Ever wanted to know what Keanu Reeves’s, I mean, Unute’s backstory is in BRZRKR? Well, now you can in a single graphic novel with BRZRKR Vol. 1.
BRZRKR Vol. 1 is a graphic novel that collects issues #1 through #4 of the comic book series. As with the comic book series, Keanu Reeves and Matt Kindt (BRZRKR, Ninjak) are the writers. Ron Garney is the artist, with Bill Crabtree as the colorist and Clem Robins as the letterer. Rafael Grampá drew the main cover art, with Tyler Kirkham and Arif Prianto, Lee Garbett, Jonboy Meyers, Ron Garney, Inhyuk Lee, and Dan Mora responsible for all the variant covers. Oh, and lastly, BOOM! Studios is the publisher for this action comic book series.
BRZRKR Vol. 1 went on sale on September 29, 2021. You can purchase print copies at your local comic book shop for that sweet paper feel. Or if you’re fine with the digital version, you can download it from content providers like ComiXology. You can also order both the physical and/or the digital version via Amazon.
Warning: spoilers for BRZRKR Vol. 1 and BRZRKR #1 through #4 below. If you want to read this bloody action saga of a comic book for yourself, stop here, and come back once the screaming and unpleasantly wet sounds are over.
BRZRKR Vol. 1: Plot Summary
As I mentioned multiple times, BRZRKR Vol. 1 collects issues #1 through #4 of the comic book into a single graphic novel. To summarize: our story begins with our protagonist Unute sitting on a bench in heavy rain somewhere like a particularly uncaring homeless person. He doesn’t stay that way for long though. He’s soon jumping out of a helicopter into a palace somewhere, and initiating a really one-sided slaughter of some random soldiers. Apparently, guns are useless against an immortal with regeneration. Anyways, the “battle” ends with Unute killing the target against orders, and thus he flies back to the US for…therapy.
At least, that’s what I’d describe what he goes through. See, Unute wants to die, but he doesn’t know how to. On account of him being immortal and having unlimited regeneration. So he turns to the US government and SCIENCE to try and figure out a way. He not only undergoes batteries of medical tests, but also psychotherapy trying to tease out his past to uncover clues on how to kill him. It’s during these psychotherapy sessions where we see Unute’s origin story.
Apparently, Unute was born about 80,000 years ago; during the time of the last Ice Age. His tribe was apparently the local punching bag for all the surrounding tribes, all because they had the misfortune of choosing to live in a fertile yet indefensible valley. Every “season”, the other tribes would band together, and go on raids of Unute’s tribe, “harvesting” them for their women and children. Well, the chief and his wife eventually had enough of this. Fortunately, the chief’s wife is a shaman, and she does a ritual that results in her becoming pregnant with Unute…through making love with a god. It makes sense in context, as does the fact that she gives birth to Unute only 2 months later.
Unute is a boy with super-strength and regeneration. He also occasionally goes on murderous rampages against anything living that has the misfortune in his way, including members of his own tribe. In other words: the perfect weapon/tool. In fact, that’s what Unute means. So of course, his father aims him at the next invading army, and it’s a one-sided massacre. Unfortunately, Unute’s father gets a bit drunk on power, and aims him at tribes who weren’t even attacking them, just because they were rich. This, of course, means that a massive army goes to fight their tribe. They lure Unute away with one army, while another army hits the village while Unute is away. Everyone Unute cares for is dead, so he lets the army kill him. Except that he still didn’t die. His corpse just turned into an egg-thing, and he hatched out of it some time later.
So yeah, that’s why he wants to die. Unfortunately, he might have to hold off on that a bit longer. His psychotherapist, Diana, shows up at his doorstep, announces to him that she hasn’t told him the whole truth, and proceeds to head inside to tell him the full story of what the US government wants with him. So what is this story? Well, that’s what we’ll find out in BRZRKR #5, because that’s it for this graphic novel.
BRZRKR Vol. 1: The Good
The art is what’s best about BRZRKR as a whole, including Vol. 1, in my opinion. Specifically, the artistically bloody gore. Yes, I’m calling it artistic. There’s a definite brutality to the gore, but there’s also this weird artistic style to it. Brutally artistic? Artistically brutal? Whatever you call it, there is something disturbingly fascinating about the gorey artwork.
Unute himself is also an interesting protagonist. He was born to be a berserker, but clearly no longer wants to live that kind of life. All he really wants to do is be with his long-deceased family again, but his only way out is death, and that’s not an option for him right now. He’s a prime example of I Cannot Self-Terminate. Bonus points for him being modeled after Keanu Reeves.
BRZRKR Vol. 1: The Bad
The bloody gore is both a good and bad point of BRZRKR. I’ll admit, some people might get turned off by the sheer volume of ludicrously brutal gore. Playing the Gears of War games in my childhood probably inured me to high levels of gore, but that’s just me.
The story of BRZRKR also feels like Unute is the only main character around. There’s definitely a bunch of important characters aside from Unute, but so far, none of them have felt like main characters the way he is. It could be deliberate on the part of Keanu Reeves and Matt Kindt, but I’m hoping that he gets another main character to interact with soon.
BRZRKR Vol. 1 is a nice collection of issues #1 through #4 of the comic book series by Keanu Reeves and Matt Kindt. With this graphic novel from BOOM! Studios, you can now read those 4 issues without having to switch between comic books. Now all we need is issue #5 to get to see what happens next in Unute’s story.