REVIEW: ‘Beta Ray Bill,’ Issue #1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Beta Ray Bill #1 - But Why Tho?Beta Ray Bill #1 is published by Marvel Comics, with writing and art by Daniel Warren Johnson, colors by Mike Spicer, and letters by Joe Sabino and Daniel Warren Johnson. The King in Black’s interstellar rampage has arrived on Asgard. Though Thor is currently on Earth, Beta Ray Bill prepares the defense of the realm eternal. But all is not right in the hero’s mind.

Self-worth is a complicated concept. We can be fully aware of all that we are, all that we have accomplished, and all the things we yet plan to do, while still managing to see ourselves as unworthy of what is rightfully ours. Somehow, we can see past all the good and spot that one aspect of ourselves we don’t like and make it the only thing that matters. It is a frustrating and agonizing situation to be in. And it seems Asgard’s resident Korbinite knows the feeling all too well. 

Beta Ray Bill #1 begins with Asgard coming under siege by Knull’s forces, led by the magical dragon Fin Fang Foom. Deprived of his favored weapon Stormbreaker, which was previously destroyed by Thor, Bill has his hands full with the oversized enemy. But despite his disadvantage, Bill doesn’t give up. Though it isn’t till Thor’s return that Agard’s safety is assured and Bill’s efforts are quickly forgotten.

Even before Bill is lost in Thor’s shadow, it is clear that his heart is deep in turmoil. Losing Stormbreaker not only diminished his abilities in battle but also deprived him of the ability to transform back to his natural state. And this perhaps is Bill’s biggest struggle. 

I’ll be honest. When I learned Beta Ray Bill #1 was coming, I didn’t expect it to be the start of a story about self-image and our struggles with how we value ourselves. But it’s what I got. And I’m thoroughly intrigued by where Johnson’s story will go from here. 

Having only ever seen Bill in the hammer-swinging, proud warrior ready to take on the universe mode, this much more somber tale is a new look for him. And it is exactly because of his usual demeanor that it hits so well. Even one such as Bill can struggle with his sense of self. Despite all he has accomplished. 

Johnson’s art in Beta Ray Bill #1 does an excellent job of bringing his story to life. The action hits hard, and the drama hits harder. As Bill struggles through this issue, Johnson’s art delivers every beat with clarity and emotion. 

The colorwork by Spicer further brings out the story’s energy. This is especially true during the opening battle sequence. Spicer’s use of dramatic lighting does a great job of bringing out the danger of the moments here. 

Delivering the final touches to this book are the letters. The lettering goes all out with the sound effects throughout the opening battle. The style, size, and placement of these sounds drive the action perfectly. Their heightened effect pushes these moments over the top, allowing the reader to almost feel the hits. 

When all is said and done, Beta Ray Bill #1 delivers an excellent, well-rounded beginning. This unexpected take on a classic character has me thoroughly intrigued to see where it takes its star next. 

Beta Ray Bill #1 is available now wherever comics are sold.

Beta Ray Bill #1
4.5

TL;DR

When all is said and done, Beta Ray Bill #1 delivers an excellent, well-rounded beginning. This unexpected take on a classic character has me thoroughly intrigued to see where it takes its star next.