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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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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Top Reads of 2020

Another year draws to a close, so it’s time to publish my Top Reads of the year. These are the stories that stood out for me over the past 12 months. They are listed in no particular order; just the ones I enjoyed reading the most during this crazy year of 2020. If you click on the title, it will take you to my review.


Best Books Read in 2020

Dune (1965) by Frank Herbert
Dune Messiah (1969) by Frank Herbert
Europe at Dawn (2018) by Dave Hutchinson
In the Forests of Serre (2004) by Patricia McKillip
Utopia Avenue (2020) by David Mitchell
The Folding Knife (2010) by K.J. Parker
The Secret Commonwealth (2019) by Philip Pullman
Lancelot (2018) by Giles Kristian
The Stand (1978) by Stephen King


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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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Hellblazer: Dangerous Habits (1991) by Garth Ennis & Will Simpson

My horror-themed month continues with one of the best John Constantine, Hellblazer stories: Dangerous Habits. For this, we have to go back in time to 1991 when Garth Ennis became the regular writer of DC Comics’ horror title Hellblazer. This was in the days before the Vertigo imprint existed. (Alas, it is no more!) Hellblazer was “suggested for mature readers,” and was one of a group of “mature” titles being published at that time. These included Swamp Thing, Sandman, Animal Man, Doom Patrol, and Shade the Changing Man.

Cover Art by Glenn Fabry

My Synopsis

John Constantine has faced all manner of ghosts, demons, and even serial killers before. But this time it’s serious! Years of smoking 30 cigarettes a day has left John with terminal lung cancer. That’s right, he’s going to die, and there aren’t any magic spells he knows to make it go away. In fact, he’s even contemplating giving up and ending it all. Who would’ve thought it? “Conjob” Constantine not even trying to talk or trick his way out of something? Unbelievable! But hang on a minute. Perhaps there are a couple of possibilities still open to him. Now you think about it, if anyone can actually pull this off, it has to be John Constantine, right?

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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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Christopher Priest’s “Black Panther”

Like many, I was shocked and saddened by the news of Chadwick Boseman’s passing last month. I enjoyed his performances as Black Panther in the Marvel movies, especially his first appearance in Captain America: Civil War. It got me thinking about the Black Panther comic book, a title I’ve never read. I’ve only read Fantastic Four issue #52 (July 1966) in which the character made his debut, penned by the legendary creative combo of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.

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Saga Vol.1 (2012) by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples

Author: Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples
Title: Saga
Series: Saga
Format: Kindle Edition
Length: 160 pages
Rating: ★★★★☆


Publisher’s Synopsis

When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe.

From bestselling writer Brian K. Vaughan, Saga is the sweeping tale of one young family fighting to find their place in the worlds. Fantasy and science fiction are wed like never before in this sexy, subversive drama for adults.


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