You know what Berserker is like? It’s like a Rob Zombie film on paper. This first issue will make sense if you’ve already read the excellent #0 primer, but there’s enough going on here to not be completely perplexed.
It begins, and ends with a car crash, which leaves the bulk of the issue to deal with the how and why of said crash. Aaron and Courtney are a young couple fed up with their boring high school life. They need a break, or at least an escape, and after Aaron freaks out at a wrestling competition, they decide to take the opportunity to skip town for a new life.
Similarly an older couple, Farris and Eva are looking to leave their dull metal shop jobs and sleazy boss. Readers of the #0 issue will know Farris as the captured Marine somehow cursed with an unexplainable rage and a tendency to separate nearby heads from their bodies. There’s no further explanation as to the whys of all the bloodletting just yet, but the Norse mythology angle that was promised in the solicitations is more prominent in this issue.
We are introduced to two agents of some kind, namely Rowena Dauven and Ray Becket. The latter is apparently, “Asgard’s rising star,” and these two have a tug of war over Aaron and Farris. It’s a quick and brutal fight, and just what the interest in the two berserkers is has yet to be shown, but seeds are planted for future issues.
Writer Rick Loverd (Friday Night Lights) paces things well, and conveys the oppressive nature of a small town existence for the two leads beautifully. Jeremy Haun’s art is rich with blood and pulp and tissue and goo. He seems to be enjoying himself. It’s so grotesque that I couldn’t help but laugh at the black comedy of it all, especially the last page which is similar to the closer of the #0 issue. Haun brings forth the shock and horror of the few quick fight scenes splendidly, like a so-bad-it’s-good horror film from the ‘80s.
Without the Norse angle this could easily venture in to more mundane, schlock territory, but I reckon Loverd and Haun are creating a bold series that goes past blood and guts tactics. This book comes to shelves via Heroes star Milo Ventimiglia and his DiVide Pictures and Top Cow were the best publisher to bring it to. With series like Impaler and The Darkness, they get it, and are building an interesting stable of raw, mature titles.