Story: Jeff Lemire
Art: Mico Suayan (art), David Baron (colours) and Dave Lanphear (letters)
The next phase of Valiant kicks off with and amongst the first off the line is the action-heavy adventures of Bloodshot, the super-soldier, unkillable, reluctant hero. While he’s been a mainstay of the larger universe of these comics, he’s been largely a solo act who reluctantly gets teamed up again and again – now after a long while, he’s back running solo, but is the character strong enough to carry the comic? Especially after all that’s happened? That’s what I try and assess here. ALSO! If you are still reading The Valiant and other series, minor spoilers ahead!
After the devastating finale of THE VALIANT last month, Bloodshot begins a brand new, darker kind of journey in his all-new ongoing series… His nanites may be gone, but the void inside him continues to grow. How will he cope with a world he no longer has any power to change? Haunted by the past – and strange new visitors – can the man once called Bloodshot forge a new life even as a brutal killers appear nationwide, seemingly molded in his former image?
The biggest challenge for a comic like this was always going to be the main character of Bloodshot himself. In essence he is a lot like other unkillable, reluctant heroes like Wolverine and would inevitably draw comparisons. For me it was even more critical because the recent final of The Valiant, the most recent company-wide crossover mini-series, had Bloodshot depowered and now human. Something that was recently done with the aforementioned Wolverine, for example.
In this I’m pleased to say that writer Jeff Lemire has once again risen to a challenge and crafted a character that both builds on the previous issues and adds a layer to him. For starters, he is truly alone – a powerless man, on the run and in hiding lest the malicious Project Rising Sun (or someone else) find him. The lifestyle he falls into, to the point where I could feel pity welling up as I saw and read what he was going through emotionally and psychologically – and for this massive credit to the art team who do a lovely job with this comic from the first two-pages (which are stunning!) all the way through the ending, definitely some of the nicest art I’ve seen in a Valiant comic and that says a lot to me.
Lastly, special love and shout out to the quirky new addition to Bloodshots story that is drawn by Lemire himself in this issue and I assume will be so in future issues – stellar idea and an interesting extension of the psychological aspect of the characters situation.
Also, I was dreading that they would make our hero into Bloodshot again really soon – thereby making his humanisation seem almost pointless, but though that seems like it’s inevitable, it seems at least some time before we go there outright (at least I hope so).
What’s not so good:
There’s not a lot of negative going in this book – the lack of supporting cast was a lacking touch though. Lemire tried to create something resembling that with the old lady Gene and her weird grandson, but though they stayed suitable out of the way and didn’t take up space, I was hoping for just a little more of him interacting with people (however it went) as a greater peek into his current state and behaviour. Perhaps more of that in issues ahead, though it will be different given the issues finale.
The bigger concern I have is the use of Kay the Geomancer from The Valiant. She died in that series and now she’s back here, ostensibly as a representation of another aspect of his psyche – but between that and Lemires other construct, it seems like a little bit of overkill and perhaps could have been done without. But clearly she’s here to stay so I trust that Lemire will make good use of her presence and not fall into that cliched swamp that is like the Wolverine-Jean Grey pining romance and all.
The Last Word:
This overall exploration of what it means to be in the mind of someone who has been what he has been and how his mind is dealing now that he has both his freedom and his memories is excellent and made me go from someone reading the comic as a just-about fan of the previous series and a big fan of Valiant, to someone who now REALLY wants to read the next issue and see what happens. Couple that with the snap-shots we get at the end, from upcoming issues and my eyes were like dinner-plates at the possibilities.
Story Score: 9.5 / 10
Art Score: 9.8 / 10
Overall Score: 9.6 / 10