This week saw the release of ‘The Fearless Defenders #6‘, which featured a controversial death. If you haven’t read the issue or our review, you may want to turn back now as there are some major spoilers involved.
The one original character from the fan-favorite series, Dr. Annabelle Riggs appeared to die at the blade of the object of her affection, Brunhilda the Valkyrie, who is possessed by her former blood-thirsty, Doom Maiden persona. Not only was Annabelle an endearingly bumbling, nerdy character, she was a normal human that was counted in the company of super heroes and an open lesbian. Many fans are crying foul over the death of one of the only LGBT characters in comics, but the creators are coming to their own defense.
Writer Cullen Bunn, on his webpage, posted a lengthy and positive-leaning post, which included the following:
Way back when I was writing FEAR ITSELF: THE FEARLESS, I had this notion of Valkyrie pulling together a new host of Shieldmaidens, not from the women of Asgard, but from the women of Midgard. One of the things that intrigued me most about this idea was that some of these women might not be mutant/mystic/cyborg powerhouses at all. Instead, they’d be ordinary people who were called on to do extraordinary things. This was the first inkling of the character who would become Annabelle Riggs.
I knew, as I started to write her earliest appearance in the series, that this was a character readers would quickly learn to love. She was our everywoman. In a world of goddesses, she was the character who would keep us grounded. She was a little awkward and very strong-willed. She didn’t take no for an answer and she held her own alongside the likes of Hippolyta and Valkyrie. She developed a crush on another member of the team—feelings that might not have been returned. She was an underdog who said that anyone—no matter how ordinary—could be a hero. Oh, yeah. And she “liked girls.”
Do you want to know the secret of my precognitive abilities? How did I know readers would love Annabelle?
Because I loved her, too.
I’ve made no secret about it. Annabelle is my favorite character in the series. “Is,” not “was.” I’m speaking for Will and Ellie here, but I think they like her best, too. Keep in mind, I LOVE all the characters in the series—Valkyrie, Misty, Dani, Hippolyta, all of them—but Annabelle was my favorite by far. I’d almost go so far as to say this is her series even more than it is Valkyrie’s.”
Editor Ellie Pyle spoke to Newsarama about this issue as well as what’s coming next, hopefully hinting at hope for dear Annabelle.
The reaction has been very much what I was expecting. And I absolutely understand it! I’ve made no secret about the fact that Annabelle is my favorite character and that scene is heartbreaking and devastating, as it should be! I would be crying and throwing things and full of outrage too if I didn’t know what happens next. But… something happens next! And you don’t even have to wait a full month to find out what it is! Go preorder issue #7 right now!”
Considering that Valkyrie has the job of escorting souls to… and from the afterlife, the door may not be completely closed for Annabelle Riggs!
One of the biggest complaints fans have had is that Annabelle is one of the few LGBT characters in comics. Her death has a heavier impact than the death of, say a Caucasian, heterosexual, male character. Bunn states, “The fact that she was a lesbian didn’t even enter the equation for me, except that it was part of what made her who she was—just one part of many. What mattered to me here was that Annabelle cared deeply for her friend and she was—gay, straight, black, white—a hero.”
“Annabelle’s sexuality was not in any way the reason for her death. I feel very strongly that her sacrifice was very true to everything we love about her. As to whether the fact that she is a lesbian should have kept us from telling a story in which she died… in this particular case, not having this specific character sacrifice herself would have made for a story in which we were less emotionally invested.
That said, I do understand the importance of not decreasing the lesbian population of the Marvel Universe, and if that had been the actual outcome of what we have planned, I might have looked at it differently. But Cullen found a way to write this scene in a manner that I felt was respectful to the character and was a product of her own choices and arc (not in blind service to another character’s) and it will be a catalyst to more great stories that will also involve lesbian characters. (That word was plural right? Interesting…)”
Hmmmm… that’s a promising hint. Who could it refer to? Former Defender Moondragon? Dani Moonstar’s long-running teammate Karma? Either would be welcome, if you ask me! Or both?! Yes please!
Honestly the fact that Valkyrie moves between the realms of the living and the dead definitely dulled the impact of Annabelle’s supposed death. I didn’t buy it for a second, but I get fans negative reactions. There aren’t tons of LGBT characters in comics, but plucky Annabelle is too damn likeable for her creators to dispatch her so callously! That girl will come back, possibly even super heroic!
Feel better? How would you like Annabelle to return? What other female heroes would you like to see in ‘The Fearless Defenders?’ Leave a comment below!