Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Mico Suayan
Release Date: 29th June 2016
[Warning – Review Contains Minor Spoilers]
Bloodshot Island. We’ve been hearing about this arc from Valiant for a while. The publisher seems excited about it, anyway. I’m still trying to rebound from how incredible The Analogue Man arc was, but there is no time for that now. Magic is missing and Ray doesn’t know where they are. This is how it begins, with panic and confusion.
You may have guessed that the pace of this arc begins fast. BOOM. Ray awakes alone, no idea where he is and what happened to Magic. BOOM. Ray reaches a beach, this is an island, but a force field keeps him land bound. BOOM! Literally. Someone starts bombing the Island and Ray breaks into a run, right into the path of another … Bloodshot? Now this is where things get a little bit interesting.
Ray discovers another 5 antiquated Bloodshots on the Island, each from a different wartime period. Various evolutions of the Bloodshot programme, each one as identifiable as the war he served in. He learns that each day they are pitted against a foe called Deathmate, and each day they die trying to kill her. Then, overnight, they are all rebooted and the cycle starts again, some of them have been trapped on the Island for years living this life. Welcome to Groundhog Day meets The Running Man.
It’s another intriguing idea from the imagination of Jeff Lemire, as he continues to add new dimensions to the legacy of Bloodshot. Bloodshot Squad (as they call themselves) is perhaps a risky move that may divide opinion. Purists may be unhappy with this perceived dilution of the character; others will love this peek into the history of The Bloodshot program. Personally, I only see possibilities, and that’s a good thing in my opinion.
The Deathmate character – not to be confused with the 90’s Image/Valiant crossover event – is a new player in the Valiant universe. Immediately you can’t help but draw parallels to DC’s Doomsday. We meet a foe so powerful that she’s been killing Bloodshots with a 100% record for (inferred) years. This is a new creation of Project Rising Sun and seemingly unstoppable. Yet, it is implied the character has a relationship to Bloodshot that may be pivotal to this story. It would be too easy to make straight line guesses here so expect, I think, some interesting twists.
Mico Suayan is back on artistic duties. Gone are the softer, more flowing lines of Lewis LaRosa to be replaced with Mico’s more defined and hyper-detailed style. Bloodshot is leaner under Mico’s guide, with the paneling more action-paced and less cinematic. It fits the story to perfection.
Helping Mico is David Baron on colours. His use of contrast between the silver skinned Bloodshots on pastel backdrops of green and yellow makes our subjects stand out. It also really pushes home the idea of jungle war conditions that you instantly link to Vietnam War movies. Again this adds to the confusion, agitation and general mayhem that Ray has awakened to.
Valiant have been pushing this story as an event, indeed the introduction of a new (and significant) villain is something all collectors look out for. That little sentence – Bloodshot Reborn #14, first appearance of Deathmate – could well result in frenetic excitement at Cons in the future. It’s even more satisfying when that introduction is part of a significant storyline. I can’t attest to whether this will be a success yet, but we have Project Rising Sun back in the frame, a window into the history of the Bloodshot program and a potential new antagonist all wrapped up in a homage to The Running Man. If that doesn’t have you salivating for more, then I honestly don’t know what will.
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The writer of this piece was: Andrew McGlinn
Andrew Tweets from @Jockdoom