Keanu Reeves has been seeing something of a renaissance as of late as critics have reassessed his work, and now he’s hitting the comics with BRZRKR.
Keanu reeves is making his comic debut with the release of BOOM! Studies BRZRKR # 1 and the result is somewhere between the ultraviolence of Wolverine and the methodical action of John Wick. Given Reeves’ recent critical reassessment as an actor and the huge success of the John Wick franchise, it makes sense to BOOM! to take advantage of that with a comic. While some may be wary of any comic that advertises itself on the back of a great actor, even the most ardent skeptics should give BRZRKR a read because the result is much more than a vanity project.
The comic written by Reeves and Matt Kindt with art by Ron Garney centers on a man known only as Berzerker. Berzerker is an immortal warrior who works with the US military and has vowed to find a way to help him restore his mortality. In return, Berzerker is tasked with living up to his name. Though formidable in his own right, Berzerker’s immortality makes him a ruthless killing machine capable of dealing with countless gunshot wounds if it means hitting and finishing his target.
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The premise will be familiar to comic book fans. As Berzerker makes his way through countless men, it’s easy to see him as something of a cross between Wolverine and Vandal Savage. However, what distinguishes the book from more conventional comics with a similar premise is the pure scale of BRZRKR’s brutality. Although the character begins this first issue with a pistol, it is obvious that Berzerker’s weapon of choice is his own two hands. Fans of Mortal Kombat You’ll feel right at home as the eponymous hero rips hearts out of the chest, slams jaws, and smashes heads. Yet somehow, the damage done to Berzerker manages to be as heartbreaking as the man is riddled with bullets and literally set on fire. It goes without saying that readers with a weak stomach may have a hard time doing so.
Although this first issue is primarily focused on action, there are indications that Reeves and Kindt have more than violence on their minds. Berzerker’s conversation with the doctor who works to uncover the mysteries of his immortality adds a sense of tragedy to the titular hero. For most, he is an inhuman monster, but his dialogue alludes to a life so full of violence that he has become insensitive to it. At the end of the first issue, readers will wonder if Berzerker really believes he is a monster like everyone thinks he is, or if he is a facade. The best a first issue like this can do is introduce questions that will make readers want to read for more than just action, and BRZRKRThe writing duo have been more than successful at that.
No review of BRZRKR it would be complete without a special mention to artist Ron Garney. It is not an understatement to say that Garney’s art makes violence look like poetry. Every hit feels shocking, every shot explosive. While it’s tempting to call the action cinematic, it’s not entirely correct. Garney is a veteran comic book artist and is shown here when he uses the unique strengths of the medium to achieve visceral effect.
The defining keyword BRZRKR is the momentum. From the first page to the end of his mission, the hero of the book never stops moving forward. The result is a comic that is absolutely exciting to read from cover to cover. Readers can only hope that Keanu reeves Y BOOM! Studies keep the momentum going with future editions of BRZRKR.
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