That was a surprise bonus,” Glass said. “It kind of dawned on me. The Wasp was not in the first draft of the story, though when I realized where it was set, I went, ‘Whoa. In that moment, Janet Van Dyne is still alive — how can I shoehorn in?’ Then I went, ‘Ah, no. I don’t want to put the character in with a shoehorn.’ That would be an injustice to the Marvel Universe as a whole.”
Glass settled on using Wasp when he realized a thematic tie between her and Valkyrie. As Wasp tells Valkyrie in the comic, “you’ve changed bodies as often as I’ve changed costumes.”
“She’s an example of a character that a circumstance becomes the character’s identity,” Glass said of Wasp’s tumultuous relationship with Hank Pym, “regardless of what the characterization is, regardless of all their other history, their powers.”
For Valkyrie, Glass is paired with artist Phil Winslade, who, in a neat bit of cosmic coincidence, worked with Gerber on a Howard the Duck miniseries a few years back.
“Phil is magic,” Glass said. “The very first thing I received were pencil layouts of the entire issue. You could tell they were done on notebook paper, yet they were so close to what he ended up rendering.”
The Mice Templar at Image led to Valkyrie at Marvel, and Glass still wasn’t completely far from home. The books share a colorist, Veronica Gandini.
“I had nothing to do with it,” Glass said. “She got assigned the script, and my name wasn’t even on it when she started doing her coloring. She contacted me, saying, ‘Are you working for Marvel now? Because this script I’m working on now has the way you write all over it.’”