Archive for the ‘Beta Ray Bill’ Category

Annihilators: Earthfall #4 of 4

June 14, 2014

Annihilators - Earthfall 4 of 4A-story: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning // Tan Eng Huat
B-story: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning // Timothy Green II
February 2012
A-story: ** // B-story: **

Avengers & Annihilators (terrible name) foil an invasion of Earth by linking alien tech somehow. The vague plot & fumbling art brings to a sad end this v.g. six-year run. At least the ‘coon & the tree, holdovers from the run’s brighter era, get to blast off into the sunset.

last issue: Annihilation: Earthfall #3 of 4

also indexed for Feb. ’12
Avengers: The Children’s Crusade #8 of 9
The Fantastic Four #601
FF #13

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Annihilators: Earthfall #3 of 4

June 13, 2014

Annihilators - Earthfall 3 of 4A-story: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning // Tan Eng Huat
B-story: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning // Timothy Green II
January 2012
A-story: *** // B-story: ***

A cosmic boy-antichrist has installed himself, Midwich Cuckoo-like, in millions of minds; among the heroes, only the Kirby tyrant has the balls to zap the innocent & save the galaxy! Meanwhile, DnA burlesque the editorial interference of the SF line via a monstrous, meddling TV exec from ’80s X-comics.

last issue: Annihilators: Earthfall #2 of 4
next issue: Annihilators: Earthfall #4 of 4

also indexed for Jan. ’12
The Fantastic Four #600
FF #12

Annihilators: Earthfall #2 of 4

June 12, 2014

Annihilators - Earthfall 2 of 4A-story: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning // Tan Eng Huat
B-story: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning // Timothy Green II
December 2011
A-story: * // B-story: **

The dutiful Marvel misunderstanding, wherein our team of galactic heroes mix it w/ the Avengers. Huat detracts from that formula by staging combat as H’wood-style demolitions, w/o context or finesse. In the back-up, however, Green imaginatively & attractively offers Flash Gordon-type fun.

last issue: Annihilators: Earthfall #1 of 4
next issue: Annihilators: Earthfall #3 of 4

also indexed for Dec. ’11
FF #10
FF #11

Annihilators: Earthfall #1 of 4

June 11, 2014

Annihilators - Earthfall 1 of 4A-story: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning // Tan Eng Huat
B-story: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning // Timothy Green II
September 2011
A-story: ** // B-story: ***

DnA phone in their swansong on Marvel’s SF renaissance. The galactic super-squad discovers a fundamentalist space-sect’s outpost on Earth. Huat draws an awkward, rubber-faced variation on Marvel house style. Worse, RR & Groot, demoted to true back-up status, get only a few pages for a bar brawl.

continued from Annihilators #4 of 4
next issue: Annihilators: Earthfall #2 of 4

also indexed for Sept. ’11
Avengers: The Children’s Crusade #7 of 9
FF #9

Annihilators #4 of 4

June 10, 2014

Annihilators 4 of 4A-story: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning // Tan Eng Huat
B-story: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning // Timothy Green II
August 2011
A-story: *** // B-story: ***

A team of forest animals stop a disembodied telepath from escaping from their biotech lunatic asylum! The idea’s treated just tongue-in-cheek enough, while the art nails the absurdity w/ a smart, contempo style. The title team, meanwhile, brokers a peace btw longtime Marvel antags the Spaceknights & the Dire Wraiths, in a quality demo of cosmic compassion triumphing over violent solutions.

last issue: Annihilators #3 of 4
continued in Annilators: Earthfall #1 of 4

also indexed for Aug. ’11
Avengers: The Children’s Crusade #6 of 9
FF #5

Annihilators #3 of 4

June 9, 2014

Annihilators 3 of 4A-story: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning // Tan Eng Huat
B-story: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning // Timothy Green II
July 2011
A-story: ***
B-story: ***

The back-up’s stronger than the title tale, due partly to the superb self-inking of Green as against Huat’s generic super-action. Still, the space opera has its quality moment when its heroes learn that a once-fearful race of Marvel aliens desire only oblivion, broken by exile in a dark dimension. Meanwhile, the creators revise the insane origin of 1980s cult char, a Flash Gordon-like raccoon.

last issue: Annihilators #2 of 4
next issue: Annihilators #4 of 4

also indexed for Jul. ’11
FF #3
FF #4

Annihilators #2 of 4

June 8, 2014

Annihilators 2 of 4A-story: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning // Tan Eng Huat
B-story: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning // Timothy Green II
June 2011
A-story: ** // B-story: ***

This mag’s main story has a squad of galactic superheroes smash a dark invasion in defense of an alien world. Compared with their previous SF mags, this reads like the writers are following an editorial edict rather than their own super-SF muses. They show more excitement over the B-tale, which has a hyperintelligent raccoon & a Kirby-monster tree-man fight a cadre of killer clown puppets!

last issue: Annihilators #1 of 4
next issue: Annihilators #3 of 4

also indexed for Jun. ’11
Avengers: The Children’s Crusade #5 of 9
FF #2

Annihilators #1 of 4

June 7, 2014

Annihilators 1 of 4A-story: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning // Tan Eng Huat
B-story: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning // Timothy Green II
May 2011
A-story: ** // B-story: ***

Sadly, a coda to Marvel’s SF ’00s renaissance rather than a renewal. The A-tale has a fembot lampshade the flaw in this mag’s mission: a galactic supersquad is too uniform in style & strength to be truly compelling. The back-up balances the read by focusing on oddballs cut from the main team. Offering two full-length comics, this mag should really be printed back-to-back, like the old Ace Doubles!

continued from The Thanos Imperative: Devastation #1 of 1
next issue: Annihilators #2 of 4

also indexed for May ’11
Avengers: The Children’s Crusade: Young Avengers #1 of 1
FF #1

The Thanos Imperative: Devastation #1 of 1

June 6, 2014

Thanos Imperative - Devastation 1 of 1Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning // Miguel Sepulveda
March 2011
**

An epilogue to Marvel’s most recent space opera and a prologue for their next mini. It’s a conventional exercise in superhero team-gathering. While Ab & Lan write good dialogue, they fail to tell who these heroes are (personality, superpower, or history). Plus, the line-up’s testosterone-heavy.

continued from The Thanos Imperative #6 of 6
continued in Annihilators #1 of 4

also indexed for Mar. ’11
Avengers: The Children’s Crusade #4 of 9
The Fantastic Four #587

The Thanos Imperative #6 of 6

June 5, 2014

Thanos Imperative 6 of 6Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning // Miguel Sepulveda
January 2011
***

Thanos resurrects Death in a universe where Undying Gods have reigned. To stop his return to our ‘verse, Nova & Star-Lord (the leads in this era’s SF revival) halt the Mad Titan like Butch & Sundance. Tho’ this finale satisfies, it replaces the characters & twists of the lead-in mags w/ super-movie bombast.

last issue: The Thanos Imperative #5 of 6
continued in The Thanos Imperative: Devastation #1 of 1

also indexed for Jan. ’11
Avengers: The Children’s Crusade #3 of 9
The Fantastic Four #585

The Thanos Imperative #5 of 6

June 4, 2014

Thanos Imperative 5 of 6Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning // Miguel Sepulveda
December 2010
***

A busy issue, as Nova preps for a noble sacrifice. Meanwhile, surprise conversations juice the plot. First, the evil Scarlet Witch is really a mole, motivated by love for the Vision (nice to see someone gets her character this decade!). Then Thanos pulls a heel turn, literally begging for a final death.

last issue: The Thanos Imperative #4 of 6
next issue: The Thanos Imperative #6 of 6

also indexed for Dec. ’10
The Fantastic Four #584

The Thanos Imperative #4 of 6

June 3, 2014

Thanos Imperative 4 of 6Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning // Miguel Sepulveda
November 2010
***

Thanos, Avatar of Death, cannot die, tho’ it’s all he wishes for; ironically, he must reintroduce Death to a mirror universe. Less compelling are the heroic aliens who fly thru a space station ripping monsters apart—standard super-stuff, w/o even the space-opera scope that most of TI offers.

last issue: The Thanos Imperative #3 of 6
next issue: The Thanos Imperative #5 of 6

also indexed for Nov. ’10
Avengers: The Children’s Crusade #2 of 9
The Fantastic Four
 #583

The Thanos Imperative #3 of 6

June 2, 2014

Thanos Imperative 3 of 6Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning // Miguel Sepulveda
October 2010
***

The fourth (?) space war in recent years gets a strong dose of metaphysics. In the parallel universe ruled by Cthulu gods, Captain Marvel became Life’s avatar rather than dying. Then, to extinguish Death utterly, he sacrificed his opposite, Thanos, in an arcane ritual that unbalanced his cosmos!

last issue: The Thanos Imperative #2 of 6
next issue: The Thanos Imperative #4 of 6

also indexed for Oct. ’10
The Fantastic Four #582

Maximum Security #3 of 3

September 10, 2013

Maximum Security 3Kurt Busiek // Jerry Ordway
January 2001
**

Superheroes stop an alien intelligence from turning Earth into an interstellar bio-electrical WMD. A confusing climax to a conventional crossover, whose potential rarely came into focus. Ordway’s flat art lends the feeling that Max Sec is a ’80s DC tale bloated by minor plots & lapsed characters.

continued from Avengers #35
last issue: Maximum Security #2 of 3

also indexed for Jan. ’01
Avengers #36

Maximum Security #2 of 3

September 8, 2013

Maximum Security 2Kurt Busiek // Jerry Ordway
December 2000
**

The Reagan-era Captain America holds the line against criminal ET immigrants & uncovers a conspiracy by the great Kirby AI, the Kree Supreme Intelligence. A creative slant on alien invasion, tho’ a bit right-wing by design. Ordway echoes this conservativism, a throwback to dull early ’80s art.

continued in Avengers #35
last issue: Maximum Security #1 of 3
next issue: Maximum Security #3 of 3

also indexed for Dec. ’00
Avengers #35

Civil War #7 of 7

June 12, 2011

Mark Millar // Steve McNiven
January 2007
*
Ugh. An ADD switcheroo moves the fight to midtown. All these superpowers are used to bludgeon (‘cept teleporting). With anticlimactic irony, Cap realizes that there’s no point to the entire conflict! The only sensible outcome is Tony Stark, Director of SHIELD. Thus ends the ’00s Secret Wars.
[last issue: Civil War #6 of 7]

The Mighty Thor #372

April 19, 2011

Walt Simonson // Sal Buscema
October 1986
***
Where #371 was a British pastiche, #372 owes something to the whimsy of Thor’s Journey into Mystery era. Jane Foster cameos as an unknowing damsel-in-distress whose murder prompts a quick timeloop! The tone’s at odds w/ Simonson’s mythic adventure, as Thor helps a sci-fi timecop to kill a demon.
[last issue: The Mighty Thor #371]
[next issue: The Mighty Thor #373]

The Mighty Thor #371

April 18, 2011

Walt Simonson // Sal Buscema
September 1986
***
After all the epic fun, this ish is quite a comedown. Balder fills the throne of Asgard (empty since #353), which leaves Thor to resume superheroics on Midgard. His first foe is an homage to the British fascist future cop, Judge Dredd; his second is a slasher demon who’d fit in Moore’s Swamp Thing.
[last issue: The Mighty Thor #370]
[next issue: The Mighty Thor #372]

The Mighty Thor #367

April 12, 2011

Walt Simonson
May 1986
****
Amid much pomp, a new monarch is crowned over Asgard—a nice turn has Thor abdicate to Balder the Brave. The new arc has intrigues aplenty, both romantic & Machiavellian, but the best twist is the worry that royal responsibilities will throw the fraternal bond btw the two men into conflict.
[last issue: The Mighty Thor #366]
[next issue: The Mighty Thor #368]

The Mighty Thor #364

April 7, 2011

Walt Simonson
February 1986
*****
This is Loki’s greatest act of mischief: he’s transformed Thor into a large frog! It’s part of his plan to take the throne of Asgard. Now the hero’s stranded in Central Park, helping a tribe of croakers war against local rats. Brilliant! More like Watership Down than either Lee/Kirby or Norse myth.
[last issue: The Mighty Thor #363]
[next issue: The Mighty Thor #365]

The Mighty Thor #363

April 6, 2011

Walt Simonson
January 1986
***
Secret Wars II arrives at Thor’s doorstep, having roped Beta Ray Bill into its mini. The Beyonder supercharges a thug to wallop Thor. But w/ assistance from the Power kids, Thor teaches the omnipotent naïf about family & ironic motives. The last, a surprise, shows Simonson’s confidence w/ his mag.
[continued from Power Pack #18]
[last issue: The Mighty Thor #362]
[next issue: The Mighty Thor #364]

The Mighty Thor #359

March 28, 2011

Walt Simonson
September 1985
****
Loki dances a pas de trois with Thor & the siren of Asgard, aiming to ascend to the kingdom’s throne. Despite all the women involved (Sif appears too), the dialogue doesn’t exactly pass the Bechdel Test. But the arc has its romantic pleasures, esp. when a bewitched Thor catches the couple in bed!
[last issue: The Mighty Thor #358]
[next issue: The Mighty Thor #360]

The Mighty Thor #358

March 27, 2011

Walt Simonson
August 1985
***
In the ruins of Asgard, a sorceress bewitches Thor but gives her heart to Loki. On Earth, Bill faces a cadre of robot-armored thieves. Thor hasn’t offered conventional NYC superheroics in a while, but this plot—involving Vietnam vets & a Soviet foe of Iron Man—reminds us why we haven’t missed ’em!
[last issue: The Mighty Thor #357]
next issue: The Mighty Thor #359]

The Mighty Thor #357

March 25, 2011

Walt Simonson
July 1985
****
Simonson’s recharged after his break from art duties: his lines seem zippier & more confident. He’s brewing a Shakespearean struggle for the throne of Asgard, now that Odin’s dead. A warm subplot dips into soap opera, as Beta Ray Bill romances Sif while tracking high-tech armored bank robbers.
[last issue: The Mighty Thor #356]
[next issue: The Mighty Thor #358]

The Mighty Thor #355

March 24, 2011

Walt Simonson // Sal Buscema
May 1985
***
Sal Buscema takes the art duties, bringing his old-fashioned Kirby-lite style to a schmaltzy tale. A retired god, nine feet tall, imparts a few words of sentimental wisdom to a mopey Thor. Still, the ish has a confident tone & a few deeper strokes, like the ice maidens who perish in a day.
[last issue: The Mighty Thor #354]
[next issue: The Mighty Thor #356]

The Mighty Thor #354

March 23, 2011

Walt Simonson
April 1985
****
An epilogue to the Surtur Saga lends gravity to Odin’s sacrifice. When the Death Goddess claims the All-Father’s soul, Thor’s reaction is rage, an obvious displacement of his filial grief. But then, an immortal would rarely confront death. This note & others touch on the gap btw divinity & humanity.
[last issue: The Mighty Thor #353]
[next issue: The Mighty Thor #355]

The Mighty Thor #353

March 21, 2011

Walt Simonson
March 1985
****
Loki takes the role of rescuing cavalry, a fun heel/face turn. Then Odin plummets with the Fire Demon off into the void, but it feels like a sensational twist rather than an earned sacrifice. W/ Asgard in flames, the Saga of Surtur closes. The art & plot conjoin in a Thor story for the ages.
[last issue: The Mighty Thor #352]
[next issue: The Mighty Thor #354]

The Mighty Thor #352

March 20, 2011

Walt Simonson
February 1985
*****
A sublime arc is traced at a gallop: #352 begins & ends w/ heroes on the defensive, but in btw. they’re roused by victories. Beta Ray Bill & Mr. Fantastic turn the demons’ line in NYC, but in Asgard the Demon Lord fells Odin & preps the apocalypse! Note how Thor is MIA all ish, anteing the stakes.
[last issue: The Mighty Thor #351]
[next issue: The Mighty Thor #353]

The Mighty Thor #351

March 18, 2011

Walt Simonson
January 1985
*****
In NYC, Bill leads gods, heroes, & US Marines in a grand battle v. fire demons; in Asgard, Surtur the Demon Lord shatters the rainbow bridge then bests Thor! Nearly every page features all-caps SFX (a Simonson hallmark), & note how panels shift from large to small depending on the moment. Epic!
[last issue: The Mighty Thor #350]
[next issue: The Mighty Thor #352]

The Mighty Thor #350

March 17, 2011

Walt Simonson
December 1984
*****
This grand arc aspires to (& reaches!) a Tolkein-like tone, a/w/a the reckless momentum of old Lee/Kirby glories. The armies of Asgard are marshaled, w/ allies like Bill & the Avengers and foes like the Enchantress among them! They array themselves against the fire demons in a wintery NYC melee.
[last issue: The Mighty Thor #349]
[next issue: The Mighty Thor #351]

The Mighty Thor #349

March 15, 2011

Walt Simonson
November 1984
****
Each issue of Simonson’s first year has upped the ante on his epic. Now he breaks to offer a Tale of Asgard, laying down exposition to raise the stakes. Long ago, Odin battled Surtur (the approaching fire demon) & left his bros behind in a hell dimension to delay the apocalypse—till now!
[last issue: The Mighty Thor #348]
[next issue: The Mighty Thor #350]

The Mighty Thor #340

March 4, 2011

Walt Simonson
February 1984
*****
The climax to Simonson’s first arc fuses space epic & Norse myth like no once since Lee & Kirby—and maybe not even them! The melancholy Bill partners up w/ Thor to save his race, a fleet of galactic refugees, & his valor earns a reward from Odin: ironically, it’s Thor’s “cursed” life as a mortal!
[last issue: The Mighty Thor #339]
[next issue: The Mighty Thor #341]

The Mighty Thor #339

March 3, 2011

Walt Simonson
January 1984
*****
Simonson packs #339 with event, setting up multiple conflicts concurrently (in standard ’80s style) but w/ a tone of grandeur & portent. Sif battles a giant dwarf (huh?) & pines for the bionic alien Bill. A setpiece unlike any prior shows the epic forging of an enchanted warhammer to match Mjolnir.
[last issue: The Mighty Thor #338]
[next issue: The Mighty Thor #340]

The Mighty Thor #338

March 2, 2011

Walt Simonson
December 1983
****
Simonson’s burly style synthesizes Kirby w/ Adams yet has its own fully formed aesthetic. After providing a sci-fi backstory for his noble alien, Simonson pits the horse-faced warriors against Thor in a grand duel in a field of lava. But he also finds space for a couple of scenes among Asgardians.
[last issue: The Mighty Thor #337]
[next issue: The Mighty Thor #339]

The Mighty Thor #337

February 28, 2011

Walt Simonson
November 1983
*****
In his inaugural issue, Simonson nails the mag’s epic grandeur—& pulls a brilliant surprise too! An oncoming starship contains an alien menace (quirkily named Beta Ray Bill) who proves worthy of wielding Mjolnir. He (it?) gets shanghaied off to Asgard, leaving Don Blake stranded & mortal in Midgard!
[last issue: The Mighty Thor #336]
[next issue: The Mighty Thor #338]