Written by: Keanu Reeves and Matt Kindt, Illustrations by: Ron Garney, Colours by: Bill Crabtree.
Present day, a lonely man sits contemplating life. He is quickly drafted into a conflict by some soldiers. He does things no normal man can do, he is brutal, he is unforgiving, and he gets the job done. A man with those skills could be useful to the government. Although he wishes for something else, something that has eluded him. The army have made him a promise, one that can deliver that one very big wish for him...to be mortal, however a quid pro quo is always warranted.
Now I believe this book started with Boom, who then announced they would create a Kickstarter campaign, which is becoming a more and more popular way to launch a comic series. Giving the rights to the characters to the creators, unlike the Big Two publishers, who retain the properties with likeness. Now for full disclosure, I did pledge to this project, so I will be fair, but I may have my biases when talking about this series.
So to just give some more backstory, this comic become the highest-selling comic in Kickstarter (I didn’t get an email a few months ago saying this, although I now can’t find it). To add to that accolade, at time of writing this article, it has sold over 615,000 copies so far in its print run. To put this in perspective, the highest-selling comic book currently in regards to units is Star Wars by Marvel in Jan 2015 at 985,976 copies, which includes all variants. So for an independent book to be hitting those numbers is a great achievement.
Now for the book itself, there’s very little to say about the writing. It’s very limited in the information that it gives or the development of the characters. The protagonist (modeled after co-writer Keanu Reeves) goes from place to place, beating up many people, just solely being focussed on his mission of becoming mortal. The book raises more questions than it answers, which is completely deliberate. We are going through the journey of finding out about him and his life as he does. He unlocks memories as he does jobs, and tries to piece together what he can. So from a narrative perspective, it makes sense for us to not know much. This works to the books advantage as it means we are as lost as the protagonist, keeping us on an edge of who we can trust, if anyone at all. This continues through the limited interactions up until the “shock” ending which reveals how long he’s been alive.
The artwork is what can both make and break someone’s interest with this book so far. The characters look good, the scenery looks ok, if not a little generic as it could quite possibly take place anywhere. That stuff is all background to the violence. I compare this to John Wick, even that wasn’t as bloody and violent as this book. For people who like action but not a fan of heads exploding, stay away from this book, as that kind of thing is tame compared to what is actually portrayed. I am someone who’s not upset or offended by violence, but when it comes to a book like this, I’m hoping it is going to lead us somewhere. This character is immortal and has been alive for so long that he doesn’t care about human life, or wants to push ideas of violence to the boundary to see at what point people may step in. I’m hoping for that kind of character development for him rather than violence for the sake of it.
Despite that I still think it looks cool. The imaginative ways in which he dispatched of people could lead to comedic points for the book. The other drawback for me is that Ron Garney’s art isn’t as “polished” as I would personally like, a lot of the big 2 books, and even the last Boom book I read (Klaus) the art on these are cleaner, with more defined lines. That is very much a more personal point of view so I wouldn’t expect the artist to change their style.
Overall I highly enjoyed the book. As I stated earlier, if you have a more sensitive stomach, stay away from this book. The image that I chose to portray the violence is the least violent of the book. If however, you enjoy a thrilling action, similar to that of John Wick, then I would suggest you check this out.
Brzrkr issue 1 was released 3rd March from your local comic shop as well as comixology