Beta Ray Bill’s home world is gone, and Surtur is to blame.  Now, it’s time for vengeance.  Your Major Spoilers review of Beta Ray Bill #5 from Marvel Comics awaits!


Writer: Daniel Warren Johnson
Artist: Daniel Warren Johnson
Colorist: Mike Spicer
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino with Johnson
Editor: Wil Moss
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: July 28, 2021

Previously in Beta Ray Bill:  Beta Ray Bill and his allies must fight the ultimate battle against Surtur, the fire god responsible for the destruction of Bill’s home planet!  It’s going to take an eminent amount of power to defeat this foe!  But with his goals in sight, is Bill ready to pay the cost required to return to his former self?


We open with Beta Ray Bill and his allies (Pip The Troll, Skurge The Executioner and Skuttlebutt, the living avatar of his home/ship) finding their way to Muspelheim to confront Surtur himself.  Fortunately, the fire god is unable to use his mystical sword of power, but he still has plenty of juice to defend it, even if he can’t wield it.  Beta Ray Bill goads him into fighting one-on-one, at  (mostly) mortal level, punching each other senseless while Skuttlebutt and Skurge work to put together her backup plan.  When Bill’s might proves more than Surtur can handle, he finds himself impaled on one of the sharp promontories of his realm, leading Surtur to return to his full might to burn Beta Ray Bill to death.  A one-two punch of Pip and Skurge knock Surtur down, leaving Beta Ray Bill to take his mystic weapon and hack off the monster’s head, finally returning to his normal form once and for all.

With the battle over, the Valkyries arrives to take Skurge back to Valhalla, while Pip and Bill try to come to terms with all that has happened, with Bill finding himself missing his powerful alter-ego.


Throughout this entire miniseries, I have marveled at how much it felt like something from Image or Dark Horse rather than a Marvel book.  Johnson’s art reminds me of the work of Sam Keith in places, with battle sequences that evoke Fico Ossio’s work on No One Left To Fight, and it’s remarkable work throughout.  There are some issues with clarity here and there, and I find that the transitions between Johnson’s lettered panels and the parts of the book lettered by Sabino to be difficult to overcome, the sheer enthusiasm and raw power of the art is quite good.  Likewise, I enjoy the camaraderie in this odd grouping of protagonists, though it feels odd for Skurge to be obsessed with being Bill’s “wingman.”  I also appreciate seeing Pip The Troll nearly sacrificing himself for his friends, even if it feels a bit out of character for the hedonistic troll.


All in all, even with my concerns about some of the storytelling, Beta Ray Bill #5 serves as a good final chapter of the series, with wild, evocative art and a story that unites odd characters in classic fashion, feeling for all the world like a creator-owned island in the midst of the Marvel U, earning 3 out of 5 stars overall.  There’s a lot to like here, and the ending has a built-in hook for more adventures, if enough readers agree with my positive impression.

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A Unique Experience

It's not going to be to everyone's liking, but it's a very specific, very stylized kind of comic that we don't get a lot of in the Marvel Universe.

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Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.

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