‘BRZRKR: Bloodlines’ (Volume #1) by Keanu Reeves – Graphic Novel Review

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Discover the brutal hidden history of Keanu Reeves’ record-shattering immortal warrior’s saga, soon to be adapted for Netflix!

Renowned filmmaker and record-shattering comic creator Keanu Reeves is joined by writer/artist Steve Skroce (The Matrix, Post Americana), screenwriter and director Mattson Tomlin (A Vicious Circle, The Batman Part II), and artist Rebekah Isaacs (Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Money Shot) for a pair of self-contained stories set within the 80,000 year history of BRZRKR! In Poetry of Madness, a sea of gore and devastation awaits as B., through a fateful chance encounter, safeguards the advanced and ancient realm of Atlantis as its unstoppable protector. But a sickly monarch serves as a symbol for the rot inside, as the security and bliss created through B.’s violence is shallow…the cracks created by a secret cult might spell a monstrous end for the legendary city, one beyond even B.’s ability to save. In Dead Empire, a former kingdom eradicated by the BRZRKR has a single living survivor. She and her people knew B. as the God King. In this tragic story of death and cataclysm, the survivor recounts a fable in which lost love, manipulation, and warring empires brought out the very worst of Unute… but is the fable’s narrator reliable? What might the survivor be hiding? Collects BRZRKR: Poetry of Madness #1 and BRZRKR: Fallen Empire #1.

Title – BRZRKR: Bloodlines [Volume #1]

Author(s) –  Keanu Reeves (Author), Mattson Tomlin (Author), Steve Skroce (Illustrator)

Publisher – BOOM! Studios

Genre – Fantasy/Action [Adult Fiction]

Chapters – 2 Stories

Pages – 112 (Print)

Cover – 7/10

Release Date – 2 April, 2024

Get your copy Amazon

Let’s start with a simple enough question – What would you do when you found out that ‘John Wick’, aka Keanu Reeves, has written a comic/graphic novel series featuring himself as an immortal warrior who loves carnage? Me personally, I would want to grab a copy instantly! I mean, it sure sounds super fun, right? So when I got my eyes on ‘BRZRKR: Bloodlines’ over at NetGalley, I beat the heck out of the ‘Read Now’ button until I got the digital copy. And for that, I would like to thank the authors, the publishers – BOOM! Studios, and NetGalley for making it readily available. Oh, and how can I forget? My deepest of thanks to ‘Mr. John Wick’ himself!

So then, what really is ‘BRZRKR’ all about?

‘BRZRKR: Bloodlines’ is the first volume of the series which collects two stories – ‘Poetry of Madness’ and ‘Fallen Empire’. Both of these stories shed a light on the life and times of the immortal, carnage-loving warrior known as the Berserker (portrayed by Keanu Reeves himself). Here’s a quick summary, along with the pros and cons for each:

  • Poetry of Madness

Welcome to Atlantis! A kingdom like no other, Atlantis is full of wealth and prosperity under the rule of King Azaes the Kind. But naturally, enemies want to take over the rich kingdom and have it all for themselves. But Atlantis and its people have nothing to worry or fear about. The King’s Guard is there to protect them. And oh, if you didn’t already know, the Guard is not consisted of “they”, but just one person, and one person only…

For Atlantis’s true legend isn’t in its spires or its riches… but in the demi-god who protects them.

Behold!! Poseidon’s pet demon! The tip of the trident! The hope slayer! Unute, the Berserker!!!

A still from ‘Poetry of Madness’

Yep, it’s the one and only ‘John Wick’ aka Keanu Reeves himself as Unute, the Berserker!

The opening sequence sets the tone for what this series is going to be about (at least for most parts in my opinion anyways) – blood, gore, and total CARNAGE! The present attacking enemy forces don’t even stand a chance against the Berserker as he makes light work of them all, slashing and cutting them down to pieces one by one (almost quite literally!). And just like that, Atlantis is unharmed yet again, thanks to ‘John Wi…’, uh, I meant the Berserker. Unute, who is physically messed up himself and covered in gore, is paraded through the city as a hero. Not to worry one bit though, as he is an immortal demi-god (if you hadn’t figured it out already) … who also has healing powers (not surprised to be honest, no?).

The story is narrated in the first person POV of Zubatai, a loyal servant to the beloved monarch of Atlantis, King Azaes the Kind. Not only that, she is also the honored chronicler and squire to the King’s personal guard, the royal protector of Atlantis – Unute himself. Her master, the Berserker, has only one true need that must forever be met… CARNAGE. Oh, and he absolutely LOVES carnage. And as Zubatai mentions –

The people want their gore.

And they all, including us fellow readers, are gonna get plenty of it right here!

The king is behaving a bit strange lately, and Vizane, the wizard priest, has something nasty and evil up his sleeves… And suddenly, one fine day, Atlantis is thrown into total chaos, destruction, and death when an unspeakable and equally unimaginable horror is unleashed. Can Zubatai and her master, Unute the Berserker, save the city and its people before it’s too late?

  • Pros
    • Blood, gore, and carnage present (if you love that kind of stuff) … lots of it!
    • A pretty good “twist” as to the identity of the real enemy. Was certainly not expecting it for sure. Took me by surprise.
  • Cons
    • Not a solid enough plot in my honest opinion. Didn’t get connected, or satisfied, with how it unfolded.
    • The ending wasn’t that satisfactory.

  • Fallen Empire

This time, we start off “many centuries ago” (presumably in the context to the events of ‘Poetry of Madness’) at a desert kingdom named Olos. The king is anything but kind (unlike the one from the first story). He is ruthless and hungry for power, with a sense of madness about him, and will do anything to crush his enemies. But onto his land, one day, steps foot a person who is not human…

The Berserker is here, and Olos is thrown into turmoil as the immortal’s thirst for carnage seems to be never-ending. The queen, who is hiding secrets including her own dark past, sets out to carry on with a plan that will set in motion nothing but death and destruction of the highest of orders for Olos and beyond.

Narrated by the first person POV of a mysterious woman who has been the witness of the Berserker’s journey and carnage firsthand, this tale depicts a range of emotions with an underlying aspect of sadness and grief… and what ultimately happens when the “rage for carnage” takes over…

  • Pros
    • Blood, gore, and carnage present… but in a considerably lesser amount (which I thought worked out well).
    • There was more to the story, and I really liked it.
    • The emotions displayed – anger, sadness, grief, betrayal, love, etc. came across pretty well.
    • The ending was pretty good and satisfactory.
  • Cons
    • None. I enjoyed this one much better than the first.

What was great about it?

  • The illustrations were really good throughout. Very much liked the style of it all.
  • As mentioned, this has plenty of blood and gore if you like that stuff, and absolutely pulls no punches.
  • Read it in one sitting, and enjoyed it for the most parts.
  • There are alternate covers present for both the stories. Loved that!

What didn’t hit the mark?

  • Both the stories were lacking that “X factor” in terms of plot (although I felt that the second was much, much better than the first).

Other info.

  • Note: Strong, mature themes present throughout, like – blood, gore, nudity, profanity, etc.

Final thoughts

Overall, if you are looking for a fun and enjoyable start to a series featuring an immortal being who loves carnage, then this just might be what you are looking for. With no shortage of blood, gore, action, drama, and a decent amount of “steamy” stuff throughout, ‘BRZRKR: Bloodlines’ (Volume #1) pulls no punches in delivering the aforementioned elements. The plot aspect could have been done better in my opinion, but nonetheless, this was a pretty good enough read altogether.