Review – Bloodshot Reborn #11 (Valiant)

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Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Lewis Larosa, Brian Reber
Release Date: 24th February, 2016

Picking up exactly where issue 10 left us, it’s great to see that even after 30 years Bloodshot still can’t stand Ninjak….

We open to Ninjak’s story and his recent escape from LA. Instead of protecting the city, the Goo has gone on a rampage and it’s killing everything in an unstoppable sea of slaughter. This was in spite of a fightback from Ninjak, Faithe, Animalia, and Torque. In the end, the Goo proves itself to be just too powerful and we see only Ninjak escape. It’s while recounting this to him that Ninjak asks Ray for help. Bloodshot’s answer: Get Lost. It’s well executed by Lemire, not only does it cement the relationship between Ray and Ninjak, it reminds us that Bloodshot is an anti-hero who doesn’t always do the right thing. At least, not without a push.

This is what is so clever about how Jeff Lemire has written this episode. The Analogue Man story is a jump-on point for new Bloodshot readers to pick up the story and the character. However, rather than using the old exposition trope of your hero thinking/saying ‘I can’t defeat [insert bad guy name here], because my powers don’t work on [insert bad guy ability/device/plot point]!’ Jeff has used seamless narrative and suggestion to fill in these blanks. Using some clever writing the reader can easily pick up on the singular nature of Bloodshot, that he sees himself as separate from normal people, alien (as in not quite human), and that his story and motivation are born of tragedy. Bloodshot will always do the right thing in the end, but getting to that end usually costs him parts of what little humanity he believes he has left. Interestingly, this is something that makes him all the more human to the reader. Jeff does a fantastic job of bringing all that together over a few pages, of delivering this background information to you, possibly without you consciously realising it. All this is achieved using only the plot to do so. That’s class.

The tag-team of Lewis Larosa and Brian Reber really are Valiant Entertainment’s secret weapon. The detail Larosa injects into his line work is uniquely stylised in that it gives off a slightly abstract feel to it. It’s a curious juxtaposition that gives Larosa’s work its individuality, and Brian Reber manages to play on this beautifully when adding colours. As with the last issue there are some truly spectacular panels here. A great example is the second page of the issue – a full page panel with a grandiose element of perspective. Moving from the detailed elements at the bottom of the page and getting more abstract as we reach the top. Of course, this represents the bokeh camera phenomenon, but also contains strong foreground – midground – background elements that make up one of the golden rules of photography composition. It makes for a wonderful, yet powerful scene.

I could easily talk from page to page praising the art and story in this episode, but I won’t. I will however say that dotted through the issue are some utterly spectacular panels; Ray (in silhouette) lifting the truck back onto its wheels, his return (and reaction) to his village, being re-united with Magic, and the final panel are all visually and emotionally strong. I have to confess that my favourite page is not that imposing in terms of scale, but is in terms of the relationship between Bloodshot and Ninjak. It’s a four panel page where Ray finally agrees to help. The faces of our two protagonists in each panel as they interact are so significant to how these two characters perceive one another. It’s such a great little scene that fans of the series (I think) will love.

Over the eleven issues so far, Jeff Lemire’s reboot of Bloodshot has added layers of complexity that other franchises have taken years to achieve. There is so much flawed humanity to this character, and once again Jeff is putting Bloodshot through the wringer. The Analogue Man is proving to be an interesting twist on a fallen/reluctant hero storyline and I’m not completely sure what is coming next. It’s Bloodshot we’re talking about so it will be undeniably brutal, but this Bloodshot is also a lot more than violence and that is what is keeping me interested. That, and some truly sensational art.

Rating: 4.5/5.

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The writer of this piece was: Andrew McGlinn
Andrew Tweets from @Jockdoom.

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