Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Lewis Larosa
Release Date: 27th January, 2016
A new Bloodshot story arc and a new art team. Instead of picking up where we left off, after dangling the carrot of Bloodshot Island in front of us, Lemire has thrown us for a loop. A thirty-year long loop into the future. It’s a brave move by any writer to set a story in the future timeline of an ongoing series. The events that unfold within that future story establish boundaries in the past that need to be adhered to. Not only that, the writer needs to re-sell the character because so much of what readers are familiar with is now moot.
So we leave Colorado for California thirty years in the future. Ray and Magic now watch over a small community in the scorched Mojave Desert. Things in the future are not good. The world is a slave to Goo-Tech, an advanced type of nanotechnology that can integrate into, or become, anything, and it’s all controlled by the G.A.T.E AI. The community Ray and Magic are part of do not use Goo-Tech, but they are a slave to a much more human condition: thirst. For thirty years Ray has made periodic journeys to LA to steal water from one of the reservoirs outside the city. It’s at the beginning of another water run that we start our new story.
I have to admit to being a complete newb when it comes to the Valiant Universe (Valiantvese)? I only started reading Bloodshot on the recommendation of another BCP reviewer, Ross. My one and only skirt with Valiant was a few issues of Ivar, Timewalker, but I took to Bloodshot with gusto. Having read issues 1-9 recently I jumped on #10 when it became available to review. I have very much enjoyed the legacy of the character the Lemire is constructing.
I’m not going to say I wasn’t skeptical when I realised that the new arc would be a future one, but I did take pause. I shouldn’t have worried though, Lemire’s writing welcomes you in and places you right in the driving seat with minimal fuss. You don’t have time to complain that so much has changed – nor should you if I’m honest. In a couple of pages, you know exactly what has happened and are absorbed in the new story complete. I don’t really care if it’s a Mad Max cliche we’ve arrived at, it’s Bloodshot: Fury Road this issue and I’m all in.
Actually, that last statement is a disservice to Jeff’s writing. Of course it’s not Mad Max, but it definitely carries the spirit of George Miller’s Road Warrior. It’s quite exciting as you are right back in the action in issue 10. It’s such a complete injection into the new story that you just accept that Ray has now found his humanity, has achieved a level of symbiosis with the nanites. It’s happened, I hope Jeff shows us how in another arc, but right now we’ve hydration problems to solve and a community to protect.
Of course, it wouldn’t be possible to set a story years in the future without some retrospective. This is my one complaint about this issue – remember I said I’m new to the Valiant Universe? Well, most of the retrospective in issue 10 dwells on what happened to other heroes in this time. So, on my first read through I hadn’t the first clue what Lemire was telling me. I didn’t know who Shadowman was, or that Aric was X O Manowar, or what the hell G.A.T.E was (Global Agency for Threat Exclusion in case you are wondering)? I’ll be honest, this kind of pissed me off, but then Valiant doesn’t have the exposure of the big two where you’ve had years to take on information by osmosis!
Is it a deal-breaker? Well, ultimately, no, I don’t think so. Twenty minutes on Wikipedia sorted me out, but I feel I suffered a little for not having that connection on first read through. If you are familiar with these characters then this will just be the cherry on a quite delicous Bloodshot cake for you.
We’ve a new art team for this arc. As much as I loved the sketchy style of Butch Guice and the stylistic red palette of David Barons, the new team of Lewis Larosa and Brian Reber have turned this up to 11. Get this team locked down, Bloodshot looks great. There is an incredible amount of detail in Larosa’s art that gives off such a sense of realism. The transformation of Ray from old man to Bloodshot is nothing short of awesome; those three panels are terrific. Old man Ray opening the duffel bag full of weapons, you get a glimce of the Bloodshot symbol on a Tee Shirt folded inside. Next, Ray holding a pistol as his eyes glow read and his spindly, frail aged body starts to fill out. Finally, the full page shot of Bloodshot, gun held high, skin silver except for the red disc on his chest. It’s a fist pump moment and complete money shot if ever there was one, and it’s brilliantly drawn and coloured by Larosa and Reber.
In fact, there are several stand-out panels in my opinion. The approach to LA is a brilliant wide-shot. The sense of motion that is captured in the skewed panel of the Shadowmen raiding party attacking Ray’s tanker. The panels where the Goo-Tech weapon is used and the final panel/reveal are all exceptional quality. Get. This. Team. Locked. Down.
I’m completely on board with the direction of this new arc. It’s not what I expected and having consumed this issue several times I’m now here for the long haul. Bloodshot is a fantastically exciting character, and the new setting Lemire has put him in – having Boodshot as the obsolete tech – is an interesting twist on the canon. I think this new story has some mileage, and it’s going to be lively seeing what Jeff Lemire has dreamed up for us.
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The writer of this piece was: Andrew McGlinn
Andrew Tweets from @Jockdoom.