By Jeff Lemire, Doug Braithwaite, Brian Reber
Massive destruction and an ever-spreading infection among the populace make Bloodshot U.S.A. #2 one of the most thrilling offerings on the shelf. Add in its character depth and excellent artwork, and you’ve got a sure-fire hit.
Bloodshot U.S.A. is a four-part event spinning out of the Bloodshot Reborn title. What makes this truly an event and not just another arc is the scale of the storyline and the ramifications. The story incorporates the larger Valiant universe, pulling in characters from titles such as Unity and Ninjak, and the events of this story relate directly back to 2014’s The Valiant. The ramifications of this story are huge. Other than the obvious fallout from domestic terrorism, there is the matter of the future of P.R.S., the Bloodshot squad, and the Geomancer. The fate of several other characters hangs in the balance as well.
In something akin to World War Z, the Bloodshot nanite virus is overrunning the population. Engineered by P.R.S. at the behest of its executive officer, Kozol, this infection is his attempt to push the relevancy and need for P.R.S. weaponry – aka it’s next-gen Bloodshot, Deathmate. Kozol being Kozol, he went ahead with the project without approval from his board of directors, then blatantly ignored their objections when he took his experiment to the next level. When NYC is overrun, team Unity responds – and fails. The Bloodshot squad is en route, and with threats both inside and outside his headquarters, Kozol’s plan may fail.
Kozol’s fail-safe is his belief that he can control the nanites and Deathmate. But what happens when the fail-safe fails to be safe? Readers of the 2012 Bloodshot title may recall an instance in Bloodshot’s past regarding grey-goo – and know the very real danger of the nanites getting out of hand. Writer Jeff Lemire has done an outstanding job with his run on Bloodshot Reborn, repeatedly surprising readers with plot twists. We’re only half-way through this event, so expect the unexpected. Lemire has already thrown the first monkey-wrench into the fray. Without spoiling the events of this issue, let it suffice to say that the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry – especially Kozol’s, if history has anything to say about it.
In the midst of all of the frenzied, oversized action – and there is plenty of gnarly fighting for the action lovers – the quieter moments stand out. Lemire creates additional depth for some of the characters. The scenes between Magic and Festival are poignant and perhaps a bit foreshadowing.
Lemire provides a few surprises as well. The ending is superb and will have fans anxious to discover where he’s taking these characters next.
Artist Doug Braithwaite contributes his top-notch story-telling skills to the issue. Good panel flow, expressive characters, and natural, fluid body movements are hallmarks of his work. There are some large-scale mob scenes in this book, and Braithwaite handles them with aplomb, defining the magnitude and scope of the scene yet focusing the eye on critical details. He also has the opportunity for scenes with a bit of levity in them, such as a character casually carrying their own arm. There is another iconic panel that’s sure to be used in Valiant fan memes. You’ll know it when you see it. Colorist Brian Reber adds his signature flair to the book. Reber is a detailed colorist – even in mob scenes, you can see the attention given to every aspect of the panel, such as clothing and hair. Of note is how the color makes the reader feel – there is a palpable temperature to his work. Battle scenes are red, orange, and hot, upping your pulse during the “heat of battle”, while scenes in a removed technical environment are cooly colored and feel detached and aloof. The art in this book works well and enhances the story.
Bloodshot U.S.A. #2 is a doozy. The exciting storyline, character building, and some surprise reveals make this a must-read.