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Preview: Beta Ray Bill #5 (of 5)

Beta Ray Bill #5 (of 5)

(W) Daniel Warren Johnson (A/CA) Daniel Warren Johnson
Rated T+
In Shops: Jul 28, 2021
SRP: $3.99

BILL VS. SURTUR IN THE EPIC FINALE!
Beta Ray Bill and his allies must fight the ultimate battle against Surtur, the fire god responsible for the destruction of Bill’s home planet! It’s going to take an eminent amount of power to defeat this foe! But with his goals in sight, is Bill ready to pay the cost required to return to his former self?

Beta Ray Bill #5 (of 5)

Preview: Beta Ray Bill #4 (of 5)

Beta Ray Bill #4 (of 5)

(W) Daniel Warren Johnson (A/CA) Daniel Warren Johnson
32 PGS./Rated T+
In Shops: Jun 30, 2021
SRP: $3.99

The penultimate chapter of Daniel Warren Johnson’s righteous Horse-Thor epic!
When Beta Ray Bill’s quest brings him and his friends – Skurge the Executioner and Pip the Troll – to the fiery realm of Muspelheim, they are quickly attacked by horrible monsters and dark beings! To save his friends, Bill must journey through a maze of his own memories!

Beta Ray Bill #4 (of 5)

Preview: Beta Ray Bill #3 (of 5)

Beta Ray Bill #3 (of 5)

(W) Daniel Warren Johnson (A/CA) Daniel Warren Johnson
Rated T+
In Shops: May 26, 2021
SRP: $3.99

BILL MARCHES INTO THE HEART OF DARKNESS!
Beta Ray Bill takes a bloody path to find his glory – and the perfect weapon to forge it with! And he’s even got a few friends to brave the battle alongside him. But the journey is one even Odin would call treacherous…and not all of Bill’s friends will survive. At least not in the form you know. Daniel Warren Johnson and colorist Mike Spicer will break Bill’s heart – and yours!

Beta Ray Bill #3 (of 5)

Review: Beta Ray Bill #2

Beta Ray Bill #2

Beta Ray Bill continues to be such a good time going into its second issue as its titular hero looks for Odin to gift him with a new weapon so that he can change back into his humanoid form and be able to romance his love, Sif. Writer/artist Daniel Warren Johnson, colorist Mike Spicer, and letterer Joe Sabino bring both a high level of energy and vulnerability to Beta Ray Bill #2 with their attention to detail, smooth storytelling, and cool sound effects. Johnson uses this second issue to introduce Beta Ray Bill’s supporting cast and their motivations as well as give him some kind of long term goal to achieve by the end of the miniseries.

With down to Earth dialogue and striking images, any back story or exposition fits seamlessly into the story and lets us get to know the characters more. For example, in a similar way to watching Hook over and over again in the first issue, Bill playing ping pong against himself shows his loneliness, and how he’s gotten good at self-soothing or entertaining himself. This feeling segues nicely into Daniel Warren Johnson’s cutaway, double page spread of his sentient ship Skuttlebutt that seems to be the only one to have his back. This spread also establishes a key location in the series that is a home, source of transportation, weapon of war, and even friend.

As befitting an epic quest narrative, Johnson gives Bill companions to help him out and fend off the loneliness. A bored with Valhalla, Skurge the Executioner appears fairly early on and brings a sense of humor and empathy towards Bill. After making jokes about Valhalla not having guns, he gives Bill a big ol’ hug and takes on the role of wingman going foward. Also, Skurge knows where Odin likes to hang out. Bill’s other companion is Pip the Troll, who looks up to him as a hero and hopes to learn to be okay with his own outward appearance as the journey progresses. Even though they’re species that don’t exist in the real world, there’s a real humanity behind Skurge and Pip’s actions, and their motives of boredom and self-growth are relatable.

Whether reuniting old friends, setting up an epic quest, or depicting a bar room brawl, Johnson is a master of body language in his artwork for Beta Ray Bill #2. I’ve mentioned his double page spread, but he also uses lots of small panels to let a scene breathe and sink in instead of going to the next battle, planet, or obstacle. Early on, Johnson shows that Skurge really cares about Bill and isn’t a threat by including beat panels of him putting down his beer glass (He already feels at home.) or affectionately patting Bill on the shoulder to show their bromantic bond. The principles of this almost dance of conversation apply to the issue’s one fight scene that show wrestling moves like Bill spinning his opponent by his arm across the page before being taken by surprise by another brawler because he and Skurge are definitely outnumbered. Speed lines, sound effects, big fists, and a punchy color palette from Mike Spicer show that Skurge and Bill needed to get some steam off until Odin put things to a stop. He may be in total retirement mode, but his presence still commands a room.

And it’s in Beta Ray Bill #2’s conversation between Odin and Bill about finding a new weapon that Daniel Warren Johnson’s no bullshit approach to dialogue really shines. The artist formerly known as All-Father is about to wax poetic about inner beauty when Bill immediately undercuts him and says a fancy speech won’t make him human again. Like a lot of people, especially those living in a neo-liberal, pandemic-ridden police state, action is preferred over conversation, and Johnson brings that out in the character of Bill, who gets Odin to provide a concrete solution to his hammer/mortality problem. Achieving these things will be difficult as the last third of the comic shows, but it also provides a real focus and goal for Bill. He’s not just traveling the Nine Realms willy-nilly although with Daniel Warren Johnson’s chops, I would be fine with that.

Beta Ray Bill #2 is a rare opportunity to see an auteur cartoonist put their mark on an in-continuity, mainstream comic, and Johnson makes me both emotionally connect with Bill’s personal journey while also rocking my socks off with his approach to humor, page design, and fight choreography. Bring on the next three issues as well as the latest addition to Bill’s space adventure party.

Story/Art: Daniel Warren Johnson
Colors: Mike Spicer Letters: Joe Sabino
Story: 8.8 Art: 9.2 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus ComicsTFAW

Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

Robin #1

Wednesdays (and now Tuesdays) are new comic book day! Each week hundreds of comics are released, and that can be pretty daunting to go over and choose what to buy. That’s where we come in

Each week our contributors choose what they can’t wait to read this week or just sounds interesting. In other words, this is what we’re looking forward to and think you should be taking a look at!

Find out what folks think below, and what comics you should be looking out for this week.

20 Fists #1 (Source Point Press) – Described as a story about “fist fights and bad romance” that’s all we need to know to get us to read this first issue.

Beatnik Buenos Aires (Fantagraphics) – Set in 1963, this graphic novel celebrates a time in Argentine history when its art scene blossomed.

Beta Ray Bill #2 (Marvel) – The first issue was full of emotion and we’re hoping for more of the same with this as Beta Ray Bill really begins his journey to find himself.

Black Widow #6 (Marvel) – This series has been full of action and we expect more. Solid story and amazing art equals a must read for us!

BRZRKR #2 (BOOM! Studios) – The first issue was full of action and enough to get us to want to check out more. This is a summer popcorn film in comic form.

Cold Dead War #2 (Heavy Metal) – War action featuring zombies! Yeah, we’re in for it.

Friend of the Devil: A Reckless Book (Image Comics) – Ed Brubaker, Jacon Phillips, and Sean Phillips return for a new graphic novel featuring Ethan Reckless. The first was fantastic pulp noir entertainment and we’re expecting more of the same.

Harley Quinn #2 (DC Comics) – Future State delivered a new direction for Harley Quinn and this series is putting her in that direction. We really enjoyed the first issue that has Harley attempting to settle in her new role as hero.

Helm Greycastle #1 (Image Comics) – A new Latinx fantasy about a group of adventurers torn between saving a prince or helping the people.

The Marvels #1 (Marvel) – A journey through Marvel’s history spanning decades written by Kurt Busiek with art by Yildiray Cinar.

Miles Morales: Spider-Man #25 (Marvel) – We’d be lying if we said we weren’t intrigued my the new take on “The Clone Saga”.

The Modern Frankenstein #1 (Heavy Metal/Magma Comix) – A new twist on the classic tale. A surgeon wants to further medical science by any means necessary. So how far will the young medical student attracted to him go?

My Little Pony/Transformers II #1 (IDW Publishing) – The concept might be silly but the first volume was a lot of fun bringing the Transformers to the Pony’s world. Now, they’re heading to Cybertron!

Nuclear Family #3 (AfterShock) – We think we know what’s going on with this alternate history story but we’re not totally sure, so we absolutely want to read this one!

Robin #1 (DC Comics) – Damian strikes out in his own series and we’re here for it. This is a character that grew on us and we want to see if he can do so more.

Shadow Doctor #3 (AfterShock) – Based on a true story, the series is about a Black Doctor who has to go to Al Capone for money to start his business. It’s been amazing so far.

Shadowman #1 (Valiant Entertainment) – We’ve read the first issue and the entire team has loved it. It’s a fantastic start for the new series and great introduction to the character.

Snatched #1 (Scout Comics) – If you thought the drug game was deadly, wait until you see what goes down in the hair trade. Wait… what!?

Stake #2 (Scout Comics) – The first issue was absolutely fantastic and a nice take on the vampire genre. Mixing social media with good action, this is a series that we want to sink our teeth in to.

Summoners War Legacy #1 (Image Comics) – The popular mobile game comes to comics.

Teen Titans Academy #2 (DC Comics) – Who is Red X? Lets face it, that’s what we all want to find out. The first issue was decent but followed a concept we’ve seen before with fun characters but not a lot new… so far.

Your Turn to Die Vol. 1 (Yen Press) – The concept is basically Saw with a group of people but it’s so damn good. Check it out if you like that concept of puzzle-solving where you die if you fail.

Preview: Beta Ray Bill #2 (of 5)

Beta Ray Bill #2 (of 5)

(W) Daniel Warren Johnson (A/CA) Daniel Warren Johnson
Rated T+
In Shops: Apr 28, 2021
SRP: $3.99

VALHALLA IS CALLING, BETA RAY BILL!
Bill goes hunting for Odin, still desperate to resurrect his lost hammer Stormbreaker – but the former King of Asgard is far from his glory days. Stormbreaker is never coming back…but there is one place where Beta Ray Bill could restore his full powers. The All-Father of nothing offers the Korbinite a path to immortality – at a price not even a god can afford. Daniel Warren Johnson and Mike Spicer’s off-the-rails tale of cosmic vengeance and barroom breakdowns continues here!

Beta Ray Bill #2 (of 5)

Today is the Last Day to Save with the Marvel Beta Ray Bill Sale!

Beta Ray Bill #1 debuted this week and you can find out more about the character with the Marvel Beta Ray Bill Sale! The sale is currently running on comiXology and ends today!

You can get 99 releases and save up to 65% on collections with individual issues just $0.99.

So head to comiXology and save!

Beta Ray Bill: Godhunter

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Around the Tubes

Beta Ray Bill #1

Yesterday was new comic book day. What’d everyone get? What’d you like? What’d you dislike? Sound off in the comments below! While you think about that, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web to start the day.

Kotaku – Legal Action Being Taken To Prevent Attack on Titan Manga Upload Leaks And Spoilers – Interesting. Lets see how this goes.

CBR – WandaVision‘s Randall Park to Direct Shortcomings Graphic Novel Adaptation – Very nice!

Book Riot – Where to Start With Green Arrow – If you want some suggestions.

Reviews

CBR – Beta Ray Bill #1
Collected Editions – Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 5: The Joker War
The Beat – Witchblood #1

Review: Beta Ray Bill #1

Beta Ray Bill
Beta Ray Bill #1

There’s a lot of emotion wrapped up in Daniel Warren Johnson’s new Beta Ray Bill mini-series. In fact, it’s what stands out despite a giant set-piece fight in Asgard against a Fin Fang Foom bearing the mark of the King in Black. What’s at the heart of this comic is a very aesthetically charged look at beauty and self-worth, one that takes place amidst perfectly chiseled Vikings and Norse gods.

Beta Ray Bill #1 is basically a character study of the titular Korbinite (whose origin story sees the character transformed into the cybernetic creature he is today after the destruction of the Burning Galaxy by the hands of Surtur). Set within the events of The King in Black, Beta Ray Bill is tasked with protecting Asgard as its Master of War, wielding every weapon available to him except Stormbreaker, his iconic hammer. Thor broke Stormbreaker during a disagreement with Bill.

The story is adamant on getting to Bill’s insecurities and frustrations quick. Without spoiling much, his battle with Foom doesn’t go all that well and he’s upstaged by Thor. Bill thinks he’s at a disadvantage in these cosmic battles given Stormbreaker isn’t available to him, which makes him feel somewhat unprepared, inadequate even, to uphold the title given to him by Thor.

Daniel Warren Johnson, who also scripted the comic, portrays Bill like an exposed nerve, a powerful being that—regardless of being considered one of the strongest heroes in the galaxy—is still destined to lead the life of an outsider based on the way he looks. Johnson takes full advantage of this characterization to set him almost completely apart from the Asgardians, all of which are gloriously sculpted to physically embody the very concept godhood. Bill, on the other hand, looks uncomfortable in his own skin, self-aware. The comic points to making this type of self-perception the crux of its narrative, seemingly with the intent to challenge it.

Along with Mike Spicer on colors, Johnson’s art is outstanding. The energy he brings to all his stories have a deeply metal feel to it, almost as if you could hear Iron Maiden or Dio blasting in the background as the story unfolds. Beta Ray Bill is no exception. If anything, the book forms a certain kinship with another of Johnson’s books: Murder Falcon.

Beta Ray Bill
Beta Ray Bill #1

In Murder Falcon, heavy metal and giant monsters clash in a story that’s also about the emotional composition of a person’s sense of self, about how people feel in terms of regret, time, and death. That story’s approach to raw emotion seems to carry over somewhat to Beta Ray Bill, as does its contemplation on relationships and how they can be both restorative and destructive. For Bill, this aspect comes up with through his relationship with Lady Sif.

This is where the comic finds its most heart-wrenching moments. The degree of honesty behind them result in a series of emotionally harrowing sequences that make Bill questions his feelings as to his place in Asgard, among those he’s either befriended or expressed a more intimate kind of love to. By the end of my first read of this first issue, I felt my heart give a heavy pound or two as certain intimate things came to the fore. It’s a testament to how well-crafted Johnson’s script is and how good he is at capturing emotions in his comics.

Beta Ray Bill #1 is primed to be an emotional adventure with a mind to keep things cosmic both inside and outside its main character. To say that it’s exceptionally illustrated and colored is to state the obvious. Johnson and Spicer are a formidable storytelling team and if there’s one guarantee in all this is that the comic’s visuals will settle for nothing less than unforgettable. While that is special in itself, it’s the story’s heart where new narrative possibilities spring forth to entice readers. Expect this journey to tap into your entire emotional spectrum and remember to take your time enjoying each panel. Wondrous things abound in every one of them.

Script/Art by Daniel Warren Johnson Colors by Mike Spicer
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy and keep a box of Kleenex close by.

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyAmazonKindleZeus ComicsTFAW

Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

Avengers: Curse of the Man-Thing #1

Wednesdays (and now Tuesdays) are new comic book day! Each week hundreds of comics are released, and that can be pretty daunting to go over and choose what to buy. That’s where we come in

Each week our contributors choose what they can’t wait to read this week or just sounds interesting. In other words, this is what we’re looking forward to and think you should be taking a look at!

Find out what folks think below, and what comics you should be looking out for this week.

Avengers: Curse of the Man-Thing #1 (Marvel) – Writer Steve Orlando takes Man-Thing through a journey in this mini-series celebrating the character.

Beta Ray Bill #1 (Marvel) – Can Beta Ray Bill finally get the spotlight he deserves?

Crossover #5 (Image Comics) – The series has gone back and forth across line of being a bit too self-referential and inside jokes but it’s a hell of a concept and it’s interesting to see what else the team folds in.

Nuclear Family #2 (AfterShock) – The first issue was intriguing and left us in the middle of a bombed-out American town. What is going on!?

The Other History of the DC Universe #3 (DC Comics) – The series has been impressive at how honest it’s been with each issue. This one takes on Katana during the 80s!

Power Rangers Unlimited: Heir to Darkness #1 (BOOM! Studios) – The popular villain Astronema gets the spotlight as her origin is revealed.

Shadecraft #1 (Image Comics) – Zadie Lu is convinced that the shadows are trying to kill her and something weird is going on in her small town.

Silk #1 (Marvel) – A character that always deserved to be a bigger deal than she was, we’ll see if this miniseries is finally the one to put her over the top and cement A-status.

Two Moons #2 (Image Comics) – This horror series set during the Civil War had a solid debut and we want to see where it goes from there.

Witchblood #1 (Vault Comics) – A modern story of a witch cruising the Southwest as a gang of biker vampires wants the source of her coven’s power.

Young Hellboy: The Hidden Land #2 (Dark Horse) – The first issue had a fun pulp sense about it and we’re hoping for more of that.

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