By Jeff Lemire, Doug Braithwaite, and Brian Reber
Last week’s Book of Death #1 was without a doubt a treasure trove of information and Easter eggs for Valiant fans, and this week’s Book of Death: The Fall of Bloodshot #1 continues that tradition by bringing us one of the most different and interesting stories starring Bloodshot since the Valiant reboot. Be forewarned that while this will prove to be enjoyable for all fans, those of you who have been reading Valiant for the past couple of decades are in for a treat.
Many fans tend to avoid reading previews for books at the chance that they may be spoiled as to the contents of a book, and while that may often be the case, it is most certainly not the case here. With that in mind, a review of this book without discussing some of the spoilers therein would simply not do it justice.
The majority of Book of Death: The Fall of Bloodshot #1 is told in narrative form which may not work well for some readers, but something in which writer Jeff Lemire generally excels, and it shows in the final product. The book reads basically like a future history of Bloodshot as we witness what he does through various time periods. The time frame for each of these events is not evidently clear, but it would certainly seem to begin at least a few years into our future and last for the good part of 1000 or more years.
This story is, of course, told entirely through Bloodshot’s eyes as he undergoes this timeless hero’s journey while showing readers some of the aftershocks of events hinted at in Book of Death #1 and certainly in other books to come. It’s great to see that Bloodshot remains pretty much in the background throughout these events all the while playing an important role in shaping some of the outcome. Bloodshot is, after all, a loner, and that is a point that is clearly established throughout this issue. There are times when we might think that there is some redemption still for Bloodshot, particularly when he is found by an Inuit tribe somewhere in the Arctic circle and he learns to form very strong friendships and family bonds, only to have it all taken away from him. It is certainly tragic, but that is the kind of hero Bloodshot is, and certainly the aspect which has made the current Bloodshot: Reborn series one of the finest uses of the character in over 20 years.
Doug Braithwaite’s art is really on point in this book, showing us some of the best pencil work I’ve seen from him in years. Without a doubt, he was given ample time to work on this event and it clearly shows. From the pirate sea battle, to Bloodshot’s space travels, to the scenes in the future, each panel is beautifully illustrated with a very solemn and somber atmosphere which is fitting of both the character and the type of story Lemire has chosen to tell.
So yes, you read that correctly – pirate sea battles. Are you ready for some Easter eggs? The book begins with Bloodshot aboard a pirate ship with his buddy Armstrong (!) fighting an opposing force – Rampage. Readers of the classic Valiant universe will without a doubt remember Rampage’s story as a recurring scourge for Bloodshot and it also happens to be some memorable issues for me – my favorite issues being those illustrated by the legendary Batman artist Norm Breyfogle of course. If you’ve been reading Bloodshot Reborn you will not doubt have already seen hints as to what may come so I’m looking forward to seeing Rampage’s return.
Speaking of Easter eggs, when Bloodshot is kidnapped from his home with the Inuit and taken into space to fight, there are some interesting revelations:
The crew explained that the battlefield was on one of the distant worlds Earth had colonized after the Psi-Lords returned…I wondered if my people have even be alive whenever I made it back to Earth. And all to fight another war. But then again, this was no ordinary war…these were THE ROBOT WARS.
In just a couple of lines of narrative, Lemire not only confirmed the imminent return of the Psi-Lords, but hinted at an event some may remember from the original run of Magnus, Robot Fighter, the Malev Wars. Valiant has done a terrific job updating their properties while finding innovative ways to replace those they no longer own (see the new take on Rai as well as the recent Divinity miniseries) so the events in these few panels really have me excited for what the future holds (even if I may have to wait until 4003).
Overall, Book of Death: The Fall of Bloodshot #1 is a perfect companion book not just to this summer’s event, but also to the mythos of Bloodshot itself. With emotional storytelling and beautifully illustrated pages, this will certainly stand out as one of the finest Bloodshot stories to date. How does Bloodshot fall? Pick this up now and find out!