By Jeff Lemire, Tomas Giorello, Diego Rodriguez, and Andrew Dalhouse
Hot on the heels of last week’s release, Bloodshot Reborn is back at it again with issue #18. This soul-baring story is beautifully detailed and offers some of the most relatable moments yet.
In the aftermath of the events of “Bloodshot Island,” we learn the fate of the Bloodshot gang. The island destroyed and their freedom gained, the Bloodshots are set adrift, castaway-style. No land in sight. No food. No water. This story could be yet another battle for survival, but it’s not. It’s so much more.
Writer Jeff Lemire takes the story in a different direction, giving readers and Bloodshot a respite from the grueling action of the previous arc. This is a character-driven story, and while their efforts to stay alive are incorporated into the plot, the focus is on the individual Bloodshots.
Created in different eras for specific purposes, each Bloodshot has a unique history and identity. Despite their “programming,” none are privy to the others’ mission memories. One thing that all of the Bloodshots have in common is what they are – a tool. Made for war, they did the impossible and survived the impossible. Frequently viewed as monsters, even by their own selves, this story illuminates their humanity. Some chose to serve, others were drafted. We’re shown their war experience through their eyes, learning the history of most (but notably, not all) of the Bloodshots and feeling their respective patriotism, reluctance, or detachment. The result is profoundly personal and strips away the machine façade, showing us the men at their core.
And what an interesting bunch they are: Tank, Viet Man, Cold Man, Blood Hound, Desert Storm, and Ray. This story gives depth to the supporting characters and offers us another glimpse at the Ray we saw when he was with Magic – more man in thought and emotion than machine. Ray is at his most introspective here and realizes that even more important than his ability to stay alive, is that he has a reason to live. This gives him the determination he needs to overcome their treacherous predicament and take his war to PRS. This was a great segue for the upcoming Bloodshot U.S.A. event.
The art is stunning. Artist Tomas Giorello (War Mother) illustrates the story beautifully. His pencils are highly detailed, so much so that they don’t require inking. He skimps on nothing, even minor details in the background are given attention. Giorello’s tight pencils and cross-hatching techniques provide depth and substance to his scenes. Especially notable are the close ups and expressions of his characters. The set of a jaw and the pressed line of a lip project the emotion that makes this story personal and relatable.
Glorious coloring by Diego Rodriguez and Andrew Dalhouse make for a stunning final product. With no inking on the panels, color is applied over the pencils. The result is softer than inked pages, giving a painted look to the panels. The color appears airy, with natural hues but not heavy saturation. It is reminiscent of water color. Many times the color is subtle, such as that of the water, the sunsets, and forest, yet they add to the reflective tone of the story itself.
Bloodshot Reborn #18 gives an intimate look into the psyche of Ray and the other Bloodshots while still serving up its trademark action. This beautifully rendered story is a terrific lead-in to the Bloodshot U.S.A. event.