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Spawn Series 22: The Viking Age
by yo go re

Valk here follows a long line of disappointing Angel figures from McFarlane - Domina, Lotus, Tiffany II... all had great promise and all were great let-downs. Would McFarlane finally live up to their promise of "Ultra" action figures, or would their Valkerie be another giant cop-out?

This heavenly creature is a winged goddess of combat and flight. She witnessed the blood pact between Jorvak Skullsplitter and the evil god Loki, though it was not her way to interfere in the earthly doings of man. Still she watched and, when Erik Bloodaxe was struck down by Skullsplitter, Valkerie followed him down to the Realm of the Dead. There, while Bloodaxe froze and devolved and prayed for guidance, she appeared to him and spoke of an escape route... a route never successfully navigated in all of history. Did Valkerie send Bloodaxe down the path to a second horrifying death? Or will he survive the journey between worlds?

Valkerie is one of the few elements of Norse history and mythology that didn't get twisted and bastardized in McToys' hands. The Valkyries (or, originally, Valkyrja - "chosers of the slain") were beautiful young warrior women who rode winged steeds. They were charged with collecting the souls of warriors fallen in battle, to carry them to Valhalla and prepare them for the battle of Ragnarok. The Northern Lights were said to be reflections off the Valkyries' armor as they ride forth on their missions.

So Valkerie (why they ditched the "y" is beyond me) does indeed fall in line with her real counterpart, though it appears that she flies on her own rather than on a winged horse. The wings on her temples are natural, as evidenced by the bluey-gray feathers poking out of her hair all the way down. Those "freckles" on her cheeks are even feather buds.

McFarlane Toys is known for sculpting beautiful women, and Valk is arguably the sexiest they've ever done. She's the work of a guy named Jean St.Jean, and now that we know his name, he'll probably be striking out on his own any day now. The body is wonderful, and she's got an alluring look on her face; perfect for calming and claiming deceased warriors.

She's dressed in tattered teal cloth with a tiny cross pattern sculpted in. The golden cross on her chest and the smaller one clasping her cape give her an almost Celtic look, oddly enough. The original design (back when she was more obviously a rip-off of Neil Gaiman's Angela) called for her breasts to be covered only by the cross, and that even made it as far as the early sculpting stages, but the choice to go with a torn shirt was a good one. It's just like with classical Greek statues or college girls: the ones that are covering something are sexier than the ones that show it all. So take it off, ladies! Take it off - but then drape something over it again.

The feather-trimmed cape flows from blue to gold to creamy white, looking every bit like a sunset or the Aurora Borealis. Appropriate, eh? And it's beautifully done by the factory, too. McToys' last big success - Series 19, the Samurai Wars - was a dreary brown series, but this is just lovely! Her armor is bronze, and she's got that trademark giant boot that Toddy Mac loves so much. Her skin is probably pinker than any Norseman's skin has ever been, but hey, she's an idealized heavenly figure; why shouldn't she be flush with life? This warrior comes with a giant (almost 10" long) spear that can be broken down into four sections for more options in battle with Skullsplitter and his minions.

As beautiful as Valk looks, the figure's real beauty is in her articulation; finally, McToys has proved they can wed aesthetics with mechanics. Series 22 is highly articulated, and Valk moves just as much as the guys do. Standing 6½" tall, Valk is articulated at the neck, shoulders, elbows, wrist, chests, waist, hips, thighs, and knees. That's 15 points of articulation, and about a dozen more than we can usually get. Kudos to you, Mr. McFarlane, and a tip of the hat to your design team.

For those that remember back when Spawn toys were just getting started (or clicked through and read the Angela review up above), I'll say that there isn't going to be a "Party" Valkerie. As you can see when Valk pulls her skirt down to give you a peek, she's got a matching thong underneath. So no doing anything dirty with all that articulation!

If this Nordic line has sparked an interest in you (or if, like Poe, you just hate the backstory), then you should definitely check out Ring of the Nibelung, P. Craig Russell's illustrated adaptation of Wagner's opus. It's a wonderful piece of mythology (and shows how heavily Norse mythology influenced J.R.R. Tolkien).

-- 09/08/02

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