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Review: Beta Ray Bill #5

Beta Ray Bill #5

Beta Ray Bill #5 is a fittingly primal conclusion to this heavy metal thunder cloud of a miniseries from writer/artist Daniel Warren Johnson, colorist Mike Spicer, and letterer Joe Sabino. This issue is all about the final showdown between Surtur and Bill for the fire demon’s sword Twilight, but each member of the small ensemble cast get a moment to shine before taking their final bow from Skurge getting a very big fun to Pip being heroic and resilient and Skuttlebutt doing her tech thing while also growing closer to Bill. This is kind of a romance, but there’s lots of punching.

And speaking of punching, Beta Ray Bill #5 reaches new heights with its action sequences as Johnson’s fight choreography and use of sound effects immersed me into the epic struggle between Bill and Surtur. Spicer lays down a kind of covering fire with his palette and helps the battle flow with a hellish palette and burst of flat colors any time a character has a big moment in the action. With a full-page splash of Surtur punching Bill into the stratosphere, the stakes are sky-high for our protagonist, and Daniel Warren Johnson doesn’t shy away from showing him struggle in the smaller panels of kicks and holds throughout the comic. He also wisely lays off the narration and lets the actions during the fight dictate the story’s momentum while occasionally cutting away to Bill’s friends ready to help him out with a last-minute save.

Beta Ray Bill #5 is definitely a comic about revenge and ultimately self-actualization (The final panel is a humanoid Bill looking in the mirror and seeing his horse form.), but found family is an ongoing thematic thread that gives the miniseries its heart. Bill picks up Pip and Skurge throughout his quest and has been with Skuttlebutt all along, and they are integral in his fight against Surtur. Pip risks his life firing away at Surtur while Bill lays wounded, and Johnson pours on the gritty facial expressions, shell casings, and later gore to show this is truly a moment of self-sacrifice. On the other hand, Skuttlebutt is the brains of the operation using the shockwaves of Bill and Surtur’s clash to power up the ship again and giving Skurge the chance to do what he does best: be a one man firing squad. Skurge gets a truly redemptive moment during the climax of Beta Ray Bill #5 that also allows Daniel Warren Johnson to draw a really gnarly and detailed gun. (Think banned Transformers toy!) He and Bill had a fun, bro-ish vibe in this comic, and nothing is better than beating the shit out of a 100 foot fire demon with your bro.

To some, the most controversial element of Beta Ray Bill is the very close to romantic relationship between Bill and his ship turned female robot, Skuttlebutt. With characters like Cortana and Brian Michael Bendis and Frank Cho’s sexy female Ultron, female A.I. have been a part of recent pop culture for better or cringe. Skuttlebutt falls more on the better side because she has an actual rapport with Bill during the action and flying scenes and loves him in both his humanoid and horse form. (Bill went on this quest to get a magic weapon that could help him return to his human form so he could be with Sif, initially.) This is a loud, explosive comic, but Daniel Warren Johnson chooses to end it on a quiet note of Bill and Skuttlebutt holding hands and watching his favorite movie, Hook. Skuttlebutt has seen Bill at his best and worst so maybe she really is the woman or A.I. for him. It’s a little weird, but Bill is an alien with cyborg parts doing his best to be human and Skuttlebutt is a ship/artificial intelligence doing her best to be human so it works.

Beta Ray Bill #5 is a glorious finale filled with wrestling holds, airbrush on the side of your van-worthy splashes, and some heart and friendship too as Bill’s quest comes to a satisfying close. Daniel Warren Johnson and Mike Spicer helped me fall in love with a character that I wasn’t super familiar with and also demonstrate how sound effects and the use of color can help turn a fight scene into a story. I look forward to their next project, Marvel or otherwise.

Story/Art: Daniel Warren Johnson
Colors: Mike Spicer Letters: Joe Sabino
Story: 9.0 Art: 10.0 Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Exclusive Preview: Extreme Carnage: Lasher #1

Extreme Carnage: Lasher #1

(W) Clay McLeod Chapman (A) Chris Mooneyham (CA) Skan (VCA) Jeff Johnson, Skottie Young
Rated T+
In Shops: Aug 04, 2021
SRP: $3.99

WITNESS THE BIRTH OF A NEW SYMBIOTE!
Four issues into the Carnage event of the summer and the bodies just keep piling up – including some of the Venomaniacs the Mighty Marveldom know and love! But now is not a time to mourn for fallen heroes (or their symbiotes). CARNAGE is on the loose, and he’s building an army…

Extreme Carnage: Lasher #1

A New Day for Evan Narcisse, Writing WWE & Black Panther

“Being a Black fan means loving media that doesn’t necessarily love you back” — writer Evan Narcisse.

Evan joins me to talk about his new comic about the groundbreaking and radically fun wrestling stars, New Day, race, creativity, and change in the wrestling industry as well as his work on Rise of the Black Panther. No wrestling knowledge is necessary for this episode.

Evan Narcisse is a writer and consultant who works in video games, comic books, and TV, often focusing on the intersection of blackness and pop culture. He was a journalist and critic for many years, having previously written for The Atlantic, Time Magazine, Kotaku, io9, and The New York Times. He’s taught a course on video game journalism at New York University and appeared as an expert guest on CNN and NPR. He’s the author of the Rise of the Black Panther graphic novel for Marvel Comics and served as a narrative design consultant on the upcoming Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales video game. A native New Yorker, he now lives in Austin, Texas. https://twitter.com/evnarc

Preview: Usagi Yojimbo: Dragon Bellow Conspiracy #2 (of 6)

Usagi Yojimbo: Dragon Bellow Conspiracy #2 (of 6)

(W) Stan Sakai (A) Stan Sakai (CA) David Petersen
In Shops: Jul 28, 2021
SRP: $3.99

A web of deceit and intrigue grows wider as more players are drawn in to a far-reaching power struggle! For Usagi, it will mean a fight to the death in one of his most harrowing battles ever, with the vengeful ninja Shingen! All new colors bring this classic Usagi story to life like never before!

Usagi Yojimbo: Dragon Bellow Conspiracy #2 (of 6)

Preview: George R.R. Martin’s A Clash of Kings (Vol. 2) #14

George R.R. Martin’s A Clash of Kings (Vol. 2) #14

writers: George R.R. Martin, Landry Walker
artist: Mel Rubi
covers: Mike Miller (A) Mel Rubi (B) Mel Rubi (RI-Virgin) Mel Rubi (RI-B/W) Mike Miller (RI-Virgin)
FC | 32 pages | Fantasy/Adventure | $3.99 | Mature

With their options running out at Harrenhal, Arya, Gendry, and Hot Pie make a desperate move. While to the South at Kings Landing, the fires of war begin to wane and Sansa feels a stirring of hope for her future. But even though Joffrey has released her from her vow to wed, the young maiden’s freedom is still desperately out of reach. The Clash of Kings draws towards its close, but the Game of Thrones forever marches on as we explore the final chapters in George R. R. Martin’s epic masterpiece – a Song of Ice and Fire.

George R.R. Martin’s A Clash of Kings (Vol. 2) #14

Preview: Star Wars Adventures #7

Star Wars Adventures #7

(W) Sam Maggs, Landry Quinn Walker (A) Liana Kangas, Nick Brokenshire (CA) Francesco Francavilla
In Shops: Jul 28, 2021
SRP: $3.99

The Empire has been defeated, but that doesn’t mean that the adventures are over for Luke and Leia, who find themselves in a tricky situation that they have to work together to get out of! Plus, the Crimson Corsair and his band of pirates make their Star Wars Adventures debut!

Star Wars Adventures #7

Preview: Sacred Six #11

Sacred Six #11

writer: Christopher Priest
artist: Fritz Casas, Stephane Roux
covers: Lucio Parrillo (A), Julius Ohta (B), Raymund Bermudez (C), Daniel Maine (D), Warren Louw (E), (RI/Virgin), Daniel Maine (RI/Virgin), Raymund Bermudez (RI/Virgin), Warren Lowe (RI/ BW Virgin, Lucio Parrillo (RI/BW), Lucio Parrillo (RI/BW Virgin)
FC | 32 pages | Sword and Sorcery | $3.99 | Teen+

In our penultimate issue, our ladies who comprise the SIX find themselves hopelessly outgunned by the hordes of LEVITICUS, and to make matters worse, one of the SIX isn’t on the same page as the rest! Could a guilty conscience take them all down?! Meanwhile, DRACULINA plots her revenge on her hated sister and the origin of NYX comes to its four-degree burn!

Sacred Six #11

Preview: Star Trek: Year Five #23

Star Trek: Year Five #23

(W) Jackson Lanzing, Collin Kelly (A/CA) Stephen Thompson
In Shops: Jul 28, 2021
SRP: $3.99

A Tholian horde bearing down on Earth, a time-traveling madman out for blood, a rot festering within the highest levels of the Federation that’s about to explode – and that’s just where we begin! The biggest battle the Enterprise and her crew have ever faced continues in part two of the amazing three-part finale of Star Trek: Year Five from showrunners Jackson Lanzing & Collin Kelly (Gotham City Garage, Green Arrow) and artist Stephen Thompson (Satellite Falling, Dis Hard: Year One).

Star Trek: Year Five #23

Preview: Sonjaversal #6

Sonjaversal #6

writer: Christopher Hastings
artist: Pasquale Qualano
covers: Lucio Parrillo (A), Joseph Michael Linsner (B), Jae Lee & June Chung (C), Junggeun Yoon (D), Savannah Polson Cosplay Variant (E), Junggeun Yoon (RI/BW), Jae Lee (RI/BW), Joseph Michael Linsner (RI/BW), Savannah Polson Cosplay Variant (RI/Virgin), Joseph Michael Linsner (RI/BW Virgin), Jae Lee (RI/BW Virgin)
FC | 32 pages | Action/Adventure | $3.99 | Teen+

ALL-NEW STORY! ALL-NEW SONJA’S! PERFECT JUMPING-ON POINT FOR NEW READERS!

A low-level criminal is suddenly making a big mysterious underworld splash…which is remarkable, considering that the guy’s very recently DIED. Sounds like a case for NOIR SONJA. But not only does N.S. have to solve The Mystery Of The Successful Cadaver, she’s got to manage the arrival of a whole new cadre of Sonja’s that’ll throw her investigation for a loop…

Sonjaversal #6
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