By Todd Allen
Something that may have gotten lost in the shuffle of Comicon was the release of Bloodshot #1, the third title from Valiant’s relaunch. Valiant went raiding Marvel again for the creative team: Duane Swierczynski (Iron Fist, Cable, and more recently Birds of Prey) is the writer, Manuel Garcia (probably best known for runs on Raven and Checkmate) is penciling with Arturo Lozzi, Stefano Gaudiano (all sorts of Marvel titles… plus X-O Manowar) is inking.
The strange thing about Bloodshot is how close the concept is to Bloodstrike, which I reviewed not that long ago. Both characters are functionally immortal, nanite-powered super soldiers. Both of them work for government organizations that may not have their best interests at heart. Both of them are reboots from a 90s title.
Mind you, Bloodshot predates Bloodstrike in the original version. It’s just unusual reading the debuts of the two series a couple months apart. (I read a stack of Bloodstrike, so it was closer together for me.)
Bloodshot is not particularly new territory. The nanites have been done before. The government weapon with questionable handlers goes back quite a while. Heroes with memory problems have been done. Robocop was a definite analogue, for instance. Where this comic succeeds is in setting up shocks. As the book begins, a slightly cliched story is set-up. Not over the top cliched, but enough that you feel comfortable where things are going and the rug is pulled out from under you a few times. The pulling of the rug is blunter and with slightly more edge than in similar treatments. I’d say a little more brutal, but Harbinger is a sister-title and Bloodshot is not as hard-edged as Harbinger (though few are). Still, the edge is a little harder and perhaps a bit more emotional, a bit more grounded, than some of the others.
Bloodshot, at least in the first issue, seems to be straddling the lines between superhero, military adventure, science fiction and horror. Oh, sure — he’s a nanite-fueled killing machine but this feels more like cyborg take on Jason Bourne than a superhero book. Except this is a little more emotionally complicated than Bourne. The setting has the feeling of being grounded in reality, even if the main character is 15 minutes into the future. The mix works.
Issue #1 was primarily a set-up issue. The stage is set, the plot is started, but Bloodshot the hero has not emerged yet. Valiant’s taking the slow build with these first issues and it reminds me of the launch of the Ultimate line.
Worth checking out, though I suspect reading 2-3 issues of this one in one sitting might be more satisfying.
Todd Allen wears a lot of hats. At various times he’s been (alphabetically), a bouncer, college professor, humor columnist, Internet producer and an NBA/WNBA Beat Writer, among other things. He’s the author of Economics of Digital Comics. You should probably read it.