Pull of the Week:
Beta Ray Bill: Godhunter #3 – Marvel – $3.99
I want more Beta Ray Bill. There, I said it. As long as Kieron Gillen writes it, I will be picking up anything that has the horse-headed version of Thor in it. Either that or more stories of Galactus and his heralds written by Kieron works too. This issue concludes the miniseries in fantastic style as the much made fun of hero Beta Ray Bill nears completion of his quest to eliminate Galactus. The issue opens with a scene the likes of which had only been witnessed with Galactus’s imprisonment to Annihillus during the Annihilation Wave (which is also shown during the issue) as the fading World Eater discusses the current state of affairs with his two heralds, Stardust and the Silver Surfer.
The opposing forces of the Silver Surfer and Beta Ray Bill play greatly in this issue as both are the sole survivors of their respective races at Galactus’s hands and seeing how they respond to that in different ways leads to some great moments between the two in this issue. Now, in addition to being hunted by Beta Ray Bill, Galactus must deal with the survivors of the I’Than race who now seek vengeance upon Galactus and Stardust. Beta Ray Bill finds the Surfer on a desolate, unpopulated planet where he looks to battle his old friend.
Silver Surfer halts Beta Ray Bill’s attack, now without the power of his Stormbringer hammer after the heinous actions Bill did in the previous issue to get them to leave their planet. Instead of fighting, Surfer explains to Bill the consequences of what could happen if Galactus were to be killed, knowing full well that in the god’s weakened state, Bill could have the power to finish Galactus off. They also know that the I’Than are on their way as well.
This is the way a miniseries should be done. A character that cannot necessarily pull the weight in the long term is given the chance to shine and be built up alongside a stronger character that has real importance to the world they are in. By Beta Ray Bill declaring war on Galactus, most would consider the character insane but Bill’s tactic of destroying planets before Galactus can feed is a brilliant plan for the often disrespected character. And the kink thrown in from the I’Than’s refusal to have their planet destroyed causing Bill to blackmail them with a virus which causes him to lose the use of Stormbringer gives a great domino effect of cause and effect story telling.
The ending (which I won’t spoil for you since it is that good) continues adding layers of depth to Beta Ray Bill and even helps give a little more credence to the idea of Galactus as being a god. Sometimes it is easy to forget how the gods in the Marvel world can be deities since they often can be defeated by mortal characters like Mr. Fantastic. It is also hard for some people to understand the idea behind a god being killed or dying but Keiron Gillen does a great job bringing that concept to reality in this miniseries. And Kano, despite his shared name with the laser eyed mercenary from Mortal Kombat, proves his skill as a penciler in this issue. His take on the broken Galactus is shocking as he brings a personality to the often stone jawed world eater. Front to back, the issue is beautifully illustrated.
Despite what may look like low sales numbers because “Beta Ray Bill” isn’t a name that often sells books, Beta Ray Bill: Godhunter is a fantastic story. From its original idea behind it along with the shocking method in which it was carried out, it is a great read throughout. Hopefully, when the upcoming S.W.O.R.D. #1 comes out in November, Beta Ray Bill will get to play a better role in it as he has been associated with the S.W.O.R.D. organization during the course of this series. For those who didn’t pick this up, get the trade as it is a nice short read that will inevitably make you care more about the character as it did me.
28 Days Later – Boom! – $3.99
With the recent trend of the past few years being zombies in comics between the Marvel Zombies series and “Blackest Night”, in addition to tons of smaller stories from every company out there, it was only a matter of time before one of the most popular zombie movies of recent memory came to the comic page. 28 Days Later takes place sometime after the events of the movie as the surviving characters of the original story are referenced. The book opens to a flashback of the series’ main character Selena during her escape from London with a few brief glimpses when she dealt with the infection’s spread.
Now, some time later, Selena finds herself amongst a refugee camp with her fellow British countrymen in Norway where she sits quietly and keeps mostly to herself in a small tent. This is where she is visited by Clint Harris, an American reporter looking to find out the truth about what happened in England with the infection. Knowing that the governments won’t let the truth out, he wants to take a team in to London, the heart of the infection, before the army can clear it out and he wants Selena to be his guide. Reluctantly, Selena agrees but not before letting the team know that they can’t even begin to understand the things they will see in London when they get there.
28 Days Later is probably one of the best recent film to comic adaptations of the past few years. The characters are well put together and have been given some decent personality building moments within the first issue, at least for the two main characters. The story holds true to the film’s fiction and gives a brief nod to it without overdoing the fan service by repeatedly taking moments from the original work.
The fact that they are able to do the book without any of the original characters also helps it since the reader doesn’t come in with any preconcieved notions of what to expect from the characters in it. Much like the film, this is a survivor’s tale and focuses on how the characters are dealing with their present circumstances. Just living in this world, whether they are in or out of the quarantine zone doesn’t feel safe. As seen in the film, even the “safe places” can quickly become dangerous places to be and everyone there either knows it and fears it or is entirely way too overconfident about it.
Writer Michael Alan Nelson does a great job of handling the tension in the dialogue between the characters. Thus far, only our main character Selena has dealt with the infection and she knows this will quickly change. While the team thinks she is too skittish, she knows what’s to come for all of them on this trip. The emotions she deals with when first asked to be the guide are also handled well as she feels disrespected by someone having the gall to ask her to return to the place she had to do so much to escape from and that they actually wanted to put themselves and her back in harm’s way. Declan Shalvay’s dark art style is also a very good fit for the book. This isn’t a bright and cheery world anymore after the infection began killing it off and Declan’s pencils portray that perfectly.
For a comic based off a movie, 28 Days Later does a stand up job in both keeping true to the fiction surrounding it while avoiding the usual faults that most movie tie-in books often suffer from. Taking a page from The Walking Dead, there is more focus on telling a story about the characters involved than the shock value gore associated with zombie tales. But for those fans of the horror genre, it looks like it should be on their pull list for at least the next few issues to see how it pans out.
Batman and Robin #3 – DC – $2.99
Since its first issue, little by little Batman and Robin has lost impact with each issue that comes out. After being beaten and captured for his headstrong attack on Professor Pyg’s lair in the previous issue Robin Damien Wayne listens to a diatribe that goes to show how insane his foe is. Unfortunately it is some of the most annoying monologue writing of recent memory as the few pages become painful to read through. If not for Frank Quitely’s artwork, those pages alone could have caused a reader to close the book rather quickly and toss it back on their pile.
Much as expected, before Damien can be turned in to one of Professor Pyg’s minions he mounts an escape as Batman “interrogates” the flaming man about the whereabouts of the Pyg’s pen. Sadly, not much happens that comes as a surprise in this issue other than the sudden change in Damien Wayne’s personality. Instead of being the stubborn kid he was in the last issue, he seems to have lost his ego by the time Batman shows up. Even though Damien is supposed to only be ten years old, it’s hard not to think somewhat less of him for backing down so quickly as a person as opposed to the sped up maturation of the character. The only real significance to the issue comes in the final pages where the villain who will be rearing his head in the coming issues of the series makes his appearance.
Try as I might, I just can’t call Damien Wayne by the name “Robin”. There is just nothing about this kid to like. There is no level of connection between him and the audience like there was for Dick Grayson, Jason Todd or Tim Drake. Though he is Bruce Wayne’s son, as a reader I just don’t want him to don the cape and mask. It is, however, much easier to accept Dick Grayson’s role as the new Batman even though more focus of the issue gets put on Damien than Dick. The villain of Professor Pyg does little for the initial storyline as he feels like a poor man’s version of the joker.
He intends on infecting Gotham with a viral drug in hopes of creating an army of mentally disturbed followers in silly outfits. Add in the gibberish he speaks in and you have a Joker that no one really cares about. Professor Pyg almost takes the role that a local wrestler would on the Saturday morning wrestling program where a no name would take on the likes of Hulk Hogan just so Hulk could walk away with a dominating victory. In the end, the hero looks good momentarily but people don’t remember the foe he defeated. Obviously DC didn’t want to dedicate a stronger value villain like the Joker, Two-Face or Killer Croc to being the first victory for the new Batman and Robin duo.
What started off as a strong re-debut for the characters has already seemingly fallen back in to standard territory. Quitely’s art also becomes a distraction more and more as the issue continues along with Morrison’s storytelling which seems to jump all over as to what Batman is doing and what is going on around them. Though Quitely’s panel and storytelling skills saved the Pyg monologue, his pencils in general don’t do the book much justice. Lines often appear sloppy, anatomy off and instead of shadows, everyone has really awkwardly placed body hair stubble. For the hardcore Batman fans, it will be interesting to see how they follow this new dynamic duo. The charm of the original pairing doesn’t exist and the urge to vote for the death of this Robin in Jason Todd style increases with every appearance of the character.