Comics : Stormbreaker #6

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This review was first published on: 2005.

Background...

Beta Ray Bill has suffered greatly, he's seen the end of two worlds, both of which he called home. As quite possibly the last of the Korbinites, he will have to endure new twists of fate as he says goodbye to the old as he makes way for the new. Now in possession of a new body and face, Bill finds he has to make his way through a new world, Earth! Starting over is never easy, and for Beta Ray Bill it means a new world...as well as a new fight, which means it's time for the arrival of... Spider-Man!

Other than this (re-edited), (Marvel-generated, promo) paragraph, I have to honestly I'm not entirely certain what has gone on in this Limited Series prior to this, the sixth and final issue. Needless to say, as this is the one that guest stars Spidey, this is where we come in.

In Detail...

"The Death and Life of Beta Ray Bill"
Stormbreaker #6
Aug 2005 : SM Guest
Summary: Spider-Man Appears
Editor:  Tom Bervoort
Writer:  Dan Berman, Michael Avon Oeming
Artist:  Andrea DiVito
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As we join this story (already in progress) something has seriously happened to Beta Ray (near as I can determine, it involved the destruction of both Asgard and New Korbin, Beta Ray himself being a Korbinite, as well as involving Galactus), Needless to say, Beta Ray has been seriously trounced and his "essence" has been sent to Earth. As this story opens, a homeless man named Simon Walters (a gulf war vet, notice the homage to Walt Simonson, former writer/artist on Thor, and the creator of Beta Ray Bill) has died in a back NYC alleyway during the night. A bright light signaling a celestial event of some sort (thing Arnold Schwarzenegger's eventful arrival in this time stream in The Terminator), and Simon's corpse returns to life. Only it isn't Simon occupying this human shell, it is the essence of Beta Ray Bill.

Stunned by the enormity of the event, Simon/Beta Ray stumbles out of the ally and into the Street, just as the celestial even that brought him to this plane of existence, precipitates a thunderstorm of epic proportions. Simon/Beta Ray stumbles out into the street, causing an on coming car to violent swerve and smash into a lamppost.

Simon/Beta Ray, still dazed is confused as the driver climbs out of his upended vehicle. Needless to say, the driver, a very burly, tattooed individual, is quite angry, and, blaming Simon/Beta Ray for the crash, transforms into The Boar, and sideswipes Simon/Beta Ray into the side of a nearby building. As Simon slumps to the ground, The Boar comments that he needs to be moving on, before Spider-Man catches up with him again (none of the Spider-Man/Boar stuff occurred in the previous issue, and thus, has obviously has occurred "off-camera").

Cut to Spider-Man hauling a school bus back onto a nearby, unnamed, bridge, behind him is the wreckage of a pair of cars. What has obviously has occurred, is that the wreckage we see has been caused by the Boar (in his human form) while fleeing from Spidey. As Spidey is utilizing his webbing to pull the bus back onto the bridge, a firefighter grabs Spidey from behind, "anchoring" him as he pulls the bus back to safety (as if Spidey really needs the help). Once the bus is secure on the roadbed, the nearby crowd cheers the firefighter. As Spidey swings off, he grouses that the crowd loves the guy who provided (unneeded) assistance to him, but still regards him as some sort of menace.

Meanwhile, as the Boar makes his exit, he body slams an observer to his accident and altercation with Simon who has been taking pictures of the event. Simon comes to, and shouts at the Boar, who turns back towards Simon, determined to put him down for good. The Boar charges Simon, who dodges and transforms into Beta Ray, and throws down in a powerful way on the Boar.

Spidey, hot on the Boar's trail swings by just as the airborne Boar pile drives him into the top floors of a nearby high-rise. Suddenly, truly frightened by going mano-a-mano with someone who has the power of Thor, the Boar is understandably recalcitrant about continuing the fight. Needless to say, Spidey is somewhat confused by first the Boar careening through the air, and second, by his ramblings about Spidey's "partner."

Just then, Beta Ray comes flying through the hole in the building that the Boar's and Spidey's dramatic entrance. Not truly aware of Beta Ray's identity Spidey tries to stop him from pounding the Boar into bacon, and so Spidey, true to form, clashes with Beta Ray. In a show of his appreciation, the Boar puts a bear hug (pig hug?) on Spidey, who launches the pair back through the outside wall and towards the street. As they fall, Spidey shoots off a web line and snags the side of the building. As the pair falls, the web line snaps taut, propelling them back into the building.

At this point Spidey and Beta Ray realize they are both on the same side, and double-slam the Boar into unconsciousness. Spidey webs the Boar up, and the pair of heroes walk away. Spidey buys a pizza and then he and Beta Ray 9who has now regained his Simon Walters form) retire to a ledge to eat and talk. There, Simon relates his story to Spidey; over the next five pages of the comic Simon tells of an epic battle with the evil Omega Ray over a Meta-Orb that had somehow absorbed the Korbinite survivors.

Beta Ray also tells of a ghostly figure who appeared to Beta Ray, after he defeated Omega Ray. The figure then retrieved the orb, and sent Beta Ray to Earth to reside in, and revive the corpse of Simon Walters. Having finished his tale, Simon reveals to Spidey that he knows his people are safe, changes back into Beta Ray Bill, and soars off as Spidey also returns to his regular routine.

In General...

The story is told well enough (especially for those of us who just wandered in because Spidey showed up). It looks like this is going to be a re-boot for Beta Ray, the art is clean, and the action is well-paced. All of the characters appear to be in character and the dialogue is crisp. Again, I'm not entirely certain what went on previously, but with the recap in this issue, most of the pieces deo seem to fall into place. Still, the recap at the end feels somewhat forced, and had I read the previous issue (or actually cared about Beta Ray, shouldn't have been necessary as I would have read the previous issues and would already know this (unless it, like the whole Boar sub-plot, occured between issues).

As it stands, however, as a pick-up spidey appearance, it wasn't half bad.

Overall Rating...

Not a bad guest appearance as far as they go. Spidey didn't really play an integral part in the story, but his dialogue and characterization were OK, so we're fine with that. Plus (even though I really didn't know what had occurred previously in the Stormbreaker series), it was nice to read a Beta Ray story that acknowledged Walt Simon's creation of the character.