(Valiant Entertainment, 2013)
Review by Cory Thrall
WRITTEN BY: Matt Kindt
ARTWORK BY: Chrisscross
COLOR ARTWORK BY: Moose Baumann
LETTERING BY: Dave Sharpe
I’ve completely enjoyed the new Bloodshot title from issue #1, onto the newest issue, and now to the origin story (of sorts) that is #0. This title has been a great mixture of action and personal drama, as a hardened soldier programmed to be the ultimate killing machine (and then some) deals with becoming his own person, his own identity and personality. And to be free of Project Rising Spirit’s control - the company that created him. It’s been a perfectly fine mix of these emotions, and makes you actually care about a character that could easily be a one sided action hero in a simple ‘shoot-em-and-blow-em-up’ title. Bloodshot may be a self-repairing science experiment in a mercenary’s body, but this title plays just as well as a drama piece as it does anything else. Either way you want to say it, it’s been a fun read and a great ride along with Bloodshot and his growing awareness of himself.
Issue #0 starts out with what seems to be a mostly innocent journal/narration form of storytelling, as we learn in pieces how the beginnings of Bloodshot’s creation went from phase to growing phase - all from the Doctor who was a large part of the program. This approach makes the book instantly readable, and the tone of the narration brings you right into the Doctor’s character and emotions, as well as motivations. When I picked this book up, I hadn’t expected such a telling, and found it refreshing, interesting, and nothing like I would have thought. The emotional weight the Doctor’s ‘voice’ brings to this is a wonderful mark on a (as mentioned) drama-filled action title. It feels and fits perfectly as this comic is usually as introspective in the main title as it is here. Bloodshot is not your average killing-machine. He has heart, empathy, and - for the most part - a well grounded sense of self that is pretty much the main theme throughout.
We learn about the stages the project went through, from simple mindless throw-away soldiers, to an (awesome looking) Vietnam soldier, and on into the early 1990’s. The Doctor is brought on rather late in the game, and is tasked with fixing the main problem with the program at that time - Bloodshot’s unwavering need to obliterate anyone that could possibly endanger his missions in any way - be them fighting soldiers or a pile of innocent women and children. Having no control over this aspect of the Bloodshot program, the Doctor is brought in, tasked with giving him a conscience, and only just enough of one to limit his actions to strictly the mission and targets he was sent to take down. The Doctor (who is never named) has a different idea and, after seeing many a soldier die before him during his work, he decides to attempt giving Bloodshot a form of ‘soul’.
As the work continues, Project Rising Spirit found a way to pull a dying soldier’s mind and placing it into Bloodshot’s head, thus giving him the full life memory, experiences, and remembered loved ones of the deceased by recording them with the very nanites that make up Bloodshot’s person (giving him all of his tricks from regeneration down to hidden ‘powers’ revealed later, and even more). Fast forward a few years, and we come across a Black Ops looking team that is in the middle of an unexplained mission. They quickly take out their two targets and high-tail it to the evac copter. As they begin to rise up and leave, another man appears on a rooftop, rocket launcher in hand. He quickly blows the helicopter out of the sky, and as it crashes to the ground we see the main lead of the Black Ops team being flung from the burning vehicle. He’s attacked by angered civilians on the ground, and is left a barely living pile of human mess. The PRS team scoop him up, and he becomes the newest Bloodshot project. Except this time - with the help of the Doctor - they got it right. The “how” of the story is gold, so I won’t spoil more of the issue here.
The artwork and writing in this is at the usual level of perfection that permeates the rest of Valiant’s line-up, and is a beautiful book to look at as well as read. While not having many chances for panel-to-panel visual storytelling - due to the way it’s told, not by fault of the artist - the look and feel of everything is realistically done. The visuals are strong and heavy. The writing concise and with enough character in the narration to make the whole package work.
The story and growing mythology of Bloodshot is brought to a much clearer light with this, and that’s exactly what things like an issue #0 should do. While obviously aimed at retailers already into the book, it’s also an alright jumping on point for anyone interested, even if it is seriously lacking in the explanation of Bloodshot and how he works. It may not have the meat and full flavor of the regular issues, and in a lot of ways isn’t really close, but it does give a good layout for how it all began. It’s really more like a preview trailer for non-readers. Of course, the initial issues of the title explain how Bloodshot and his nanites work to a much more satisfying degree but - again - I feel this is mostly for people already reading the book, anyway. If you’re a non-reader and are curious, I’d suggest grabbing this and at least the first issue, as well. This is one of my current favorite comics on the shelves, and I feel it deserves the fans it has and much more.
So, from us here at Bag & Bored, I’d say “BAG IT!” just simply based on the fact that it’s such a good peek into what made Bloodshot who he is today - a mindless soldier turned man, on a mission to find himself and become comfortable with the world around him. In a weird way, it’s a perfect analogy for life and growing older. So go buy it!
Follow Cory Thrall on Twitter: @FeralFang27