“Sometimes the only victory possible is to keep your opponent from winning…”
— The Emperor of Mankind, Warhammer 40,000
Bloodshot: Reborn #14 was very good; Bloodshot: Reborn #15 is even better. Part of what makes writer Jeff Lemire‘s work so strong is his ability to create long-term plans that surprise readers and fans many months later. As the series was launching in early 2015, Lemire clearly stated that he had stories already panned and written reaching far into the the series’ future. True to his word, readers are now seeing Lemire’s plans and vision unfold each month. Bloodshot: Reborn does not lack direction (a chronic problem with many other titles); it knows exactly where it is going, and what it is doing. Lemire systematically builds, develops, and expands the Bloodshot mythos and has taken a historically one-dimensional character and placed him as arguably Valiant Entertainment’s primer tier-one character.
Bloodshot: Reborn #15 is the second chapter of the “Bloodshot Island” story arc, and is loaded with characterization, action, suspense, and misdirection. While there are a few panels that clearly depict bloody gore, the story shines in that the vast majority of the action and death is occurring out of sight which leaves the reader to imagine what horrific death each character is experiencing. This creates a sense of suspense, similar perhaps to what was seen in the very first Predator (1986) movie where (**SPOILER**) the Predator kills the good guys one by one, but is not really seen up close until the end of the movie. As a result, it actually matters when the the antagonist (aka Deathmate) finally arrives, and the anticipation that has slowly built up over all of the previous pages finally reaches its boiling point, changes everything that readers know with a single name in the last panel, and leaves everyone with a cliffhanger.
Artist Mico Suayan‘s interior art is in a class all by itself. Suayan employes a complete mastery of the traditional cross-hatching technique to such a magnificently detailed degree that every aspect of the story is quite honestly about as realistically depicted as will ever be seen
on the pages of a comicbook. Additionally, Suayan uses Copic markers for Deathmate which creates a smooth, polished, and unreal
texture to the character which is a strong contrast against the rest of his work in each panel which is rendered traditionally. The result is that the setting and characters appear real; while Deathmate herself appears synthetic. This artistic choice makes perfect sense, achieves its intended purpose, and makes a visually fantastic book. Colorist David Baron has clearly chosen the right color scheme to compliment Suayan’s inks. As the story unfolds in a tropical island setting (as well as New Mexico), Barren uses natural earth-tones specific to each location to ensure each is visually believable and accurate. Of note, Barron correctly colors the golden ogive (tip) of the 40mm M433 High Explosive grenades which is often missed or ignored by many colorists. A small detail, most certainly; however, it is a strong indication that Baron (and Suayan) have both done their homework and cared enough to get this book right.
Bloodshot: Reborn #15 is arguably the most significant Bloodshot story published in recent history. It is a turning point in a series of turning points, and an issue that should not be missed.