Wednesday, March 24, 2021

On the shelf: Of Aliens and ancient warriors

 30 years ago, Keanu Reeves took the first steps toward proving he was more than just one half of the "Bill & Ted" movie franchise when he appeared in a Paula Abdul music video for "Rush Rush", which was a tribute to James Dean.

With three "Bill & Ted" movies, the "Matrix" & "John Wick" series now dotting his resume, Reeves is trying something new.

Writing a comic book.

After a four month wait, BRZRKR finally landed on store shelves earlier this month from Boom! Studios. Created and co-written by Reeves with one of the current hot commodities in the comics industry in Matt Kindt, BRZRKR, a 12 issue maxi-series, is the story of an ancient warrior, thousands of years old, who now works for the government in exchange for giving up his immortality and allowing himself to pass on.

Artistically, veteran artist Ron Garney creates a visual mix that recalls what may well be his own influences, such as Joe Kubert, the Buscema brothers, and, to an extent, John Romita, Jr.. It wasn't long after the first issue was released that it was announced that Netflix will do a movie adaptation, plus an anime series. Reeves is, unsurprisingly, interested in doing both.

Reeves also narrates the Boom! trailer for the series:

Stylistically, with the title character modeled after Reeves himself, it's a mix of John Wick and Frankenstein's Monster. Entertaining, and worth the investment.

Rating: A-.
With 20th Century Fox now part of the Disney family, along with Marvel Comics, the "Alien" & "Predator" movie franchises will have future comics series published by Marvel. Predator debuts in June. Alien debuted this week.

Set more than 100 years from now, it appears that some corporate barons are unaware of the danger that awaits them. Marvel opted for a 40 page opener, but the series will drop down to 32 pages for $4 next month. 

Rating: Incomplete.
Staying with Marvel, the 2nd Ultraman miniseries arrived last week, continuing the storyline from the Rise of Ultraman. Unfortunately, there's only so much you can do to make the Japanese franchise, which has been around for more than 50-55 years, relevant to American audiences in the 21st century. The Trials of Ultraman reveals that the United Science Police have gone public, which may not be the smartest of moves, and the story is filled with so many tropes familiar to American readers. And you wonder why Hollywood has failed to make older franchises like Tarzan and The Lone Ranger relevant in the 21st century? Unfortunately, Ultraman has fallen into that category.

Rating: B--.
After nearly 60 years as a franchise, DC's Teen Titans now merits the opportunity to have the members of the 80's team become instructors themselves, training the next generation.

Teen Titans Academy is set up for a crossover with Suicide Squad come June, and it has to do with Red X, a character introduced in the 2003 Teen Titans animated series, and who made his comics debut in the just-concluded Future State: Teen Titans miniseries. One fault readers are already finding is the lack of cohesion between this series and Nightwing's solo series, as they're already teasing a rekindling of affections between Nightwing and Starfire, his alien honey from the 80's. This bears watching.

Rating: Incomplete.
Superman headlines the 2nd issue of DC's new Truth & Justice anthology series, in a tale where the emphasis is more on his human alter-ego, Clark Kent, and his pursuit of a story involving the mysteries surrounding African American prisoners being sprung, then sent back, rinse & repeat. It's also a means of bringing back an obscure Superman foe, The Master Jailer, who hasn't been seen in years. Whereas in the past, it was established that Carl Draper, aka Master Jailer, was an old high school acquaintance of Clark's, that has been ret-conned out. Here, Draper is a locksmith and a con artist. Master Jailer, I think, was the inspiration for Lock-Up, a villain on Batman: The Animated Series in the 90's. However, I prefer the original Jailer.

The story, though, by Brandon Easton, should not be missed.

Rating: A.

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