Webcomic Spotlight: Blue Valkyrie
Writer: Emily Riesbeck
Artist: David Mitchell
A review by Amelia Wellman
Blue Valkyrie tells the story of Chloe as she lives her life as a trans woman and superhero. She lives in Cream City with her partner Alice and is best friends with another superhuman. She has absolutely no idea what she’s doing, but she’s working it out along the way. The antagonist of the piece is a business man with a chip on his shoulder. He’s trying to get out of his father’s shadow, but the new found superhumans are getting in his way. Issue five just started and the story seems to be coming quickly towards Chloe and the business man’s first meeting as foes.
Along with the superhero angle, there are also more realistic situations and antagonists that affect Chloe’s life. Five issues in and Blue Valkyrie has shown mild sexual assault, police brutality, and bullying. Each subject has been handled maturely and each specific event has even had a warning on the first page of the issue, creating a safe space for readers and showing that nothing in this comic is ever going to be done for shock value. That’s something I very much appreciate in a world where HBO writers have had beloved characters raped for no reason at all besides being edgy.
That’s so refreshing, especially since trans, queer, and POC characters are at the forefront of Blue Valkyrie. Stories focused on non-straight and/or non-white characters usually take a very tragic route, but by scaling it back and presenting situations with respect, Blue Valkyrie is offering a comic that explores tragic events without dwelling too much on the tragedy.
And by making the title character a trans woman, the layers of this superpower discovery story go deeper than such stories usually go. I don’t want to make any assumptions but Blue Valkyrie feels like a very personal story that Riesbeck is telling. It’s incredibly insightful, often touching, and shows that people who are trans are more than just this one thing in their lives, just like superheroes are more than that one thing in their lives. Just like everyone, Chloe is more than the sum of her parts and that’s been shown quite masterfully so far.
One specific aspect of the story I have to point out (because I loved it so much) is Chloe’s name. The story opens with her inner monologuing about how people find out she’s trans and then ask the story behind her name. When she says that she just thought it was a pretty name, people are often disappointed because they expected a grand revelation. When she becomes a superhero and names herself the Blue Valkyrie, people want to know the meaning behind it, but it’s the same reason. She just thought it was a good name. And by having people constantly mess up her superhero name, it draws a brilliant parallel to what trans people go through trying to get people to use the correct name or pronouns. It’s such a beautiful touch.
The art of Blue Valkyrie is somewhat rough. Often asymmetrical and with strange perspective issues that come from inexperience. But all that isn’t to say that it doesn’t have its charms. The character design of Isabella as a plant controlling superhuman is so creative and the forest grown by her and seen every so often in the newest panels is extremely detailed. The series is also still going, updating once a week. Mitchell’s art will only keep getting better as he perfects the craft.
Check it out! There are a lot of insightful ideas in Blue Valkyrie with some truly touching panels. Characters act like real people which, in turn, makes the narratives really hit home. The art is still rough around the edges, but it’s an ongoing improvement as the comic continues. And much like Chloe herself, the Blue Valkyrie is more than the sum of its parts and should be looked at as a whole package!