Keanu Reeves' BRZRKR is Comic Book Casserole
Keanu Reeves makes his comic writing debut via Kickstarter campaign, teaming up with a formidable and established crew of hard-hitting talent in the industry; co-writer Matt Kindt (Justice League of America), artist Ron Garney (Wolverine), and colorist Bill Crabtree (BPRD). Crabtree specifically shines in BRZRKR with his rapid changing scenes of warm to cool tone panels which lent an exciting and fast-paced atmosphere to the art, which matched the flow of the writing.
My esteemed and eloquent colleague Rich Johnston did an astute first look review exactly one month ago, and BRZRKR to rise to the occasion and bring something new to the comic book medium. What Rich foresaw about this comic was accurate; it opens with a "beefed-up Keanu" murdering his way through the entire issue in a murderous cliché.
Perhaps the most interesting thing that this comic does is it brings a sense of mystery two its titular character in the sense that you have absolutely no idea who he is or where he came from. Poetically, what Rob Garney brings to this issue makes the tie into what we've seen in the past with Wolverine work for BRSRKR. This issue steps away from these sorts of similarities by exploring why this unstoppable man is working with the government in the first place; that is, he allows them to study his rampages so they can finally figure out a way to kill him once and for all. This self-destruction is laid on heavy-handedly throughout the issue, but with the lack of dialogue throughout the comic, the consistent scenes of ultra-violence work well (the beating a man to death with his own severed arm was a fun touch).
Ultimately, BRZRKR ends up reading like the ultimate fan service for devotees of Keanu Reeves and the larger-than-life roles that have defined his career both on and off the big screen. Scenes where a "sad Keanu" sits on a bench in the rain to him leaping out of an airplane sans parachute, are all callbacks to the famous actor's history. Considering the more enjoyable panels from this comic are things we've seen in these creator's other works, it was a fun hodgepodge of storyline casserole- that is, lots of leftovers but not really anything there to stand on its own two feet yet.
In the end, readers wanting to see something new should probably pass up BRZRKR as it does take the same regurgitated movie tropes and slap them onto the pages of a comic book (but this time with a Keanu flare). It won't be the worst investment either, as it is only a 12 issue mini-series and does have the potential to really expand on the more buried themes of memory loss, PTSD, and even the eventual fun-filled road of self-discovery. It even hints at some more macabre elements of history being explored as well, like the black death and the dawn of civilization. Most likely, this comic will be praised by fans of Keanu Reeves and receive indifferent shoulder shrugs and a half-hearted "meh" from the rest.