BRZRKR is a wild action adventure from BOOM! Studios where the main character’s gift of living forever is used by the U.S. Government to tackle its most dangerous missions. BRZRKR Volume 1 is created by Keanu Reeves and co-written with Matt Kindt, drawn by Ron Garney, colored by Bill Crabtree, and lettered by Clem Robins.
The idea of creating BRZRKR and its lead character “B,” also known as Unute, came from Reeves’ initial thought of making a role for an action film. Reeves explained earlier this year, “I was originally thinking of it as a movie character, but then I went to a meeting with the folks at Boom Studios. I grew up reading comics and loving comics, and they were also looking to develop live-action stuff. So they asked me if I had anything going on. I told them this story, and then they said, ‘oh okay, well, did you ever think of it being a comic book?'”
B, resembling a bearded Keanu Reeves, enters the comic book world with glowing blue eyes, while surrounded by an elite special forces squad in a helicopter. Not only does the main character seem disheveled in his attempts to get ready for what lies ahead, his interest in following any types of orders is made abundantly clear from the start, as he jumps from the helicopter during flight.
This seemingly rough and ready fighter does more than survive long drops from a helicopter, his affinity for gruesome fisticuffs is second-to-none. All the while during this mission, there’s a quick understanding of what kind of damage he can take. Bullets and grenade blasts wound B, but there isn’t any stop in his persistent push forward as he aims to complete his mission objective.
BRZRKR has a main character who breaks through many physical barriers, like windshields or airplanes, devastating enemies with catastrophically fatal injuries, all while lingering on the question of whether or not he wants to live. Living through 80,000 years might seem like a glorious existence for a god, or someone like B who appears to be immortal, but it’s clear that not everything is what it seems. When life only represents the desire for these cataclysmic impulses for physical violence, the natural simplicity of having the ability to die brings about a pure notion of the character’s lonely existence.
BRZRKR’s Overwhelming Sense of Isolation screams even louder than its Violence
Keanu Reeves and Matt Kindt have created an extremely violent tale where its main character does so much more than fight. With many of the panels filled with horrific death scenes, there is a limited window into the main character’s state of mind. In the opening sequences, you gather that B is communicating with someone in the background, reliving the day’s actual events, which provide a surreal quality to the overall visual sequences playing out from page-to-page.
There’s a clinical sense to the dialogue, as if a concerned friend or psychologist is dictating the direction of the conversation. It presents the reader with a true sense of what it’s like to be our protagonist, while not being able to fully grasp the loneliness associated with B’s existence. BRZRKR creates its main character from the depths of his mother’s prayers to the gods long ago, hoping for any answer to save her ancient village from yearly attacks from neighboring tribes. His attempt to remember and understand his earliest days might be the key to him finding salvation, and finally figuring out a way to die.
BRZRKR does much more than present a stylish way of smashing one’s face, like a hammer meets putty, there’s an unknown sincerity behind B’s desire to discover a mortal life. The life he’s lived has been long, and despite his ability to remember almost every single moment, it’s his earliest days that are still out of reach. The relationships he’s formed from birth, including the one with his doctor, reveal an uncertainty in the motivations of everyone associated with his life. Are they to be trusted or do they only want to use him for their own purposes?
BRZRKR’s Art brings Epic Loneliness along for the ride with its Devastating Violence
Garney and Crabtree’s artwork bring about a violent character where the impossible is possible and reconstruction of a destroyed body is part of the job. Explosive sequences are highlighted with reddish backgrounds, while subdued conversations gravitate toward bluish tones. The back and forth between our main character’s history and psychological analysis gives you enough knowledge to know that B’s life has been anything but normal.
The design of the comic book leads to this extension of the character’s isolated existence. Every inch of real estate is utilized in a completely different manner. Whether it be fight sequences, seeing our main character preparing to fight or talk about his prior life, various sized panels are placed unevenly throughout. This structure of the comic book leaves empty black spaces that surround its panels, furthering the isolated feel that lingers around our main character.
The artwork for BRZRKR adds a stoic quality surrounding our long-lived protagonist, leaning into close-up, intense gazes or shadowy expressions. These key elements help to balance out the fight sequences, allowing for all of the uncertainty surrounding the “berserker” to take hold. He has lived for thousands and thousands of years, and the unrelenting physical violence laid waste to those in front of his path complicate a simple point many people in real life try to tackle; “who am I?” Despite his mysterious and ancient existence, his ferocious impulses are front and center as the artists don’t shy away from leaving the brain fragments of B’s enemies speckled on his fists.
BRZRKR also doesn’t shy away from the notion of “shoot first and ask questions later.” Mostly, there isn’t anyone alive to ask anything, and this ultra-violent swing towards the main character’s entire backstory means that B has been living a singular way of life for a very long time. From crushed faces, severed limbs, and powerful swings that cut bodies in half, this story is driven by menacing acts of bloody gore, while depicting a character who is equally exhausted with the daily effort of being a country’s hitman.
BRZRKR is perfect for Sin City and Tokyo Ghost fans
Keanu Reeves and Matt Kindt have created a story where an overwhelming sense of seclusion is felt from a character whose primary objective is to cause death and destruction. Despite these violent tendencies, it’s an unwanted trait that seems unavoidable. B is the product of a godly request, but until his past is fully uncovered, he will never have a life where death is an attainable goal.
BRZRKR, and B specifically, is meant for fans of Marv from Sin City and Dent from Tokyo Ghost. It’s a story of a seemingly indestructible character, and you’re waiting for the shoe to drop. Is there an end to the berserker’s destructive nature or his life? That’s the beauty of this first volume, as a massively violent character is humanized, as we wonder if there’s more to his life than jaw shattering punches.
The end of BRZRKR Volume 1 creates an idea, which permeates throughout, that the berserker’s existence has the ability to be much more than his brutal history has led us to believe. Is there more to come that doesn’t make every other character fear for their lives with each passing glance? Will there be a way to absolve such a violent past with a better understanding of what his purpose might be in the future? The creators of this story have given us a devastatingly impactful start and there isn’t any way to imagine what happens next until they craft it for us.
Grab a copy of BRZRKR and get ready to ask for more, because that’s where it leads you; desolate souls are meant to be found, and the first volume makes you care about one person who has been lost for many ages.
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