Thor Casts a Long Shadow
Written By: Daniel Warren Johnson
Art By: Daniel Warren Johnson
Colors By: Mike Spicer
Letters By: VC’s Joe Sabino, Daniel Warren Johnson
Cover Art By: Daniel Warren Johnson, Mike Spicer
Cover Price: $4.99
Release Date: March 31st, 2021
In Beta Ray Bill #1, Bill settles into his role as “Master of War” for Asgard without his beloved Stormbreaker. When a Knull-possessed Fing Fang Foom arrives to create some mayhem, Thor has to step in to shut things down. Bill’s old flames and older resentments come flooding back and readers are left with a hero in personal crisis.
Was It Good?
Yes in a sorrowful sort of way. You feel bad for Bill as he gets overshadowed, rejected, and dragged into a full-blown pity party. He’s trapped in a situation not of his making which hopefully leads to a personal journey that goes somewhere. If it doesn’t, this is one heck of a depressing comic. That’s said, it’s considered good because it plays the emotions well and the setup is not the least bit predictable for whatever comes next.
As you can see from the credits, this comic is practically a one-man show, and the art has that indie creator feel to it. Rough, thick lines are contrasted with bold colors reminiscent of an underground comic, especially during the action scenes. It’s definitely a departure from the Marvel house style. That’s not a bad thing, but it may not be every reader’s cup of tea if you’re expecting a polished look.
What’s It About?
We begin with a welcome recap of Beta Ray Bill’s origin as chosen protector of his people, the Korbinites. His horse-faced, cybernetic exterior is now permanent since Thor destroyed Stormbreaker way back when during a disagreement. Without it, Bill can’t revert to his original Korbinite body. Making the best of his situation, Bill accepts Thor’s offer to serve as Asgard’s “Master of War.”
During the King in Black event, Knull possesses Fing Fang Foom and sends the toothy dragon to Asgard to wreak havoc. Despite his best preparations, Bill is unable to fully defeat Foom and Thor has to come to the rescue, leaving Bill with an understandable sense of inadequacy.
During the victory celebrations, Sif catches up with Bill as his old flame. After a few drinks and revelry, the old flames heat up. However, Sif wasn’t aware that Bill is stuck in his from and she’s apologetically put off from sexy time.
At this point, it’s impossible not to feel bad for the guy. He’s stuck in a monstrous form. Thor is constantly stealing his thunder (Ouch!). And the woman he has a heart for can’t get past his hideous shell. On it’s face, this is a depressing book, but there’s loads of potential as long as Johnson goes somewhere with it.
Bill heads out to his ship, and Thor intercepts him to find out where he’s going. Bill unloads his frustrations and declares he needs to get his old self back by finding Odin and getting him to forge a new Stormbreaker.
We ends with a sad, lonely shot of Bill sitting in his ship as it flies off to some unknown destination.
Beta Ray Bill #1 doesn’t shy away from the downside of assuming the mantle form one of the greatest Avengers, especially when that Avenger is still around doing great things. The indie art has niche appeal but this reviewer likes it, and there’s a lot of potential for issue #2.