BRZRKR #1 (2021) by Keanu Reeves, Matt Kindt, Ron Garney

The first issue of Keanu Reeves‘ debut in comic book writing was released today, Wednesday March 3rd, 2021. BRZRKR is co-written by Matt Kindt (Mind MGMT) with art by Ron Garney. The 12-issue limited series has so far raised over $1.8 million on Kickstarter, setting the record for the highest-funded comic book project in the platform’s history.

Synopsis from BOOM! Studios

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. NOTE: This is for Mature Readers.


My Thoughts

I’ve just finished reading this and man, is it violent! Main character John Wick Berzerker is sent on a mission to locate and capture the heavily-guarded president of an unspecified country. He is accompanied by a squad of soldiers. The action kicks off from the sixth page and doesn’t stop for 23 pages, (in a 48-page comic book). It’s one long action scene that hardly gives you time to take a breath until it’s over. After the mission, Berzerker is taken to an “undisclosed US Government facility” and undergoes the start of a lengthy healing process that had me thinking of the first Matrix movie.

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Agency (2020) by William Gibson

‘Very recent hiredness was its own liminal state, Verity reminded herself, on the crowded Montgomery BART platform, waiting for a train to Sixteenth and Mission.’

–William Gibson

These are the opening lines to Agency, Gibson’s twelfth novel. I had to look up the word “liminal” which means “between or belonging to two different places, states, etc.” It is an important word for this novel, as Gibson weaves his narrative back and forth between the “present” of this story and its future. The present is an alternate 2017 in which Hillary Clinton won the election, and the future is some time in the 22nd century.

Synopsis

In William Gibson’s first novel since 2014’s The Peripheral, a gifted “app-whisperer” is hired by a mysterious San Francisco start-up and finds herself in contact with a unique and surprisingly combat-savvy AI.


My Thoughts

I’m in two minds about this book. I initially rated it 3 stars, but I’m tempted to drop my rating down to 2 stars now. (Please note: 3 stars for me is what I consider “average”, 2 stars is “disappointing.”) The longer I think about the story, the more disappointed I feel. It has some cool ideas, but unfortunately they don’t really go anywhere. The plot is pretty basic and the characters mostly forgettable. Thinking back on it, I’m struggling to remember the characters’ names outside of the main character Verity and the A.I. Eunice.

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Once & Future, Vol. 2: Old English (2020) by Kieron Gillen, Dan Mora

“What was in that thing?”
“The usual penny-mix of mystic selection. Plus blessed by a few priests.”
“You talked vicars into blessing a landmine?”

-Kieron Gillen

Clipped from a conversation between Duncan and his grandma Bridgette after their spectacular fight with something huge and powerful in issue #9. Once & Future, Volume Two: Old English collects issues #7 to #12 of the BOOM! Studios comic book.

Synopsis

When an ancient helmet at the British Museum is taken, Bridgette and Duncan are confronted by another hero of yore, one who will lead them to facing off against their most formidable challenge yet…a beast and his mother.


My Thoughts

Kieron Gillen and Dan Mora continue their reinterpretation of the King Arthur myth. In this second volume, they expand on their idea of stories breaking into the real world. Here is a quick recap of the events in Volume One: The King is Undead. Be wary of spoilers.

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Pulp (2020) by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips

“That was one of the problems of getting older. You hit an age where everyone either ignores you, or treats you like some hassle they’re being forced to deal with. But inside, you still feel like the same person you were thirty or forty years ago.”

-Ed Brubaker

A few years ago, my brother introduced me to Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ brilliant crime comic book series Criminal. I quickly became a fan of the series and searched for other works by this creative team. That led me to Kill or Be Killed, a comic book series that explores the experiences of a young vigilante, and also contains a supernatural element. Another great read, I collected all twenty issues of the series. Now, when a new title by Brubaker and Phillips is released, I will usually buy it “sight unseen” because I know it will be of the highest quality.

Publisher’s Synopsis

“Max Winters, a pulp writer in 1930s New York, finds himself drawn into a story not unlike the tales he churns out at 5 cents a word – tales of a Wild West outlaw dispensing justice with a six-gun. But will Max be able to do the same, when pursued by bank robbers, Nazi spies, and enemies from his past?

One part thriller, one part meditation on a life of violence, Pulp is unlike anything the award-winning team of Brubaker and Phillips have ever done. A celebration of pulp fiction, set in a world on the brink. And another must-have hardback from one of comics most-acclaimed teams.”


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Wonder Woman: Dead Earth (2020) by Daniel Warren Johnson

“Come closer, Diana. Put your hands in the clay. This is what you were made from. This core of the Earth, the strongest of what this broken world had to offer, gave way to the mass that makes you what you are now.”

-Daniel Warren Johnson

Publisher’s Synopsis

“Wonder Woman’s mission was to save Man’s World from itself. She failed.

When Diana awakens from a centuries-long sleep to discover the Earth reduced to a nuclear wasteland, she knows she failed. Trapped alone in a grim future, Diana must protect the last human city from titanic monsters while uncovering the secret of this dead Earth–and how she may be responsible for it.

The celebrated creator of Murder Falcon and Extremity and artist of The Ghost Fleet, Daniel Warren Johnson, brings bold sci-fi chops to his DC debut with a harrowing vision of Wonder Woman unlike anything you’ve ever seen.”


My Thoughts

I’d never been interested in reading Wonder Woman comics before this book. It was artist and writer Daniel Warren Johnson that convinced me to buy it. I loved his work on Extremity and Murder Falcon, and found both titles to be an absolute blast to read.

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Coffin Bound, Vol. 1: Happy Ashes (2020) by Dan Watters & DaNi

“I have a plan, Ben. I am expunging myself from the planet. Each mark I’ve made I shall scrub out.”

-Dan Watters

I really enjoyed writer Dan Watters’ recent run on the Vertigo comic book Lucifer. That’s what brought me to Coffin Bound, published by Image Comics. I wanted to read more stories by Watters and this was an original story by him and Greek artist DaNi. What can I say about this book? To make an understatement, I will say it’s pretty unique.

Publisher’s Synopsis

Cars! Guns! Entropy! Izzy Tyburn has promised the world that if it won’t have her in it, it’ll have nothing of her at all. Chased by an unstoppable killer, she’s re-treading her life, leaving nothing behind but burned rubber, ash… and the sun-scorched bones of those who get in her way. Ride shotgun on an existential road-trip through the tangled web of a blood-splattered life.


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Die, Vol.1 (2019) & Vol.2 (2020) by Kieron Gillen & Stephanie Hans

Title: Die
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Art: Stephanie Hans
Series: Die
Format: Kindle Edition
Length: Vol.1, 184 pages; Vol.2, 168 pages
Rating: ★★☆☆☆



Publisher’s Synopsis


Die is a pitch-black fantasy where a group of forty-something adults have to deal with the returning, unearthly horror they only just survived as teenage role-players. If Kieron’s in a rush, he describes it as “Goth Jumanji”, but that’s only the tip of this obsidian iceberg.

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Once & Future, Vol.1 (2020) by Kieron Gillen & Dan Mora

“Plenty of things that are real are nonsense, love. Most things, even.”

I’ve always enjoyed the tales of King Arthur. When I was a teenager, I got hooked on watching John Boorman’s 1981 film Excalibur on VHS. I still believe it is the best movie adaptation of the old legend. I went on to read T. H. White’s wonderful novel The Once and Future King, and even dipped my toe into the deep waters of Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur. So I was intrigued to hear that BOOM! Studios were publishing a comic book based on the Arthurian Myth, only set in modern-day England.

Publisher’s Synopsis

When a group of Nationalists use an ancient artifact to bring a villain from Arthurian myth back from the dead to gain power, ex-monster hunter Bridgette McGuire escapes her retirement home and pulls her unsuspecting grandson Duncan, a museum curator, into a world of magic and mysticism to defeat a legendary threat.

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Utopia Avenue (2020) by David Mitchell

‘Sure. But reality creeps in wherever you live, however pretty the flowers are, however blue the sky, however great the parties. The only people who actually live in dreams are people in comas.’

Publisher’s Synopsis

Utopia Avenue are the strangest British band you’ve never heard of. Emerging from London’s psychedelic scene in 1967 and fronted by folksinger Elf Holloway, guitar demigod Jasper de Zoet and blues bassist Dean Moss, Utopia Avenue released only two LPs during its brief and blazing journey from the clubs of Soho and draughty ballrooms to Top of the Pops and the cusp of chart success, to glory in Amsterdam, prison in Rome and a fateful American fortnight in the autumn of 1968.

David Mitchell’s new novel tells the unexpurgated story of Utopia Avenue; of riots in the streets and revolutions in the head; of drugs, thugs, madness, love, sex, death, art; of the families we choose and the ones we don’t; of fame’s Faustian pact and stardom’s wobbly ladder. Can we change the world in turbulent times, or does the world change us? Utopia means ‘nowhere’ but could a shinier world be within grasp, if only we had a map?

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Catwoman 80th Anniversary Special (2020) by Various Artists

If you are a fan of the character or a fan of comic books, you will very likely enjoy this. I did, and I recommend it to all comic book fans out there. It’s a good chance to sample a variety of stories written and drawn by some of the current creative teams in comics in 2020.

Speaking of the creative teams, they feature in the ten stories in this 100-page special. The writers are Ann Nocenti, Will Pfeifer, Tom King, Ed Brubaker, Paul Dini, Jeff Parker, Chuck Dixon, Ram V, and Mindy Newell. The artists are Ty Templeton, Jonathan Case, Steve Rude, Lee Garbett, Tim Sale, Pia Guerra, Kelley Jones, Fernando Blanco, Robson Rocha, Jim Balent, Emanuela Lupacchino, Tula Lotay, Mikel Janin, and Cameron Stewart.

Released with a whopping 23 variant covers, I ordered the 1970s variant with gorgeous art by Frank Cho & Sabine Rich. I’ve always had a soft spot for that purple and green costume. I’ll post some images of the main variants below. Please let me know which one you would choose!

1970s Variant Cover by Frank Cho & Sabine Rich
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