Archive for Beta Ray Bill


Thor and the Warriors Four #2

I’ve never really been into Power Pack. And I freely admit that the entire reason I started collecting this miniseries is because I saw a preview of this cover, which made me laugh like a hyena.

Oh, man, I’m gonna have to explain this for people who aren’t up on their Thor continuity, aren’t I? The big guy there is Beta Ray Bill, an alien who was the first non-Asgardian to be worthy enough of being able to pick up Mjolnir, Thor’s hammer. Odin gave him powers like Thor’s, and both of them consider each other great friends, if not outright brothers. And yes, he really does look like a horsey.

Aaaaaanyway, in this issue, the Power Pack kids make their way to the Rainbow Bridge that leads from our world in Midgard to the home of the Norse gods in Asgard. They meet a kindly peddler who offers them some more appropriate, Viking-esque clothing to help them disguise themselves, then march into Asgard and start their own superheroic careers as the Warriors Four. In time, this gets them a meeting with Thor himself, and the heroes swap stories — Thor’s being properly mythological and heroic, and the Power kids’ being a bit less so. The Powers tell Thor and Bill that their grandmother is dying, and they want to take some of the gods’ Golden Apples to her to make her well. Before Thor can tell them that it can’t be done, a frost giant attacks, and the kids help defeat it. But it’s all part of someone else’s evil plot — the kindly peddler was really Loki in disguise and he uses the kids’ Norse costumes to… Well, that would be telling.

And then there’s the backup story by Colleen Coover, as Hercules and the Power Pack beat the stuffing out of HYDRA, all while Herc tells the kids stories about his Twelve Labors. But can they complete the greatest labor of all — cleaning up the house?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Very funny, very awesome, and much like Mjolnir, very much worthy of being picked up. Outstanding cartooning all around, and great funny lines and situations. Yes, Katie Power drives Bill half crazy by wanting him to be a big magical pony, which is hilarious and adorable… as are the dreadful fates visited upon Thor, Bill, and Odin…

Batman and Robin #12

Damian’s mother has secretly implanted control devices into his new artificial spine, allowing Deathstroke to take control of his body and attack Dick Grayson. The good news is that the neural interface isn’t perfect, and it lets Batman hurt Slade by punching Robin. It takes Deathstroke out of the fight and gives Robin control of his body back. Batman and Robin travel to Talia’s hideout and beat up her goons. Damian tells her that he’s perfectly happy being Robin, and Talia tells him she respects his decision — but she’s disowning him, because she’s growing his clone, who’s going to be her new son. Returning to Gotham City, Batman, Robin, and Alfred discover evidence that Bruce Wayne is lost in time, Dr. Hurt prepares the forces of the Black Glove for more attacks, and Dick Grayson discovers that Oberon Sexton is really… Well, that would be telling.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s good. It’s really just fantastically good, every step of the way through.

Madame Xanadu #22

As Nimue and mysteriously superhuman detective John Jones hurry to stop Morgana’s schemes in 1950s America, Morgana is enjoying being worshiped by a bunch of mind-controlled cultists. Nimue and Mr. Jones have intercepted one of Morgana’s artifacts — the war helmet of Morgana’s son, Mordred — and her frustration with its loss leads her to gruesomely kill two of her cultists. When our heroes arrive, they have little trouble with Morgana’s cultists, but her spells prove to be a lot more difficult to shrug off.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Again, it’s great fun to see the Martian Manhunter in action here. Heck, even when Morgana is being her most rotten, it’s mainly an irritation that John Jones isn’t front and center, showing off…

Jonah Hex #55

So five years ago, a bunch of saloon robbers tore into a bar, killed the owner and his wife, and got captured by Jonah Hex, leaving little Billy, a explosives-obsessed toddler, orphaned. The kid steals Hex’s gun away and kills the surviving robbers himself, with four bullets and four perfect headshots. Years pass, and another bunch of banditos show up to rob the joint. Billy, now calling himself Billy Dynamite, owns the place now, and he stuffs an oversized firecracker in the leader’s mouth. The rest of the gang set the bar on fire, strap Billy with dynamite, and throw him inside. Hex gets persuaded to do something about it, so he catches the gang, ties ’em up, and leaves ’em suspended over multiple packs of explosives before blowing ’em all to kingdom come.

Verdict: Thumbs down. This story has some serious problems. First, Billy doesn’t really change in appearance over five years — he starts out looking like he’s five, and by the time he’s ten, he still looks like he’s five. And dangit, you don’t take a saloon-owning pre-teen, make him a pint-sized badass, give him a moniker like “Billy Dynamite,” and then just kill him off. That’s a character with some serious personality, and you keep him around so you can use him again in future stories. You do not just cast him aside like he ain’t awesome. And finally, the ending is just too abrupt. Hex captures and kills the gang in just three pages, and he doesn’t even use a gun to do it — just fifty sticks of dynamite. That don’t seem like the Jonah Hex way, sir. So yeah, a rare (hopefully) Gray-and-Palmiotti misstep here.

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