Although she destroyed Asgard in the MCU, Asgardian goddess of death Hela gave X-Men/Valkyrie Dani Moonstar a serious power upgrade.
Warning! Spoilers to Chris Claremont: Anniversary Special #1 below!
Although she destroyed Asgard in the MCU, the Asgardian Goddess of Death Hela isn’t afraid of making deals with mortals who catch her attention. One such mortal was X-Men‘s Dani Moonstar who transitioned from being a member of the New Mutants to the recently returned Asgardian Valkyries, a status that has been maintained due to deals made with the gods. Although she’s struggled to juggle her loyalties to her past and present, Dani can be counted on to be seen riding her faithful winged horse Brightwind in battle. In Chris Claremont Anniversary Special #1, her legendary co-creator has Hela rigorously test Dani in order to judge her worthy of being the next Champion of Life.
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Created by Claremont and artist Bob McLeod, Dani was a Northern Cheyenne mutant with the ability to telepathically create three-dimensional illusions of people’s fears or desires. When she rescued a winged horse while stranded in the Asgardian realm, she became a Valkyrie which also gave her mystical armor, a powerful sword upgrade, and the ability to see and perceive death. She first crossed paths with Hela when the death goddess attempted to kill Odin and take over Asgard, something Dani and the New Mutants helped to prevent although it cost her Brightwind. Dani maintained her duality between the two worlds until the fall of Asgard and M-Day left her an ordinary human being. Eventually, Hela agreed to restore Dani’s powers as Valkyrie in exchange for a favor, which Hela eventually called. Later, Dani’s mutant abilities were also restored. Although Dani fights alongside the X-Men and for Asgard, the resurrected Brightwind acts as a reminder of her pact with Hela.
In the issue written by Claremont with art by Bill Sienkiewicz, Sean Chen, Diego Olortegui, and Brett Booth, Thor’s strongest villain, Hela, appears before Dani, declaring it is time for her to claim her destiny as one of Hela’s Choosers of the Slain. Refusing to let Hela take Brightwind, Danielle allows Hela to send her on an adventure through time that highlights the length and diversity of Claremont’s career. Finding the presence of her old enemy the Shadow King, Dani fights him despite his possession of some of Marvel’s greatest heroes. Becoming more of a Valkyrie following every victory, she gains an extra assist from Storm, someone very familiar with the Shadow King, helping Dani find the courage to defeat their mutual enemy. Returning to Hela, she denounces being one of her servants. Hela responds that she can be something else entirely, a champion that will live past her mortal life to oppose ultimate evils like Shadow King. Dani Moonstar accepts this offer and on top of Brightwind, she becomes Marvel’s Champion of Life.
When it came time for Hela to make her MCU debut in Thor: Ragnarok portrayed by Cate Blanchett, the forgotten daughter of Odin not only slaughtered a majority of Asgardians but the movie chose to make her a symbol of ultimate power and destruction, a walking prophecy signaling the end of old Asgard. While her comic book counterpart has tried repeatedly to take over Asgard, the movie did not highlight her penchant for making deals with mortals, as any symbol of evil is prone to do. Although Dani Moonstar owes her current status as a Valkyrie to Hela, it would appear that the Goddess of Death actually did something good by upgrading Dani, even if the promotion happens to serve her own interests against Shadow King.
Few writers have had an impact on Marvel Comics overall like the X-Men’s savior Chris Claremont and with this simple story, he takes another of his characters and elevates her greatness to new heights. As long as the universe lives, there will be forces of good like Dani Moonstar fighting those that represent evil while others like Hela observe and wait for opportunities to arise and exploit.
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