Publisher: Valiant Comics
Story: Zac Thompson, Lonnie Nadler
Script: Kevin Grevioux
Pencils: Ken Lashley
Finishes: Ryan Winn, Brian Thies, Oliver Borges
Colours: Diego Rodriguez
Letters: Simon Bowland
Release Date: 14th November 2018
Jeff Lemire’s four year run on Bloodshot is considered by many to be one of the best things to come out of the new age of Valiant. A tour de force of genres and concepts, moving book from psychological thriller to post-apocalyptic epic to time-bending drama, all while maintain strong, human themes of redemption, family and forgiving yourself enough to be able to move on.
Simply put, there are some massive shoes to fill here, and in their attempt to do just that, Zac Thompson, Lonnie Nadler and Kevin Grevioux are taking us back to the first days of the man who would become Bloodshot in an attempt to try to stamp their own mark on the character.
Exploring the origins that have intentionally been kept mysterious in this rebooted universe, the issue wastes no time in kicking off the tale of Angelo Mortalli, the man who would become Bloodshot. Taking place over the first weeks of his life as Bloodshot, this issue runs us through the fateful event that would lead to Mortalli being taken in by Project Rising Spirit. As far as first issues (and origin stories for that matter) go, it does a good enough job of establishing Mortalli’s life, Project Rising Spirit, the BLOODSHOT Project and how they plan on making him the man we’ve read about for the past however many years.
The problem is just how plain and straight-faced this origin story feels, especially on the heels of six years of crazy, unique and constantly changing stories that managed to feel epic and touching while still tackling the insane comic book elements of the universe. This issue simply tells a chronological tale, feeling almost like a dispassionate recap of events and lacking the additional flourish of previous Bloodshot stories. It also doesn’t really feel like it adds much to the character of Bloodshot, with only a few of the pages here actually dedicated to the life of Mortalli before PRS.
There’s hope this will become something more, with the jumping back and forth between Project Rising Spirit and life as Mortalli promising a more interesting insight into this character. However, for a first outing, this feels like a by-the-numbers origin story with action littered throughout to keep the pages turning. It isn’t bad per se, and feels like something that would have been a good addition to the canon circa 2012, but I can’t help but feel disappointed following on from Lemire’s run.
The art also feels like something of a mixed bag. Lashley does a great job with his distinct style, a style which fits in perfectly with the established Valiant aesthetic, but the finishing and colouring gives the book a flat, inexpressive look which at times seems almost unfinished – outside of visceral action scenes, of course.
Let me clarify: Bloodshot: Rising Spirit is by no means a bad book. It begins the process of filling in an important part of the Bloodshot story, and does so by featuring some of the events we may have been expecting prior to picking it up. But its by-the-numbers interpretation and simplistic presentation of the origin story makes the book feel a little more dated and less exciting than it deserves to be in 2018. Sure, it may blossom into a story that fits into the incredible blend of crazy and personal that Bloodshot is best known for, but for the time being Rising Spirit sadly isn’t a book I’m craving to return to immediately, unlike its predecessors.
The writer of this piece was: Connor Stephens
Connor Tweets from @diddlesMVP