When thinking about how to describe Daniel Warren Johnson's work, I always think back to the following excerpt from Donny Cates' introduction to this trade:
"It's a delicate balance of over-the-top action set pieces and, almost seamlessly nestled within and around them, the quietest, most gentle of character moments. Doom Metal sludging through an opera house. A valentine wrapped in napalm."
Those last two sentences, and the imagery he uses, felt so immediately visceral to me, and I thought so eloquently summed up DWJ's work.
He is a creator that I'd heard so many fantastic things about, and I had been meaning to read his work for what feels like a long while, so I was so excited to read this when I did earlier in the year. Not long after I read this the phenomenal Do a Powerbomb would start, which brought me ever closer to his fantastic work. I left reviews for each issue of that series on here if you want to check them out, but I digress.
What Cates was saying about DWJ's work is shown right from the start. It's a very dramatic, action packed first issue tying into King in Black, that amazingly also manages to kick off an exciting, and intensely personal and introspective story for the character of Beta Ray Bill.
I remember reading that first Thor arc by Cates and Nic Klein, and the dynamic between Thor and Bill here, so it was nice to finally read the follow-up on that from Bill's perspective.
I had read almost nothing with Beta Ray Bill before this, but not only was it easy to understand and follow in that sense, (having read that Thor arc I'm sure helped but from what I remember I don't think it's necessary) it also made me care about him on a deeply personal level in such a powerful way.
Since I don't have that much of a connection with the character apart from this though, it means I don't have much else to say about it. But I'll leave with some final closing thoughts.
The characters were all so entertaining, all the dynamics and interactions were well thought-out, and that was a really fun aspect of the book.
The detail in the artwork always astounds me, and I apologise to Mike Spicer for not having mentioned his colors yet, but just incredible work as well. Manages to so effectively enrich and enhance DWJ's artwork without losing any of the detail, it only adds to it and makes it so, so special. I'm so excited to read more of their artwork together, because in this and Do a Powerbomb it's been such a delightful treat to experience.
Joe Sabino did a great job on the lettering. It manages to bring the whole book together into a cohesive reading experience, with nice, smooth and effective speech and sound effect placement.
Finally, one last comment about the artwork because I can't mention it too many times in this review. To bring it full circle, it always astounds me when I realise how much this book can absolutely nail the balance of feeling like an epic, cinematic blockbuster that's so deeply and emotionally heartfelt.
It really is something special, and I'd definitely recommend checking it out if you haven't already.
You can also find his podcast on Twitter @JoeTalksComics, which you can listen to through Anchor, where you can find links to the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Spotify, or you can click those hyperlinks directly.