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Review: BRZRKR #1

BRZRKR #1

“Wake the fuck up, samurai. We have a city to burn.”- Cyberpunk 2077

Legendary actor/the Internet’s boyfriend Keanu Reeves teams up with co-writer Matt Kindt, artist Ron Garney, and colorist Bill Crabtree for BRZRKR #1. The premise is simple: a possibly divine immortal is fighting and killing for the United on various black ops missions for the opportunity to become mortal. As shown in this first issue, Berzerker is a single-minded killer, who will stab someone to death with their own bones or get blown up to finish a mission. However, BRZRKR #1 also shows he may have a shred of humanity beneath all the grisly violence and terse dialogue, and it’s the series’ biggest wild card as well as its hook along with the slow unveiling of Berzerker’s past, who is more Christian Walker than Wolverine. He’s no cop or hero though.

From Berzerker’s speech patterns to the way he carries himself as a character and also the deep levels of grief he hides behind a stoic demeanor, BRZKR #1 definitely seems like a comic that could turn into a Keanu Reeves acting role down the road. However, future brand synergy and questionable use of Kickstarter aside, this comic doesn’t come across as an illustrated movie script thanks to Reeves, Kindt, and especially artist Garney’s use of what makes the medium unique. The team marries show and tell nicely in the first 30 pages of the comic with Keanu Reeves and Matt Kindt’s narration fleshing out Berzerker’s attitude and motivation while Ron Garney and Bill Crabtree’s visuals establish him as a nearly unstoppable force of violence. They show his disconnection from humanity in other ways like how he never directly addresses the soldiers he’s with, leaps into action ahead of them, and never really acknowledges anyone until we see him with the doctor towards the end of the comic, who is trying to bring him back to reality while making sure the U.S. will still have his services.

Ron Garney, who is coming off tremendous runs on Daredevil and Juggernaut, finds a happy medium between Frank Miller’s work on Sin City and Geof Darrow’s general, violent mayhem. Perhaps, BRZKR is Hard Boiled 2021. Garney’s iconic poses and uses of silhouette, shadow, and vertical panels are straight from Miller’s best work while his detailed approach to violence is very Darrow-esque although he goes for cartooning over hyper detail. Like both storytellers, he lets the opening setpiece breathe, which gives this comic a “day in the life” feel while also showing many opportunities for Berzerker to kill the dictator’s goons in increasingly creative ways. This is while the real enemy aka the U.S. government is skulking in the corners and using his DNA to build a non-white-helmeted clone army. As well as letting the fight scenes breathe, Reeves, Kindt, and Garney let the scenes in the government lab last for a few extra pages and also be part of the book’s only double page spread to show how Berzerker’s employer controls him so much.

Bill Crabtree’s colors help up the creepiness quotient of the lab scenes in BRZRKR #1 that are slightly reminiscent of Barry Windsor-Smith’s “Weapon X” storyline. He uses lots of greys and blues to show how lifeless and invasive Berzerker’s surroundings are in contrast with the earthier palette he uses for the fight scenes (Plus red for the really violent bits.) and a big time flashback. This is especially effective when Berzerker has a moment of hesitation and doesn’t kill a young man watching him brutally assassinate the president of an unnamed Latin American country that the United States is starting a coup in. Crabtree transitions from the scarlet of battle to the blue of mercy, and this pattern recurs when Berzerker chats with his doctor on-panel towards the end of the comic in a sequence that really adds to his character and provides additional layers beyond being a killer with a dry sense of humor.

There are several comics (The Old Guard, Heavy, almost every Wolverine book) dealing with the themes of immortality, violence, and hopefully becoming mortal one day. However, none of them will likely be adapted into a film starring Keanu Reeves as a star eyed, shaggy haired warrior, who will jump out of windows into humvees, take gunfire on his chest, and a bullet to the head just to have a slight shot at remembering his past and being able to die one day. And none of them were co-written by Reeves, who with Kindt, gives Berzerker the laconic, world-worn voice that matches the carnage he’s covered in and dishes out as depicted by Ron Garney, who channels his inner warrior poet with an action sequence longer than most comics with the help of colorist Bill Crabtree, whose palette conveys rage and just a small slice of hope. All of this is to say is that BRZRKR #1 is worth checking out if you like breathtaking fight choreography and layouts with an eye for detail with a protagonist, who is a total badass, but needs a hug and not to be treated like a lab rat or go on another mission in service of American imperialism.

Story: Keanu Reeves and Matt Kindt Art: Ron Garney
Colors: Bill Crabtree Letters: Clem Robins
Story: 7.5 Art: 9.0 Overall: 8.3 Recommendation: Buy

BOOM! Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Mike Mignola, Chris Roberson and Leila del Duca Invite You to The House of Lost Horizons

This year, legendary Hellboy creator Mike Mignola, bestselling co-writer Chris Roberson, artist Leila del Duca, letterer Clem Robins, colorist Michelle Madsen, and cover artist Christopher Mitten are inviting readers to The House of Lost Horizons. In this four-issue series from Dark Horse Comics, a locked-room murder mystery puzzles paranormal detective Sarah Jewell and her associate Marie Therése when a weekend trip to a private island off the coast of Washington goes awry. Trapped by a storm and surrounded by myriad suspects who have gathered for an auction of occult items, the intrepid duo must unravel the supernatural mysteries surrounding the guests in the hopes of uncovering the murderer. But all the while bodies keep piling up, and at any moment Sarah or Marie Therése could be next….

The House of Lost Horizons will debut from Dark Horse Comics in comic stores on May 12, 2021, retailing for $3.99.

THE HOUSE OF LOST HORIZONS

Review: Young Hellboy: The Hidden Land #1

Young Hellboy: The Hidden Land #1

I love pulp adventures and stories. There’s a fun aspect to them where you accept the over-the-top sequences and enjoy it all. Young Hellboy: The Hidden Land #1 kicks off a “lost tale” of a young Hellboy infused with the over-the-top nature of those types of stories.

On their way to South America, Hellboy and Professor Bruttenholm are stranded on a strange island after their plane crashes. The mysterious island is full of the crazy experiences and dangers you’d expect. From giant crabs to attacking gorillas, Hellboy and Bruttenholm must figure out where they are and how to survive.

With a story by Mike Mignola and Thomas Sniegoski, Young Hellboy: The Hidden Land #1 is a solid read that you can just pick up and enjoy. It bathes itself in the moments you’d expect from this type of story. It takes its inspiration from the old reels and films full of adventure. It’s the type of story where the action is the focus and the “what” isn’t quite the focus at all. You just roll with what’s thrown at you and enjoy the ride.

Mignola and Sniegoski fills the issue with enthusiasm with a young Hellboy that’s full of excitement. Like a kid of that age, he wants to know what’s going on with glee. A lot of the fun comes from that aspect and it brings a bit of youthful energy to the comic.

Craig Rousseau‘s art is great. Dave Stewart provides colors with lettering by Clem Robins. Much like the story itself, the visuals feel a bit over the top. Things feel exaggerated in a good way adding to the fun aspect of it all. Hellboy comics can fall into the horror genre in both stories and visuals but this issue brings a bit of the lighter side of things.

Young Hellboy: The Hidden Land #1 is an entertaining comic. It’s one you can just pick up and enjoy without having to know anything about the world or character. It shares a lot of its DNA with adventures like Flash Gordon, Indiana Jones, and Tarzan. There’s an aspect where it doesn’t take itself too seriously and knows exactly what it wants to be and that’s a lot of fun.

Story: Mike Mignola, Thomas Sniegoski Art: Craig Rousseau
Color: Dave Stewart Letterer: Clem Robins
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

Dark Horse provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus ComicsTFAW

Don’t Miss BRZRKR #1 in February. Keanu Reeves explains how to pre-order

Don’t miss the highly anticipated BRZRKR #1, the premiere issue of the twelve-issue limited series from the iconic Keanu Reeves in his Must Read comic book writing debut alongside New York Times bestselling co-writer Matt Kindt, acclaimed artist Ron Garney, colorist Bill Crabtree, and letterer Clem Robins, available on February 24, 2021.

The man known only as B. is half-mortal and half-god, cursed and compelled to violence…even at the sacrifice of his sanity.  But after wandering the world for centuries, B. may have finally found a refuge – working for the U.S. government to fight the battles too violent and too dangerous for anyone else. In exchange, B. will be granted the one thing he desires – the truth about his endless blood-soaked existence…and how to end it.

BRZRKR #1 features main cover art by superstar illustrator Rafael Grampá and variant cover art by superstar artists Mark Brooks, Lee Bermejo, and Dan Mora, as well as the 1-in-1000 signed edition variant cover with art by Jonboy Meyers, and more.

BOOM! Reveals Dan Mora’s BRZRKER #1 Cover

BOOM! Studios has revealed a brand new variant cover art for the highly anticipated BRZRKR #1, by award-winning artist Dan Mora. The limited-edition variant cover will be made available to comic book stores as an undressed edition featuring only the cover art as a 1-in-200 incentive. BRZRKR is a twelve-issue limited series by the iconic Keanu Reeves and New York Times bestselling co-writer Matt Kindt, acclaimed artist Ron Garney, colorist Bill Crabtree, and letterer Clem Robins, about an immortal being’s eternal struggle with the hidden truth behind his existence, available in comic book stores worldwide on February 24, 2021.

The man known only as B. is half-mortal and half-god, cursed and compelled to violence…even at the sacrifice of his sanity.  But after wandering the world for centuries, B. may have finally found a refuge – working for the U.S. government to fight the battles too violent and too dangerous for anyone else. In exchange, B. will be granted the one thing he desires – the truth about his endless blood-soaked existence…and how to end it.

BRZRKR #1 features main cover art by superstar illustrator Rafael Grampá and variant cover art by superstar artists Mark Brooks, Lee Bermejo, and Mora, as well as a 1-in-1000 variant cover with art by Jonboy Meyers and signed by Keanu Reeves, and more.

BRZRKR #1 Dan Mora cover

Lee Bermejo Covers BRZRKR #1

BOOM! Studios has revealed brand new variant cover art for the highly anticipated BRZRKR #1, by Lee Bermejo. The limited-edition variant cover will be made available to comic book stores as a 1-in-25 incentive. Additionally, an undressed edition featuring only the cover art will be offered as a 1-in-100 incentive. BRZRKR is a twelve-issue limited series by the iconic Keanu Reeves and New York Times bestselling co-writer Matt Kindt, acclaimed artist Ron Garney, colorist Bill Crabtree, and letterer Clem Robins, about an immortal being’s eternal struggle with the hidden truth behind his existence, available in comic book stores worldwide on February 24, 2021.

The man known only as B. is half-mortal and half-god, cursed and compelled to violence…even at the sacrifice of his sanity.  But after wandering the world for centuries, B. may have finally found a refuge – working for the U.S. government to fight the battles too violent and too dangerous for anyone else. In exchange, B. will be granted the one thing he desires – the truth about his endless blood-soaked existence…and how to end it.

BRZRKR #1 features main cover art by superstar illustrator Rafael Grampá and variant cover art by superstar artists Mark Brooks, Dan Mora, and Bermejo, as well as a 1-in-1000 variant cover with art by Jonboy Meyers and signed by Keanu Reeves, and more.

BRZRKR #1 variant by Lee Bermejo

Review: Batman: Black & White #1

Batman: Black & White #1

Anthology series are always something I enjoy to read in comics. In a comic, you get varied voices and styles, getting to see what creators you might not read would do with characters. It’s also a chance to see what different creators would do in the same sandbox. That often results in a lot of variation showing how versatile comics and their characters can be. Batman: Black & White #1 kicks off a new series with one hell of a start.

Batman: Black & White #1 is one of the best anthologies I’ve read in some time. While the stories are varied and interesting, this debut issue’s art is what really stands out. There’s a common theme, beyond Batman, of artists breaking the mold delivering visuals that “break the page”.

With five stories, Batman: Black & White #1 gives us variation not just in styles but the perspectives and subjects. There’s some “traditional” Batman focused stories but others come from different perspectives. The opening for example is told from the perspective of a member of the League of Assassins.

Each story is entertaining in their own way. They are varied in pacing, tone, and focus, keeping things interesting. Some keep things more traditional in the narrative while others are presented in a more poetic style. The dialogue and types of stories alone are worth picking up the issue. But, it’s the art that really stands out in this issue.

The styles of art vary but they all have one thing in common. Each story breaks traditional page layouts and panels. The opening story uses Batman’s cape to break up the sequences, another is laid out like poem flowing across the page. Another story uses the pearls of Bruce Wayne’s mother to break up the page. In an amazing visual, art from throughout the years is laid out on page like a collage of Batman’s history. You’ll linger on every page in awe as to what’s been laid out. Every inch of the page is used and used well. Only one of the stories comes close to expected page layouts and even then, that tale delivers a lot for Batman fans in the background.

All of that is delivered in black and white.

Batman: Black & White #1 is a hell of a start to the series. It had me lingering on pages in awe of what was before me and wanting more. It shows off some amazing art and will have you longing for more of this and fewer boxes on the page. This is a fantastic issue for Batman fans and fans of beautiful art. It also creates a high bar for future issues to reach.

Story: James Tynion IV, J.H. Williams III, G. Willow Wilson, Emma Rios, Paul Dini
Art: Tradd Moore, J.H. Williams III, Greg Smallwood, Emma Rios, Andy Kubert, Dexter Soy
Letterer: Clayton Cowles, Todd Klein, Clem Robins, Steve Wands, Rob Leigh
Story 8.45 Art: 10 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Review: Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: The Seven Wives Club

Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: The Seven Wives Club

A one-shot story, Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: The Seven Wives Club feels like an afternoon matinee. You can grab your popcorn, relax and enjoy the story. There’s no need to think too much, it’s a simple ghost tale featuring Hellboy and his partner.

Writer Mike Mignola teams with artist Adam Hughes for a comic that honestly feels almost too short. The setup is great and the resolution fun but the comic feels like it’s missing a middle act. It just kind of “is” with a simple premise. There’s not much of a mystery or extension of the setup at all. It just delivers some ghostbusting fun mixed with solid art. And with that I both enjoyed and disliked the issue.

The comic revolves around a young woman arrested for the murder of her boyfriend. She claims it was due to the ghost of a man who murdered his seven mistresses. That ghost tale spins out into occult mystery and then the resolution. It’s that occult mystery to resolution that’s the problem.

Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: The Seven Wives Club features an excellent setup and hook. It’s an interesting concept and could have gone in numerous directions. But, after the ball is laid up, the comic takes a quick and easy way out. It could easily have been double the length or an original graphic novel and with the extra space most likely a much stronger story.

Once inside the mysterious ghost house, it’s straight to the resolution. There are no challenges. There’s no scares. It’s pretty much the endgame at that point. Even if the scares would have been cheap or loosely tied in, they’d have added some more action. They could have also been used to make it harder for the B.P.R.D. to get to the final boss battle. As is, that’s what the comic feels like, a shop keeper setting up the story and then skipping to the boss battle.

Hughes’ art is fantastic. The art is dynamic and when the battle begins, it’s beautiful to look at. The coloring pops, the action explodes, it feels like a “pulp” adventure in a good way. Clem Robins‘ lettering adds to the fun, especially during the boss battle. “Boom” never looked so good. It’s weird to say, but the lettering added to the fun aspect of the comic.

Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: The Seven Wives Club isn’t all that deep and a bit too quick of a read. It misses a middle act but there’s also something fun about it. If you want a comic you can pick up and enjoy without knowing and backstory, this is one to check out. But, it also feels like a comic that deserves and needs an expanded edition with a bit more of a challenge and more scares, if nothing else to see more of Hughes’ Hellboy art and Robins’ lettering.

Story: Mike Mignola Art: Adam Hughes Letterer: Clem Robins
Story: 7.0 Art: 8.75 Overall: 7.1 Recommendation: Read

Dark Horse Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Explore an Untold Chapter of Hellboy’s Childhood with Young Hellboy: The Hidden Land

In 2021, Hellboy creator Mike Mignola, co-writer Tom Sniegoski, artist Craig Rousseau, colorist Dave Stewart, and letterer Clem Robins will explore an untold chapter of Hellboy’s childhood in Young Hellboy: The Hidden Land. In this four-issue series from Dark Horse Comics, Hellboy and Professor Bruttenholm are stranded on a strange island after a mishap on their way to a South American dig site. They soon find themselves confronted by all manner of monsters, and even when the stranger who rescues them turns out to be one of Hellboy’s heroes, they aren’t as safe as they think they are. The four-issue mini-series features covers by Folklords artist Matt Smith. Mignola and award-winning colorist Dave Stewart provide the variant cover for the debut issue, with subsequent issues featuring variant covers by Rachele Aragno (#2), Wylie Beckert (#3), and Anthony Carpenter (#4).

Young Hellboy: The Hidden Land will debut from Dark Horse Comics in comic stores on February 17, 2021, retailing for $3.99.

BOOM! Kicks Keanu Reeves, Matt Kindt, and Ron Garney’s BRZRKR to Kickstarter

As part of a campaign to bring new readers to comics BOOM! Studios has announced that BRZRKR, the new series from the iconic Keanu Reeves alongside New York Times bestselling co-writer Matt Kindt, superstar artist Ron Garney, colorist Bill Crabtree, and letterer Clem Robins, will be offered in complete graphic novel sets through Kickstarter. The full campaign can be found here at Kickstarter.

Fans will have an opportunity to pre-order all three graphic novel collections of the new series in regular, limited edition and ultra-rare, premium formats through October 1 at 12:00 pm PDT. BRZRKRgraphic novel collections offered through Kickstarter will begin shipping alongside the book market release of BRZRKR Vol.1 in September 2021, with subsequent volumes shipping at the same time as their book market counterparts (unless otherwise noted for later delivery).

The move by BOOM! signals Kickstarter’s continued shift from a crowdfunding platform to a distribution platform. This shifts the site to another socially driven distribution channel. In the announcement, it’s clear that the publisher is working directly with Kickstarter’s Head of Publishing and Comics, Margot Atwell. Kickstarter has been criticized over the years that their platform is no longer for “new projects in need of funding” and instead has shifted to be a pre-order system for product already being released. Kickstarter has in the past pushed back at this claim but with this project, all pretenses are gone.

In this brutally violent new series, the man known only as Berzerker is half-mortal and half-God, cursed and compelled to violence…even at the sacrifice of his sanity.  But after wandering the world for centuries, Berzerker may have finally found a refuge – working for the U.S. government to fight the battles too violent and too dangerous for anyone else. In exchange, Berzerker will be granted the one thing he desires – the truth about his endless blood-soaked existence…and how to end it.

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