Appearing in 1st story
- Hildegarde (Main story and flashback) (Taken over by a symbiote)
- Mirage (Dani Moonstar)
- Valkyrie (Dr. Jane Foster)
- Unnamed Valkyrie
- Valkyrie (Brunnhilde) (Deceased)
- Mattis (Only in flashback) (First appearance)
- Mr. Horse
- Ivanir (Deceased) (First appearance)
- Symbiote Hive
- Court of the Fort of Gaardar
- Sentry (Bob Reynolds) (Ghost)
- Heimdall (Mentioned) (Only in flashback)
- Odin (Mentioned)
- Thor (Odinson) (Mentioned)
Races and Species:
- Asgardians (Main story and flashback)
- Dragons (Only in flashback)
- Rock Trolls
- Valkyrior Steeds
- Realm Between
- Ten Realms
Synopsis for 1st story
In the Realm Between, the Sentry's ghost struggles against the Headless Celestial, which asks who he is. Sensing it's trying to assimilate him and will do so if he shows even the slightest vulnerability, the Sentry resolves to resist it with everything he has left.
On Midgard, Hildegarde recaps that when she was young her mentor Mattis left her in a cave with a cantankerous dragon in order to teach her a lesson in humility, Hildegarde having already proven more than a match for even himself in combat. Noting that she missed the finer points of the lesson, Hildegarde relates to Mirage and Jane Foster that when fighting a dragon one has to watch out for its teeth, tail, and talons. Recalling that the dragon she fought had a weak spot under its jaw, Hildegarde decides to test if the same holds true for the symbiote-dragon they're fighting. Lopping off the monster's toes, she distracts it long enough for Jane to decapitate it using Undrjarn. As the symbiote-dragon's body destabilizes behind them, Dani notes that there are millions more and they need a new plan, Hildegarde agreeing and asking Jane if she has one. Jane replies that Brunnhilde came up with one, to Hilde's astonishment.
In Vanaheim, the Unnamed Valkyrie massacres the monsters King Vanlandi brought to kill her and reclaims Jarnbjorn. Taking Vanlandi captive, she helps herself to the Fort of Gaardar's massive pantry; brushing aside Mr. Horse admonishing her that they need to rejoin the fight as soon as possible. Recalling what it was like being trapped inside the undead Celestial's twisted afterlife, she explains it would scour her memories to torture her but that she got used to it and was even comforted by the endless repetition. Noting that at first she left messages to herself promising to fight and/or escape, she ultimately never did so and is afraid that if she returns she'll prove herself a coward by willingly embracing the nightmare again.
In Midgard, Hildegarde incredulously asks if Jane is serious when she says that two of them need to fight the Headless Celestial in the Realm Between while the third picks a fight with Knull. Jane says she is, and that severing the All-Black symbiote's connection to the Headless Celestial is paramount. Hildegarde volunteers herself for the task of fighting Knull, noting that she prefers the living world to the afterlife. Dani interjects asking how she can help when she doesn't have Valkyrie powers anymore, but Jane explains that Brightwind will take her to the Realm Between, where time has no meaning, and that she will be all that she ever was and ever will be. Dani laments not being able to make Knull understand the value of life, noting that if they could only convince him than countless lives on both sides would be spared. As Dani bemoans that power often brings arrogance and ignorance, Jane agrees that their battle is wasteful. Noting an approaching symbiote-dragon, Hildegarde asks if they can draw it off for her. Jane and Dani distract the monster long enough for Hildegarde to leap onto its back and then port to the Realm Between, the symbiote-dragon letting out a shriek of anger at its prey escaping. Hidden on the symbiote-dragon's back, Hildegarde chuckles at the thought of keeping it as her Valkyrie mount.
In Valhalla, Brunnhilde watches her fellow Valkyrie-turned-Einherjar training and laments that she cannot enjoy the afterlife as they do. Distracted by her concerns for the world of the living and wanting to help, she approaches Ivanir - an elderly goddess weaving a mystical tapestry depicting alternate timelines and continuities that will never come to pass. As Ivanir greets her, Brunnhilde says she's come to seek advice and that Jane Foster has gone to fight the Headless Celestial. Pausing, Ivanir replies that Jane Foster will die but is taken aback when Brunnhilde retorts that she told Jane about the ritual needed to sever the Headless Celestial's connection to All-Black. Ivanir angrily scolds her for meddling in the affairs of the living and messing with ancient forces beyond their comprehension, but Brunnhilde retorts that she felt she had no other choice and that a fight with the dead should be fought by the dead.
In the Realm Between, Jane and Dani - who is now clad in ancient Asgardian armor - pull out a needle-shaped golden sword capable of piecing the fabric of reality. The two Valkyries initiate the ritual by weaving a lattice that cuts through the space-time continuum. As Jane throws the needle down to Midgard, she hopes Hildegarde will be able to intercept it; Dani agreeing and stating that Knull will sense what is happening and try to prevent it.
On Midgard, Hildegarde dismounts from the symbiote-dragon and lands amidst fleeing civilians. As she confronts the symbiote-controlled Storm, Hildegarde thinks to herself that if she can do her part to stop Knull then she can die knowing her life had meaning, and that the war on Midgard has no shortage of warrior's deaths. As Storm blasts a civilian with lightning, Hildegarde tackles him aside and lunges with her sword drawn, thinking to herself that she can't die just yet.
In Vanahiem, the Unnamed Valkyrie drunkenly slumps against Mr. Horse and happily raises a goblet of wine. As Mr. Horse admonishes her for procrastinating, the Unnamed Valkyrie tells him to let her enjoy being alive for the first time in millennia. Sobering, she tells him that the souls trapped in the Headless Celestial would whisper secrets to her, one of which was that in her long absence Thor Odinson took up Jarnbjorn and augmented it with his divine blood, making it capable of cleaving through even the nigh-impenetrable armor of the Celestials. Examining her reflection in the axe's blade, the Unnamed Valkyrie says that she thought reclaiming it would restore her resolve; Mr. Horse replying that only small men look for courage in big weapons. As the Unnamed Valkyrie replies that she'll just drink her fears away, Mr. Horse interrupts stating that he was born in the Fort of Gaardar. The Unnamed Valkyrie sarcastically retorts that Mr. Horse being of proud Vanir stock far superior to the posh ponies of Asgard might have come up a few times, but Mr. Horse retorts that Vanaheim is a place of divination and that the Unnamed Valkyrie may very well find a portent of the future at the bottom of her goblet of ale. The Unnamed Valkyrie protests that the only thing that's there is darkness, Mr. Horse sombrely agreeing that that's what awaits them.
On Midgard, Storm overpowers Hildegarde and slams her into a symbiote-covered building, Hildegarde lamenting having picked her fights poorly. Breaking free of Storm's grasp and knocking her to the ground, Hildegarde initially despairs that she has no way of winning until the divine needle plunges from the sky and she grabs ahold of it. Recalling Mattis' telling her that when the time came for her to die she'd accept her death with joy knowing she did all that she could, Hildegarde notes that at the time she'd retorted she'd fight to her last breath in a berserker rage but that he'd been right. As Storm blasts her with a torrent of lightning, Hildegarde hurls the needle at Knull - the divine weapon looping its golden thread around the tether of darkness connecting his Necrosword to the Headless Celestial. As the ocean of living abyss engulfs her, Hildegarde thinks to herself that Mattis had been right, and that in the end all she can feel is love.
THE NEW VALKYRIE FINDS HER WEAPON — WILL IT BE ENOUGH?
Plus, a spotlight on Dani Moonstar as the X-Man fights to save both human and mutantkind! Jane Foster is going to need all the friends and power she can muster, but Knull and his symbiote army are slaughtering at a rate that even a hundred Valkyries couldn't match…and now Knull has some of the world's greatest heroes on his side. Can four warriors hope to stem the tide?
- 6 image(s) from King in Black: Return of the Valkyries Vol 1 3
- 1 reprint(s) of King in Black: Return of the Valkyries Vol 1 3