Four Colour Thoughts – Beta Ray Bill #1

The Creators – Daniel Warren Johnston – Writer/Artist, Mike Spicer – Colours; Joe Sabino, Daniel Warren Johnston – Letters

The Players – Beta Ray Bill, Sif, Thor, Fin Fang Foom

The Story – Who or what is Beta Ray Bill without Stormbreaker?

The Take – Daniel Warren Johnston, late of Wonder Woman: Dead Earth among other things, takes on one of the more fascinating characters in the Marvel Universe in Beta Ray Bill and while the book is packed with action from nearly cover to cover, it turns out to be a character piece underneath. For those that have been keeping up with Thor’s ongoing title, he has become the King of Asgard and in a slight bout of madness, shattered Bill’s hammer Stormbreaker. In doing that, he shattered an essential piece of who Bill is, of who he has become over the years since receiving it and thus a piece of his confidence went with it. He is still a hero, brave and true but he is hollow, so much has he come to rely upon his hammer. Making things just a little bit worse is the fact that he can no longer switch back to his regular form, now stuck in his more muscular alter-ego and while it comes in handy with him fighting monsters such as the invading Fin Fang Foom who is under the control of Knull, it is not adequate enough for the gentler things in life such as making love to a beautiful woman like Sif. Johnston does an amazing job in this first issue and while it flies by at an exponentially fast pace, his understanding of the character and the way he puts it all on the page more than make up for it. The artwork is beautiful, slightly rough and gritty and perfectly suited to a tale such as this, Beta Ray Bill perhaps never having looked better than he does here which stacks Johnston up against some great artists that have preceded him. The choice of villain was perfect, not Knull but Foom and the destruction caused by the dragon was impressive in its violence. Additionally, Johnston takes a look back upon the origins of Beta Ray, of when he was a small child and he was chosen by the elders of his tribe to get the surgery and of how he met Skuttlebut, his life-long companion. Though it might only be the first issue, one can tell that this is going to be one incredible story by the time it is through and hopefully when it is all said and done, Bill finds a bit of inner acceptance and quite possibly, a new hammer.

Worth It? – Yes.

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