Come one, come all to another group review from Comic Bastards. If this is your first time around these parts then allow us to explain. Each of the participating reviewers will give their score and their thoughts (which are more important) about the issue. Up today is Bloodshot Reborn #1, but let’s get a quick synopsis.
Bloodshot’s nanites made him a nearly unstoppable killing machine. His enhanced strength, speed, endurance, and healing made him the perfect weapon, and he served his masters at Project Rising Spirit – a private contractor trafficking in violence – very well.
I've never read any Bloodshot comics before. I've seen the character, but I knew nothing about him. This comic gave me all the necessary back-story to understand who he was and is. Coming into this with fresh eyes I'm not hampered by comparison to any of the previous comics.
The artwork is great. The characters are all drawn really well. I particularly liked the panel of Toby with a kind of evil grin. One panel didn't go over well though and that was the one where something bad happens in a news flash and our reborn Bloodshot covers his mouth with his hand. I've never seen a grown man cover his mouth in surprise, so for me this felt either very feminine (which doesn't vibe with the rest of his portrayal) or just breaks the reality of the book.
The writing is good, like I said I knew nothing going in and by the time I finished I felt like I had a good grip on bloodshot. That said there is a lot of info-dumping. I feel like there's a misprinted line in one of the panels, 'she lives with a twelve-year old grandson', and her grandson? Someone else’s? (It’s not a big thing I just wanted to point it out). Reading through this issue I would definitely check out the next.
I’ve never really been too into Valiant’s universe except for some of the newer Shadowman stuff. Those biases aside and knowing I’m not a fan of Bloodshot, for what this comic is it’s very good. You can’t really go wrong with Jeff Lemire’s writing and this issue proves to be no exception. I can imagine if it were many other writers I would’ve been preoccupied with the fact that I’m not a fan of this character to begin with, but Lemire’s storytelling made me much more invested into Bloodshot’s human side.
The very emotional and psychological look into Ray was very interesting to me and is more captivating than an invincible killing machine. The art also gave a great look into the emotion like the vibrant look of Kay when Ray is talking about when he met her, and you can feel the realization of the tragedy in Bloodshot’s eyes when she dies. The added cartoony psychotic version of Bloodshot was very clever, as sometimes the craziest place can be inside your own head.
I’ll be very honest, Bloodshot Reborn #1 wasn’t what I was expecting. I really didn’t know what to expect, but this issue takes a step back from all the other Bloodshot stories that have been told with the character since the Valiant relaunch. Rather than guns blazing and bodies hitting the floor or the constant struggle of discovering who he is, Bloodshot now faces the difficult task of dealing with what he’s become.
Lemire takes a look at what it means to be a man that’s killed thousands and is now left with the silence of a normal life. And it’s deep. It’s a bit maddening and in some ways ruins the character. Because here’s the thing, he’s not going to stay like this. He’ll become Bloodshot again and when he does how are we as the reader to ever celebrate his taking another life again, no matter how shitty the person he’s killing is. While it’s solid writing, it’s not very well suited to the new Valiant Universe and pushes the character in to realm of problems that Marvel and DC’s characters are constantly facing. Too much reality injected in the fantasy to the point that you have to start calling bullshit on the fantasy.
Bloodshot is a killing machine and not a heartless one, but he gets the job done. Now he’s a former killing machine looking at the memories of all those he’s killed. But we don’t know who he’s killed and frankly there’s no weight to those deaths because it’s a comic book. It’s fantasy now bogged down by reality and while this works usually, here it’s too much of a step away from what makes the character fundamentally work.
I almost bumped my score due to the art, but I couldn’t ignore the issue that this story was driving down a road that would turn Bloodshot into a beyond flawed character (cough like Wolverine) instead of being something better (cough like Punisher with real powers). But seriously the art is fucking fantastic and I almost gave it a higher score because of how damn good it is.
Back in the day, I was aware of Bloodshot, but I had only read an issue here or there, never quite committing to one of Valiant Comics signature bad asses. I always liked the issues that I read though. And the look of the man himself is one that sticks in your brain and resonates for a while. He is quite unique for sure. Bloodshot is still one of my favorite cosplay characters that I see because it takes a very special man (or lady) to play this all white skin, red eyes, red spotted chest killing machine of a character. You have to bring it to play it.
Unfortunately, Valiant disappeared for a bit and Bloodshot with it. But since its big re-launch, I have wolfed up everything that they have released, very impressed with the new offerings. The Valiant folks have come back with much of their A game in place. And it shows in the highly stylized, well written multilayered characters that have returned to the printed page.
So naturally, when Bloodshot Reborn was advertised with one of my favorite writers Jeff Lemire tied to it, I knew that I wanted to give it a go. Real glad that I did, but not in the way that I had originally thought that I would. Lemire’s writing is sound. But where I got my biggest plus was in the intensely and emotionally powerful art of Mico Suayan. His detail outdid even the best that Lemire could offer up in this opening issue. It was extraordinarily well done and makes you turn each page with gusto.
In regard to Lemire’s scripting, I think he did a good enough job in explaining lots of backstory in a small amount of space to a new reader who might be a neophyte to the nanites and what they are all about. Lemire who is always good with the writing of characters with regret and anguish, spares our former killing machine no mercy in depicting what he has become since the nanites were removed from his body. At best, it is simple survival for him. But at worst, it is pure freaking misery. As the writing progresses and Suyan’s art blows it away, it becomes very hard to tell what is real and what is not. Great job to all and things settle up like a cold splash of water to the face when this issue comes to a close. It gets very real
All in all, this is a strong start to what looks like it will be a good title and yet another feather in the Valiant cap. I am certainly looking forward to reading more. Though not mind blowing, I give it a recommend. Well worth spending your hard earned money. And it should only get better as lots of unknowns are at work. Plenty of room to develop and grow.
Bloodshot Reborn is a necessary step of Valiant's current re-launch of sorts. I think it succeeds in placing Bloodshot in the context of the new world of Valiant; but, in constructing the new post-powers Bloodshot, it feels a lot like Wolverine, except with ten times more whining. I sort of expected Bloodshot to start yelling "JEEEEAN!!!!" at some point. As for the visuals, usually the gritty realistic style in comics bugs me, and initially this issue was no different. Then, Bloodsquirt showed up, and I thought it really heightened the creepy and humorous effect that his appearance had by contrast.
Overall I thought the issue was just ok because it was plagued by what happened prior to this issue. Obviously that's exactly what bothers Bloodshot, but I think it will bother the reader too: this issue suffers because it has to be a bridge between developments in the Valiant universe and new events going forward. It's just a pet peeve of mine, especially with the cost of comics these days that I should have to be eased into a plot and wait for the momentum to pick up after a first issue. I guess if you are committed to your love of Bloodshot, though, none of this really matters.
Here more about Bloodshot Reborn #1 this week's CBMFP