This comic is not worth the three dollar price tag it carries with only eight pages of story. Eight pages of story are what you expect for a zero issue, so that’s not a big surprise, but that it costs the price of a regular 22-page comic is. It’s a rip-off considering that the rest of the issue is padded with promotional material for other Top Cow books. Gee, we get to not just overpay for the amount of content offered, but also pay for promotional material? Thanks, Top Cow! I didn’t expect their pledge that regular comics would cost $2.99 in 2009 to apply to short, preview books like this. Well, live and learn.
It’s especially frustrating, because Avatar Press releases zero issues with eight pages of story plus promotional material and those cost… wait for it… a dollar. That seems much more reasonable, don’t you think? Since, isn’t the goal of an issue like this to gain readers, to offer a tease of what’s to come at a reasonable price in the hopes that people will pick it up and want more? Eight pages for three bucks doesn’t seem like the best way of doing that. It almost makes those sixteen pages of “Astonishing X-Men: Ghost Boxes” for four dollars not seem quite as bad.
But, let’s not fault creators Rick Loverd and Jeremy Haun for the practices of their publisher too much. No, let’s take these eight pages of story on their own terms. That’s actually hard to do since the price-for-content ratio is just so overwhelming. It’s hard to see past it, particularly since the content isn’t good enough to come close to rising above it. Don’t get me wrong, these eight pages aren’t bad, but they also don’t make me salivate at the prospects of buying “Berserker” #1.
The story is framed by Farris Jorn undergoing hypnotherapy to deal with his post-traumatic stress disorder, which stems from his time serving as a marine in Afghanistan. He and another marine are captured by enemy forces and tortured until Farris goes insane with rage and slaughters everyone. The concept is intriguing, but the dialogue is only serviceable, rarely rising above doing the bare minimum to communicate necessary information. That the marine captured with Farris makes reference to Vikings is a little cutesy since the “berserker” is something that comes from the Vikings.
The real joy here is Jeremy Haun’s art. His work is very soft around the edges, but that only makes the harsher scenes have more impact. When Farris goes berserk is brutal and messy, almost sickening. Haun also uses unexpected perspectives in his panels, utilizing shots looking down on characters quite a bit, which adds a strangely voyeuristic feel to some shots. If these pages are a promise of what’s to come then they certainly sell Haun.
“Berserker” #0 offers an interesting preview of the series, but at $2.99 for eight pages, it’s really not worth it. When other publishers offer similar previews in far more cost effective manners, there’s no excuse for such a giant rip-off from Top Cow. Not to mention that the majority of this comic is promotional material for non-“Berserker” comics, which results in the one “Berserker”-related promo interview being truncated, while an interview for the “Witchblade/Darkness” crossover is given more space. All in all, a decent preview packaged in a horrible manner.