By Jeff Lemire, Mico Suayan and David Baron
“Who was Bloodshot? Bloodshot was death.”
The wait is over and the epic next chapter in the life of Bloodshot is finally here and, well, it’s kind of a rough patch for ol’ Bloodshot. After the events of The Valiant #4, the status quo, as it were, has drastically changed for our take-no-prisoners killer and after the first volume of Bloodshot, maybe drastic doesn’t really begin to cover what writer Jeff Lemire has done.
Lemire, who also co-wrote The Valiant, has gone and done something major and turned Bloodshot, or Ray as he’s calling himself these days, into half the man he was—maybe with “man” being the key component there. We’re seeing a broken, beaten and grossly unprepared for the real world character who’s lost all sense of direction and meaning in his life, whether he chooses to fully admit that or not. In this… transformative time in his life, Ray has adopted several new vices just to cope with the every day, or more accurately every night, struggle to maintain some semblance of sanity and normalcy. Lemire, who quite frankly is a damn superstar, paints a bleak portrait; Ray has some new friends, whether they’re symptoms or something else, and it’s very possible that they might not have his best interest in mind.
The length of time Mico Suayan has had to work on this issue (upwards of a year, if memory serves) more than shows in his work on the page. The detail of the characters, their expressions and just the overall look, is something that is certainly a rarity in today’s monthly comic market. Mico is one of those special artists that might not be the fastest, but he’s for damn sure one of the best. Bloodshot Reborn, as a result, has a look all its own that separates it from other books in the Valiant line and it really sets itself apart. Not having a “house style”, per se, plays extremely well here for Valiant and it really opens itself up to a much broader audience. Taking into account everything that’s come before Bloodshot Reborn, it’s very possible that this book is easily within the top three for best looking and all bias aside, Mico’s work is as close to flawless as you’ll ever see.
Add to that the signature Lemire character work (yes, Lemire gets to draw a character as well) and you’ve got something beyond great. The fact that Lemire has chosen to draw this character just amplifies the point that he’s trying to get across here and that’s the mental struggle going on within Ray’s mind as he attempts to deal with a whole mess of things that’s he’s never had to deal with or experience before. Plus (yeah, there’s more) you have David Baron’s fantastical color slinging’ skills as the oh-so-gorgeous cherry on top. Seriously, this guy, who’s quickly becoming the Valiant colorist (behind Valiant vet Brian Reber) can do no wrong. Just look at that page right there… yes, just above the text and to the right. You see that page? That is a relatively minimal color palette used for maximum effect and absolutely amplifying Mico’s pencil and ink work to a level you might not expect was possible. This guy is good and he’s certainly one to keep you eye on, if you aren’t already. Hey Valiant, let’s get more David Baron!
It’s hard to see such a badass, shoot first, ask questions later kind of character brought so low, but damned if it doesn’t make for one hell of a compelling read. Flipping everything on its head completely works here and makes a character that might have been viewed as fairly straightforward before into something so much more. Even if, by some miracle (good or bad, depending on view point) we get the old Bloodshot back, this is certainly going to impact him in a big way going forward. In a world of unreal, alien suits and people with the ability to do anything they want with just their minds, it’s nice to have a story brought back down to earth like this. Lemire is more than the right man for the job and if you haven’t been reading Bloodshot now is certainly the right time.
Bloodshot Reborn is a starting point for anybody, even if you’ve never read anything Valiant before. The art is phenomenal, it’s a real feeling story and there is so much more in store for this character that you’d be a damn fool to miss it.