Jeff Lemire, Ray Fawkes, Michel Fiffe, Kano, Joe Bennett, Jay Fabares, Belardino Brabo, Ray Fawkes, Benjamin Marra, Pete Pantazis, Jose Villarrubia
This oversized annual of short stories is full of surprises and more than a few nods and winks.
Hitting shelves on March 23rd, this oversized 64-page book – 64! – consists of four short stories by multiple contributors, including lead Bloodshot Reborn writer Jeff Lemire and standout artist Kano. These short stories allow for a variety of creative approaches. There’s something for everyone: action, sci-fi, humor, and no shortage of artistic styles. It’s a Bloodshot jam piece, and well worth the extra dollar cover price.
Since these stories are not part of the current Reborn arc, readers should expect the unexpected from the very first panel. Lemire’s lead-off story dominates the book. Readers will undoubtedly enjoy the nods to a classic urban legend, now intertwined with the Bloodshot legacy. Timelines are murky, but given the clues in the text, this story occurs before Bloodshot broke away from Project Rising Spirit. There are a few revealing details that tie the action in this story into that later Bloodshot volume 1 arc. The artwork by Kano showcases his talent at illustrating action. There’s some spectacular visible sound effects interlaced with the action and some stunning silhouettes, all of which add to the impact and brutality of the story.
Keeping this as spoiler-free as possible, the second story is a big poke in the eye with plenty of laughs. There are winks and nods everywhere, from the credits to the story itself. It’s a fun narrative with some very unexpected appearances. The art and the color are bold, with multiple contributors including Valiant’s media and cover artist, Jay Fabares, bringing their talents together to create a synergetic piece.
Next up is a companion piece to Lemire’s opening salvo. Written and illustrated by Ray Fawkes, this story leaves behind the tongue-in-cheek silliness of the second story. Sensitive and solitary, it serves as an answer to some lingering questions. The story is told from the perspective of the protagonist while Fawkes’ artwork echoes this state of mind, employing an ethereal watercolor look. The shift in mood compared to the previous story couldn’t be more prominent, but it was not disruptive.
Closing out the Annual is a story that harkens back to the original ’90s Bloodshot, both in appearance and in tone. Created by Fiffe and Marra, along with colors by Villarrubia, this outlandish tale will appeal to the sci-fi lovers. There’s a bit of a lesson in it as well, once you look beyond the science fiction aspect. The piece has an indie feel to it, likely due to Marra’s direction.
Bloodshot Reborn Annual 2016 #1 might not be what readers are expecting, especially those who are deeply invested into the current Reborn series. Still, it’s a fun extension of the Bloodshot world, and with the diverse creative directions, there’s something for everyone. Don’t be a Squirt – pick this book up!