Review – Bloodshot U.S.A. #1 (Valiant)

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Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Doug Braithwaite
Release Date: 26th October, 2016

Bloodshot USA has kicked off and it’s big, you can sense it already. Jeff’s run on Bloodshot has been predominantly character driven (which is not a complaint, far from it), but sometimes you just need to have some Bloodshot balls-to-the-wall action. We know Jeff can deliver on this, just check out part three of The Analogue Man. So it looks like it’s finally time to go big or go home, and Jeff has decided to bring the rain.

Naturally, for an event storyline we are treated to a few special appearances. I’m delighted to see Livewire, Ninjak and GN-GR take the stage alongside Ray and the Bloodshot Squad as GATE try to contain the outbreak on Manhattan. Of course, it wouldn’t be the same if the antagonist, the deliciously and singularly megalomaniacal Kozol, didn’t have an ace up his sleeve to throw a spanner in the works.

The odds are piling up against the Bloodshot Squad. Rescued from sea by Ninjak, they reach Manhattan as it falls deeper and deeper into the eye of the nanite virus storm. Meanwhile, the members of GATE fail to grasp quickly enough the significance of what is happening as Kozol enacts his coup d’etat. Kozol, quite brilliantly, pulls the strings of all those around him – including his fellow PRS board members, and the gravitas of his plan eventually becoming clear. Perhaps, just maybe, Magic and Agent Festival can escape the PRS complex while this surprise is taking place, but to do so they’d have to brave Manhattan, currently not the safest place on the planet.

Doug Braithwaite is back on art, having previously drawn Bloodshot in the previous two Valiant events; The Book of Death and 4001. I like that; there is a nice symmetry to this as we’re kick-starting ‘The Future of Valiant’ event that will play out over the close of 2016. It’s a personal joy, but I appreciate special little touches like this, and it’s something I think Valiant does well that sets itself apart from the big two.

Fans of Valiant will need no introduction to Doug’s art, and while the penciled style he has used to draw Bloodshot is not a particular favourite of mine, I cannot deny its quality. What I do admire, and I’ve mentioned this before reviewing Doug’s art, are his panel layouts. The sense of panic and action in his scenes on the Manhattan streets really convey the desperation of the situation, and the paneling is erratic enough to help emphasise this without becoming a distraction (or being hard to follow). I also love the way he’s drawn GN-GR, he looks terrific.

So it’s a bittersweet pill the start of Bloodshot USA. Jeff’s swansong into the world of Bloodshot begins and there is a sense of finality in the telling of this story. The impression that things are not going to be the same after the conclusion is evident, and in what direction Bloodshot (and the Valiant universe) will go is anyone’s guess. Every story arc, from Colorado to Bloodshot Island has been leading up to this and you can feel the strands of the storylines tying together here, but who knows what the final picture will reveal. One thing I’m sure I can confirm, it couldn’t be more fitting that the final stage of Ray’s regenisis – under the watchful eye of Jeff Lemire – is kicking off an event that is titled The Future of Valiant. I can’t wait to find out what happens next….

Rating: 4/5.

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13043453_10154167818863408_9180033184388957427_nThe writer of this piece was: Andrew McGlinn
Andrew Tweets from @Jockdoom.

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