We’re all probably familiar with some version of the story of an immortal warrior fighting across the ages. With BRZRKR, that story is given a fresh twist—what if the immortal warrior was Keanu Reeves?
Okay, to be fair, it’s not actually Keanu Reeves. It just looks exactly like him—and was created by him. BRZRKR opens on the man known only as Unute assisting with a military action in an unnamed country seemingly in South America. As this immortal tears through enemy soldiers—including killing one man with another man’s rib—the tone of the book quickly becomes clear. In his 80,000 years of life, Unute has served the causes of many warring societies. The United States is simply the next power happy to use him as a weapon. With volume 1, the comic weaves together three central threads. We have Unute’s violent missions around the globe as a black-ops tool of the US military who clearly want to harness his power in any way they can. In between missions, Unute recounts his early life as the defender of his tribe—a gift from unnamed gods who was created with bloodlust and eternal life. And finally we have Diana, the government doctor studying Unute who also promises that she wants to help him achieve his only goal—mortality.
Co-written by Keanu Reeves and Matt Kindt, BRZRKR understands its own relative simplicity. It’s an action story, and rather than overly-complicating the plot, the writers allow Unute plenty of time to punch through people’s heads and rip out their hearts in dramatic fashion. However, amidst the violence, they find a very human core in a man who is not entirely human. After 80,000 years, Unute is tired. He has been tired for a long time. Viewed for his entire life as a tool rather than a person and haunted by the trail of death spread behind him, the man at the center of the story has the ability to fight everything but his own bitter fate. In between missions, it is the grim moments of humanity which ground the story in something more meaningful. Amidst the death, BRZRKR is a story about humanity’s violent quest for power across history, and one man’s flickering desire to be valued as an individual, rather than a weapon, regardless of what he was born to do.
Illustrated by Ron Garney, and with a full palate of matte colors from Bill Crabtree, BRZRKR showcases Unute’s superhuman killing ability in graphic detail. Blood sprays as he tears apart both people and animals with his bare hands. And though he cannot be killed, though he heals quickly, Unute is not immune to damage. He has died before, and as he is called into action again and again, he sustains his own brutal injuries—even if they do quickly fade. For all that the writers shape this story, Garney and Crabtree bring it to life in gruesome detail, capturing the epic scope and violence of Unute’s past, the supernatural origins of his abilities, and the weary man behind those death-filled eyes. Art and writing work together to capture the full depth and each dramatic turn of Unute’s journey across the millennia.
Boom! Studios assigns BRZRKR a mature rating, and the comic confidently earns that designation within the first few pages. Violence is the main reason for the rating, along with brief instances of nudity. The content definitely isn’t for the squeamish, but for any fans of action-adventure stories, military comics with a bit of intrigue, or Keanu Reeves himself, there’s a whole lot here to appreciate. If your readers appreciate titles such as Southern Bastards or The Old Guard, this is definitely a worthy addition to your collection. BRZRKR begins with plenty of familiar elements, but with a strong creative team and a confidence in its own story, the comic manages to feel fresh, building a meaningful narrative at the center of all the action. Keanu Reeves isn’t just cashing in on his star power here. He, along with Kindt and the others, have delivered the opening sequence of a saga that promises plenty of thrills still to come. I, for one, look forward to seeing what this team has in store next.
BRZRKR, Vol. 1
By Keanu Reeves, Matt Kindt
Art by Ron Garney
BOOM! Studios, 2021
Publisher Age Rating: M
NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+)