Tag Archives: daniel warren johnson

Search for Hu banner ad

All-star talent celebrate the Fantastic Four’s 60th Anniversary this November

This November, fans will get to experience two of the Fantastic Four’s greatest adventures in a brand new way in Fantastic Four Anniversary Tribute #1! This giant-sized issue will present classic stories with stunning new artwork by today’s leading artists.

Sixty years ago, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby made history and brought about the beginning of the Marvel Age of comics with the release of Fantastic Four #1. Now a bevy of Marvel’s finest creators will pay tribute to that monumental moment by reinterpreting, page by page, the story from that inaugural release as well as Fantastic Four Annual #3, the wedding of Reed Richards and Sue Storm!

Written by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, it features the art by Aco, Aaron Kuder, Adam Hughes, Albert Monteys, Alessandro Cappuccio, Bryan Hitch, Cafu, Carlos Pacheco, Chris Sprouse, Daniel Warren Johnson, David Lapham, Elsa Charretier, Erica D’Urso, Federico Vicentini, Greg Land, Javier Rodriguez, John Cassaday, John Romita Jr., Kate Niemczyk, Kei Zama, Leinil Francis Yu, Leonard Kirk, Lucas Werneck, Luciano Vecchio, Marco Checchetto, Mattia Del Mundo, Neal Adams, Nic Klein, Olivier Coipel, Paco Medina, Patch Zircher, Pepe Larraz, Ray-Anthony Height, Rod Reis, Ron Fenz, Simone Di Meo, Stefano Caselli, Steve Epting, Tom Reilly, Salvador Larroca, Jorge Fornes, Kim Jacinto, Walt Simonson, Leonardo Ortolai, Sanford Greene, Terry Dodson, and Mark Bagley. It features a main cover by Steve McNiven and variant cover by Jim Cheung.

See this modern take on two of the most pivotal moments in Marvel Comics history when Fantastic Four Anniversary Tribute #1 hits stands in November!

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


Purchase: comiXologyAmazonKindleZeus ComicsTFAW

Preview: Superman: Red & Blue #5

Superman: Red & Blue #5

Written by: Daniel Warren Johnson, Mark Buckingham, Joshua Williamson, G. Willow Wilson, Judd Winick
Art by: Daniel Warren Johnson, Mark Buckingham, Chris Sprouse, Valentine De Landro, Ibrahim Moustafa

There’s no dog in the Multiverse quite like Superman’s real best friend, Krypto! Join us this month for an epic retelling of Superman’s canine companion’s origin story, along with four additional tales about the Man of Steel, including one that proves that even in his secret identity Clark Kent is just as super. While Superman is known for his larger-than-life heroism, in this issue we tell the story of a delicate infant rocketed through the unforgiving universe! Also, meet for the first time the man rescued by Superman more often than anyone else in the Multiverse. And follow Pa Kent as he learns what it really means to be the father of a superhero. You won’t want to miss the penultimate issue of this star-studded anthology celebrating the Man of Steel!

Superman: Red & Blue #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)

Science Dog, Murder Falcon, and Assassin Nation Return in Skybound X #3

Image and Skybound revealed a first look at Skybound X #3, the weekly comic book event that’s both bark AND bite featuring the return of the greatest genius canine adventurer AKA Science Dog, and the next chapter of the new The Walking Dead epic “Rick Grimes 2000.” The third issue of this historic weekly event series arrives in July from the star-studded Robert KirkmanRyan OttleyCory WalkerDaniel Warren JohnsonKyle Starks, and Erica Henderson.

If you want to know what to expect in Skybound’s next ten years, it all continues in this extra-length issue with a celebration of the company’s most acclaimed series including Assassin Nation, featuring the return of fan-favorite and the (not) totally-family friendly icon F*ck Tarkington AND a rip-roaring throwdown continuing the incomparable comic book experience known as Murder Falcon.

Skybound X #3  will be available at  comic book shops  and digital platforms including Amazon Kindle, Apple Books, comiXology, and Google Play on Wednesday, July 21:

  • Skybound X #3 Cover A by Arthur Adams (Diamond Code MAY210045)
  • Skybound X #3 Cover B by Cory Walker (Diamond Code MAY210046)
  • Skybound X #3 Cover C by Erica Henderson (Diamond Code MAY210047)
  • Skybound X #3 Cover D by Daniel Warren Johnson (Diamond Code MAY210048)
  • Skybound X #3 Cover E 1:10 Incentive Cover by Cory Walker (Diamond Code APR219072)
  • Skybound X #3 Cover F 1:10 Incentive Cover by Erica Henderson (Diamond Code APR219073)
  • Skybound X #3 Cover G 1:10 Incentive Cover by Daniel Warren Johnson (Diamond Code APR219074)
  • Skybound X #3 Cover H 1:25 Incentive Cover by Arthur Adams (Diamond Code APR219075)

Image and Skybound Reveals New Skybound X Covers

The comic book event of the summer is almost here and Image and Skybound revealed rare new variant covers to all five issues of Skybound X. The weekly series features the first appearances of Clementine (the star of the bestselling video game series TELLTALE’S THE WALKING DEAD), Everyday Hero Machine Boy and Sea Serpent’s Heir along with the return of fan-favorite “Rick Grimes 2000”! Join the most-superstar-packed lineup in comics as Robert Kirkman, Ryan Ottley, Tillie Walden, Donny Cates, Joshua Williamson, Chip Zdarsky, James Harren, and Daniel Warren Johnson celebrate the past, present, and future of the Skybound beginning Wednesday, July 7.

The newly revealed incentive variant covers feature stunning black and white versions of the previously announced covers to Skybound X, with extra rare versions of the main cover art featuring “Rick Grimes 2000” and the most shocking vision of The Walking Dead you’ve ever seen!

Skybound X #1  will be available at  comic book shops  and digital platforms including Amazon Kindle, Apple Books, comiXology, and Google Play on Wednesday, July 7 with subsequent issues releasing weekly.

On-Sale Wednesday, July 7, 2021:

  • Skybound X #1 Cover A by Ryan Ottley (Diamond Code MAY210037) 
  • Skybound X #1 Cover B by James Harren (Diamond Code MAY210038) 
  • Skybound X #1 Cover C by Tillie Walden (Diamond Code MAY210039) 
  • Skybound X #1 Cover D by Charlie Adlard (Diamond Code MAY210040) 
  • Skybound X #1 Cover E Blank Sketch Cover (Diamond Code MAY210041) 
  • Skybound X #1 Cover F 1:10 Incentive Cover by James Harren (Diamond Code APR219065) 
  • Skybound X #1 Cover G 1:10 Incentive Cover by Tillie Walden (Diamond Code APR219066) 
  • Skybound X #1 Cover H 1:10 Incentive Cover by Charlie Adlard (Diamond Code APR219067) 
  • Skybound X #1 Cover I 1:25 Incentive Cover by Ryan Ottley (Diamond Code APR219068) 

On-Sale Wednesday, July 14, 2021: 

  • Skybound X #2 Cover A by Cliff Rathburn (Diamond Code MAY210042) 
  • Skybound X #2 Cover B by Andrei Bressan (Diamond Code MAY210043) 
  • Skybound X #2 Cover C by Tri Vuong & Irma Kniivila (Diamond Code MAY210044) 
  • Skybound X #2 Cover D 1:10 Incentive Cover by Andrei Bressan (Diamond Code APR219069) 
  • Skybound X #2 Cover E 1:10 Incentive Cover by Tri Vuong & Irma Kniivila (Diamond Code APR219070) 
  • Skybound X #2 Cover F 1:25 Incentive Cover by Cliff Rathburn (Diamond Code APR219071) 

On-Sale Wednesday, July 21, 2021: 

  • Skybound X #3 Cover A by Arthur Adams (Diamond Code MAY210045) 
  • Skybound X #3 Cover B by Cory Walker (Diamond Code MAY210046) 
  • Skybound X #3 Cover C by Erica Henderson (Diamond Code MAY210047) 
  • Skybound X #3 Cover D by Daniel Warren Johnson (Diamond Code MAY210048)
  • Skybound X #3 Cover E 1:10 Incentive Cover by Cory Walker (Diamond Code APR219072) 
  • Skybound X #3 Cover F 1:10 Incentive Cover by Erica Henderson (Diamond Code APR219073) 
  • Skybound X #3 Cover G 1:10 Incentive Cover by Daniel Warren Johnson (Diamond Code APR219074) 
  • Skybound X #3 Cover H 1:25 Incentive Cover by Arthur Adams (Diamond Code APR219075) 

On-Sale Wednesday, July 28, 2021: 

  • Skybound X #4 Cover A by Charlie Adlard (Diamond Code MAY210049) 
  • Skybound X #4 Cover B by Khary Randolph (Diamond Code MAY210050)
  • Skybound X #4 Cover C by Pablo Tunica (Diamond Code MAY210051) 
  • Skybound X #4 Cover D 1:10 Incentive Cover by Khary Randolph (Diamond Code APR219076) 
  • Skybound X #4 Cover E 1:10 Incentive Cover by Pablo Tunica (Diamond Code APR219077) 
  • Skybound X #4 Cover F 1:25 Incentive Cover by Charlie Adlard (Diamond Code APR219078) 

On-Sale Wednesday, August 4, 2021: 

  • Skybound X #5 Cover A by David Finch (Diamond Code MAY210052) 
  • Skybound X #5 Cover B by Chris Schweizer (Diamond Code MAY210053)
  • Skybound X #5 Cover C by Jason Howard (Diamond Code MAY210054) 
  • Skybound X #5 Cover D 1:10 Incentive Cover by Chris Schweizer (Diamond Code APR219079) 
  • Skybound X #5 Cover E 1:10 Incentive Cover by Jason Howard (Diamond Code APR219080) 
  • Skybound X #5 Cover F 1:25 Incentive Cover by David Finch (Diamond Code APR219081) 

Get a First Look at DC’s Green Arrow 80th Anniversary 100-Page Spectacular!

On June 29, join DC in celebrating eight decades of emerald-clad swashbuckling, crime-fighting, and trick arrows of every kind when the Green Arrow 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular #1! Honoring Green Arrow and his allies across his 80-year history, from the Golden Age to now, the anniversary special includes 12 stories from some of DC’s most esteemed writers and artists who have contributed to the legacy of Oliver Queen. The title will also include 8-decade variant covers depicting the Emerald Archer through the ages.

This anthology not only features a “who’s – who” of comic book storytellers but also includes a unique and heartfelt tribute to the career of iconic DC and Green Arrow scribe Denny O’Neil“Tap, Tap, Tap” is a silent, wordless story from Denny O’Neil’s son Larry, Jorge Fornes, and Dave Stewart. The story chronicles the challenges and victories in Denny’s life both in and out of comics, from his childhood, raising a family, his stellar career as a writer, until his passing in 2020

Additional stories in this anthology include:

  • “The Disappearing Bandit”
    Written by Mariko Tamaki, Art by Javier Rodriguez
    It’s the Golden Age of Green Arrow and Speedy, brought to humorous and loving life by New York Times bestselling writer Mariko Tamaki (Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass) and acclaimed artist Javier Rodriguez (Batgirl: Year One). A lot of people attempt to affectionately show the silliness of the first age of super heroes, but few have done it as exceptionally as Mariko and Javier. Trick arrows for everyone!
  • “Punching Evil”
    Written by Tom Taylor, Art by Nicola Scott, Colors by Annette Kwok
    To become a more adept superhero and fighter, Green Arrow goes to train with the Golden Age superhero Wildcat at his gym. In true Wildcat fashion, he shows Ollie the hard way of what it takes to be your own hero. Tom Taylor (NightwingSuicide SquadInjustice) brings this story to life, with incredible artwork from Nicola Scott (Wonder Woman 75th Anniversary Special) and Annette Kwok (Joker/Harley: Criminal Sanity).
  • “Who Watches the Watchtower?”
    Written by Stephanie Phillips, Art by Chris Mooneyham, Colors by Mike Spicer
    The Green Arrow is left behind on the Justice League Satellite while the rest of the team goes on an important mission. Oliver is less than thrilled, and righteously indignant about the situation as usual until an alien armada invades the Satellite. Can Ollie stand alone against an alien onslaught before it reaches earth? Acclaimed writer Stephanie Phillips (Harley Quinn) captures that “Denny O’Neil Green Arrow”-voice, and this story is brought to life in gorgeous fashion by Christopher Mooneyham’s (Nightwing) retro/modern bronze age aesthetic.
  • “Out of the Shadows”
    Written and Art by Mike Grell, Colors by Lovern Kindzerski
    Legendary Green Arrow writer and artist Mike Grell return to the 1980’s era of The Longbow Hunters. The Green Arrow must team up with the legendary anti-hero Shado to stop a shipment of smuggled guns from making it into Seattle. Depicting The Emerald Archer as only he can, Grell will remind readers why his take on Ollie Queen is still a Green standard.
  • “The Arrow and the Song”
    Written by Ram V, Art by Christopher Mitten, Colors by Ivan Plascencia
    This tale is a beautiful meditation on the love between Green Arrow and Black Canary through the years and the found family that they’ve created. Writer Ram V (Catwoman) puts together this beautiful story of love and how life takes turns you don’t expect. Gloriously brought to life by the work of Christopher Mitten (Batman: Arkham Unhinged) and Ivan Plascencia (The Flash).
  • “One”
    Written by Brandon Thomas, Art by Jorge Corona, Colors by Matheus Lopes
    We go right back to the mid-90s with this story. Oliver Queen is dead. Connor Hawke is Green Arrow and he has to save the main Queen Industries building in Star City, the home of a business and family he was never part of, from a group of terrorists. Brought to you by Infinite Frontier and Future State writer Brandon Thomas (Future State: Aquaman) and amazingly drawn by Jorge Corona (We Are Robin).
  • “Green Man and Autumn Son”
    Written by Devin Grayson, Art by Max Fiumara
    Catwoman writer Devin Grayson and artist Max Fiumara shine a spotlight on Roy Harper, a.k.a Red Arrow, as he continues to manage his transition from “sidekick” to adult hero, along with single parenthood and his struggles with addiction and recovery.
  • “Star City Star”
    Written and Art by Phil Hester, Inks by Ande Parks, Colors by Trish Mulvihill
    Phil Hester drew nearly fifty issues of Green Arrow in the early 2000s, working with popular writers like Kevin Smith, Brad Meltzer, and Judd Winnick. Here, Phil synthesizes what was so great about his run into a tremendous eight-page story. Green Arrow tries to save a young girl named Star who has been kidnapped but has to run through a gauntlet of his greatest villains and allies to get to her. Including: Onomatopoeia, Speedy (Mia Dearden), Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), Black Canary, Arsenal, Connor Hawke, and Count Vertigo.
  • “Happy Anniversary”
    Written by Vita Ayala, Art by Laura Braga, Colors by Adriano Lucas
    This story focuses on the point in time where Green Arrow and Black Canary were married right before the New 52. On the day of their anniversary, the two are at each other’s throats and then Green Arrow gets kidnapped. Black Canary thinks the kidnapping is part of an anniversary game/present but quickly discovers that Green Arrow has REALLY been kidnapped by DEATHSTROKE and she has to save him. Vita Ayala (Future State: The Next Batman) writes a wonderful Mr. and Mrs. Smith-style action rom-com brought to life by Laura Braga (DC Comics Bombshells).
  • “The Sympathy of the Woods”
    Written by Ben Percy, Art by Otto Schmidt
    It’s the DC Rebirth Era, Green Arrow is feeling lost, the world is getting worse, and he doesn’t feel like he’s making enough of a difference. To cheer him up, Black Canary, Red Arrow (Emiko Queen), Diggle, and Henry Fyffe try to throw him a party to remind him of the beautiful community he’s built. But what starts as a celebration will become a rescue mission as Green Arrow is hunted down by the Dark Archer known as MERLYN. From DC talents Ben Percy (Nightwing) and Otto Schmidt (Harley Quinn).
  • “The Last Green Arrow Story”
    Written by Jeff Lemire, Art by Andrea Sorrentino, Colors by Jordie Bellaire
    The acclaimed Green Arrow creative team from the New 52, New York Times Bestselling author Jeff Lemire (Sweet Tooth)  and Andrea Sorrentino (Joker: Killer Smile) tell a transcendent final tale of Oliver Queen. In his older years, he requests to be left alone on the island where he was stranded so many decades ago. He’s gone there to connect to his own myth, his legacy, and to die in peace. But is it ever that simple for The Green Arrow?

The variant covers for this must-have collector’s item come from some of the most prolific artists in comics:

  • 1940’s Variant: Michael Cho
  • 1950’s Variant: Daniel Warren Johnson
  • 1960’s Variant: Neal Adams
  • 1970’s Variant: Derrick Chew
  • 1980’s Variant: Gary Frank
  • 1990’s Variant: Howard Porter
  • 2000’s Variant: Jen Bartel
  • 2010’s Variant: Simone Di Meo

Green Arrow 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular #1 arrives in participating comic book stores and digitally on Tuesday, June 29, 2020, for $9.99.

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)

Get a New Look at Skybound X including New Covers and Clementine!

On Friday at Skybound XpoImage Comics and Skybound teased an early look at the first comic book appearance of Clementine (the star of the bestselling video game series Telltale’s The Walking Dead) and revealed jaw-dropping cover art from the hotly anticipated Skybound X weekly comic book event. Superstars including Robert Kirkman, Ryan Ottley, Tillie Walden, Donny Cates, Joshua Williamson, Chip Zdarsky, James Harren, and Daniel Warren Johnson will contribute stories to this five-issue limited series launching on Wednesday, July 7.

These freshly unveiled covers  include the main cover to Skybound X #2 spotlighting “Rick Grimes 2000” by Cliff Rathburn; the main cover to Skybound X #4 by Charlie Adlard featuring the Rick Grimes vs Negan battle you never expected; and the Skybound X #5 variant by Chris Schweizer bringing fans a behind-the-scenes look at The Six Sidekicks of Trigger Keaton!

If you want to know what to expect in Skybound’s next ten years, it all starts here with a celebration of the past, present… and the FUTURE! Each issue features a chapter of “Rick Grimes 2000,” the unforgettable story originally introduced in The Walking Dead #75, that reunites the Invincible team of Kirkman and Ottley! Plus, the first appearances of Everyday Hero Machine Boy, Sea Serpent’s Heir and more in this celebration of hit series like Excellence, Manifest Destiny, Ultramega, Assassin Nation, and more!

Skybound X #1  will be available at  comic book shops  and digital platforms including Amazon Kindle, Apple Books, comiXology, and Google Play on Wednesday, July 7, with subsequent issues releasing weekly:

  • Skybound X #1 Cover A by Ryan Ottley (Diamond Code MAY210037) 
  • Skybound X #1 Cover B by James Harren (Diamond Code MAY210038) 
  • Skybound X #1 Cover C by Tillie Walden (Diamond Code MAY210039) 
  • Skybound X #1 Cover D by Charlie Adlard (Diamond Code MAY210040) 
  • Skybound X #1 Cover E Blank Sketch Cover (Diamond Code MAY210041) 
     
  • Skybound X #2 Cover A by Cliff Rathburn (Diamond Code MAY210042)
  • Skybound X #2 Cover B by Andrei Bressan (Diamond Code MAY210043)
  • Skybound X #2 Cover C by Vuong & Kniivila (Diamond Code MAY210044)
     
  • Skybound X #3 Cover A by Arthur Adams (Diamond Code MAY210045)
  • Skybound X #3 Cover B by Cory Walker (Diamond Code MAY210046) 
  • Skybound X #3 Cover C by Erica Henderson (Diamond Code MAY210047)
  • Skybound X #3 Cover D by Daniel Warren Johnson (Diamond Code MAY210048) 
     
  • Skybound X #4 Cover A by Charlie Adlard (Diamond Code MAY210049)
  • Skybound X #4 Cover B by Khary Randolph (Diamond Code MAY210050)
  • Skybound X #4 Cover C by Pablo Tunica (Diamond Code MAY210051)
     
  • Skybound X #5 Cover A by David Finch (Diamond Code MAY210052) 
  • Skybound X #5 Cover B by Chris Schweizer (Diamond Code MAY210053)
  • Skybound X #5 Cover C by Jason Howard (Diamond Code MAY210054)

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

Almost American
« Older Entries