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In my time reading comics there have been very few characters in the Marvel Universe that can go toe to toe against the God of Thunder and defeat him. And there have been even fewer characters in the universe that have been deemed worthy of wielding Thor’s mighty hammer Mjolnir. What would you say if I can find one character in particular that has beaten Thor in a fight and he has also been deemed worthy of holding Mjolnir. You might say “that’s crazy” but actually there has been someone who has done it and that hero’s name is Beta Ray Bill,
Beta Ray Bill was
created during one of Thor's most definitive runs in comics by the great Walt
Simonson. The idea behind Beta Ray Bill is pretty neat. He is a guardian cyborg for an alien race that
had lost their home planet called the Korbonites. While they were sailing through the galaxy their
ship flew to close to earth and it was targeted as a threat by
SHIELD. Alerted by the ship, SHIELD
contacts Thor to check out what was hovering near earth. Thor investigates the ship and immediately
Bill goes to action. The two battle it
out in the ship, but during the scuffle Thor loses his hammer Mjolnir and
reverts back to Donald Blake. In those
few seconds that Thor lost his hammer, Bill immediately notices and picks the hammer up himself and immediately for some strange reason Mjolnir deemed Bill
worthy of the hammer giving him the power of Thor.
Odin senses this change and transports both Bill and Thor to Asgard, Bill demands that he keeps the hammer because he beat Thor. Odin declares the battle unfair because Thor had limitations, so he temporarily gives Thor his powers back as well as Bill and the two were pitted to a battle to the death in the realm of Skartheim, a lava wasteland. The two titans collide in a long and grueling battle; both heroes succumb to exhaustion and collapse. Although both fighters had fainted, Bill awoke first due to his races ability to sustain warm climates. He refuses to take Thor’s life thus passing Odin’s final test.
Odin then creates a new hammer “Stormbreaker” a hammer that was imbued with all the powers that Mjolnir contained. Thor and Bill became friends and they returned to help protect Bill’s people from the armies of Surtur. Although Thor was called back to Asgard before the Korbinites were safe from Surtur and his minions, Sif stayed with Bill to continue the fight because she was curious about him. It was the time she stayed in battle that Sif learned from Skuttlebutt (The Korbinites ship) the extremely painful and difficult trails Bill went through to become the guardian of his people and the only survivor of the procedure.
Although the first appearance is a must read when getting
to know Beta Ray Bill, there are a couple of good books to read. Probably one of my favorites has to be the Thor
Secret Invasion tie-in. In this
miniseries tie-in Bill was drawn from the Realm of the Great Beats by the
Skrulls, who capture and torture him in order to replicate his powers for their
Super Skrull warriors. During this time,
Strombreaker was taken from him and it was used by one of the most powerful
super Skrulls known as “Godkiller." Bill, weakend, is cast down to Earth to the
location of new Asgard. Bill brings with
him a warning from the Skrull Army and their impeding invasion.
The Asgardians then mend up Bill, and prepare themselves for the invasion that was about to come. Thor seeing that not only was Asgard in danger but the neighboring town of Broxton as well reverts back to Donald Blake and gives his hammer to Bill. Bill along with Baldur defends Asgard valiantly but Bill is overtaken by Godkiller only to be saved by Thor. Together they fight side by side to defeat Godkiller and save Asgard from the invasion. One of my favorite panels in the book has to be when Bill sees Strombreaker broken in two and he gets angry. His anger is so great that he mounts an impressive offense on the Godkiller with every swing of the mighty hammer you can read Bill saying “FALL!” “FALL!” “FALL!”; one of my favorite Beta Ray Bill moments of all time.
Although his appearance in the Secret Invasion was a minor one, it was a memorable one for this eager Thor reader because it showcased the power that Bill can wield when given either Stormbreaker or Mjolnir. Other books that you can try and pick up that define very well Bill are Stormbreaker, Godhunter and Green Eden. There you have it, a basic breakdown of one of the Thor Universe's best supporting characters. If you have any comments or you just want to chime in with your favorite Thor character visit our forums.