Written by Duane Swierczynski
Pencils by Manuel Garcia with Arturo Lozzi
Inks by Stefano Gaudiano
32 pages, color
Published by Valiant Entertainment
Bloodshot was one of the books at Valiant that I rapidly decided wasn’t for me; feeling very much like a standard shoot-em-up series, there was never quite the hook needed to make it stand out in my eyes. I was a little surprised, then, for it to be one of the first properties to come back from the new Valiant Entertainment. (Although at least it wasn’t the nondescript H.A.R.D. Corps, perhaps the one Valiant series that no one is clamoring to see revived.) Now that I’ve read Bloodshot #1, though? Well, credit to where it’s due, this version definitely seems more interesting.
Like X-O Manowar and Harbinger, Bloodshot #1 takes the basic ideas from the original series from the early ’90s and recasts it in the present. Bloodshot is the ultimate soldier, a man pumped full of nanites that continually rebuild his body so that he’s an unstoppable killing machine, while continually reprogrammed with new identities for the perfect drive to succeed in each scenario. And while what little I remember about the original Bloodshot included the idea of the title character trying to discover his identity and memories, Duane Swierczynski takes that idea and makes it feel much more substantial as we get to see Bloodshot actually go through a mission that hits close to home for him (rescuing a soldier who had once rescued him), only to have everything suddenly collapse when the truth is revealed.
And while Bloodshot #1 is still high on the violent black-ops level of death and explosions, once that revelation came in, it felt like Bloodshot transformed into a different book than it initially felt like. There’s no doubt in my mind that this will still be a very violent book, what with Manuel Garcia penciling several times poor Bloodshot getting pumped full of bullets and/or blown up, but at least for now Swierczynski is giving us a thread moving in a slightly different direction. I like the idea of the book being at least in part Bloodshot trying to figure out who he really is, and having a direct look into one of the many fake lives that they mapped onto his brain somehow makes that quest more substantial. But don’t get me wrong, the military aspect is still front and center in Bloodshot #1. Swierczynski actually plays with this idea in a more inventive way than I’d expected to see; after all, this is a soldier whom you can’t kill, so it makes sense that this is a title where the main character is inserted into hostile environments in a rather unique manner. It’s a dark comedy moment, but I chuckled when I saw it play out, and I’d certainly like to see more of this way of thinking through all the implications of an ever-rebuilding tool of war.
Garcia’s pencils are rugged and substantial; Bloodshot looks genuinely dangerous as he infiltrates and shoots his way through his surroundings, and not just because he’s muscular or holding a weapon. Part of Bloodshot‘s core idea is that Bloodshot himself is a weapon, and I think that Garcia’s the one who sold me on that notion. I liked that he’s never too buff looking or jacked up; after all, he doesn’t need to be, because he just won’t ever stop. The character design of the original Bloodshot is carried through here, and I’m glad to see that no one felt the need to mess with it; the pale skin with minimal color (red eyes and a circle on the chest; jet black hair on the top of his head) is a striking image and Garcia handles it well. I’m guessing that Arturo Lozzi is responsible for the pencils for Bloodshot’s fake memories, and it’s a great idea; it’s a much more smooth and slick looking visual, and it serves as a perfect contrast between the manufactured fake world and the reality of where Bloodshot is.
I might not have ever gotten into the original Bloodshot, but this first issue has me interested enough to warrant picking up issue #2. I want to see just where this will progress; it’s a strong debut issue, one that I can’t help but feel will appeal to both old readers and new ones. All in all, a strong start.