January 21, 2022

Gabbing Geek

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Slightly Misplaced Comic Book Heroes Case File #251: Beta Ray Bill

Not every Thor looks human.

You know, I was seriously thinking about quitting this column last week.  That was the big 250, and I doubt anyone would blame me for stopping right then and there.  But the thing is, every time I get to a Case File that is divisible by 50, I think about maybe retiring this at least as a weekly, and then I’ll think of some other superhero and here we are.  I mean, this is probably the most original content I put up here every week.  That must account for something.

But, since I covered two of the three members of the Thor Corps, I might as well cover the last one.  Here’s Beta Ray Bill.

Beta Ray Bill is basically alien Thor.  He may or may not truly be a misplaced hero.  He appears semi-regularly throughout various Marvel books, especially Thor’s own book.  He even occasionally gets his own mini-series or joins a superteam like the Canadian Omega Flight or the current Guardians of the Galaxy comic book roster.

Say, that Omega Flight team included U.S.Agent.  That was a really weird Canadian team…

Anyway, I think Bill disappears regularly enough to count him for this.

Beta Ray Bill is an alien member of Korbinite race.  Their homeworld was destroyed, and Bill was chosen to take care of an advanced scout ship, the Scuttlebutt, while the rest of his people were in suspended animation.  He wasn’t the first chosen so much as the first to survive the various enhancements the Korbinites gave him to make him the ultimate protector.

However, the Scuttlebutt caught Earth’s attention, causing Thor to go out and investigate.  Thor’s hammer Mjolinir gave off similar energies to whatever destroyed the Korbinite homeworld, so the ship attacked Thor.  Bill, woken by the fight, went out to see what was happening and he and Thor got into a fight.

During the course of the fight, Bill lifted Mjolinir and gained Asgardian-level powers.

Now, Odin being Odin at first thinks there can be only one Thor, so he arranges for the two to fight to the death.  Bill actually wins, but he also saves the Odinson’s life.  And since Bill refuses to leave his post, Odin decides the only other thing to do is make Bill his own hammer, Stormbreaker.

From there, Bill would pop in from time to time to help Thor or various other space-based Marvel heroes.  Wanna show a cosmic baddie is really tough?  Have him beat Beta Ray Bill in a fight.  Want to put a twist on an old romance?  Show Bill getting close to Lady Sif.  Bill’s a noble guy, but aside from his horse-like appearance, I think my favorite thing about the guy is he was created by Walt Simonson.

See, Simonson’s epic run on Thor is probably the best known period in Thor’s comic book history.  This is largely due to the fact Simonson crafted many of Thor’s adventures from old Norse myth.  And then, in the middle of it, there’s this alien hero who has what it takes to lift an enchanted warhammer.  That’s just so delightfully weird.

By the by, Bill appears in lots of places.  He popped up in a single episode of the animated Silver Surfer animated series.

That’s about all I remember from that series.

And, for some reason, he took the Surfer’s role from the animated version of the Planet Hulk animated movie.  And heck, the guy’s face appears in the MCU’s Thor: Ragnarok.

See?

Huh.  Maybe he isn’t so Misplaced after all.

Oh well.  I got another column out of him.  Let’s see who comes up next…

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