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Divinity III: Komandar Bloodshot #1

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By Jeff Lemire, Clayton Crain, Matt Kindt, Juan Jose Ryp, Andrew Dalhouse

The first tie-in story to Valiant Entertainment’s Divinity miniseries arrives with Divinity III: Komandar Bloodshot #1. With its devastating storyline, this excellent book hits the target like a cruise missile.

Bloodshot Reborn writer Jeff Lemire brings us a story of a Bloodshot under the sway of the Soviet Union in the new Stalinverse reality. The tale is pulse-pounding from the first panel to the last as “Komandar” Bloodshot takes on a cell of insurgents deemed a threat to the state.

There are plenty of nods to the previous Bloodshot and Bloodshot Reborn series.  Long-time fans may recall the guided missile system used by PRS to transport Bloodshot to mission zones. Lemire revives that tradition, this time making the hot zone take place deep in the Rocky Mountains in a nod to the “Colorado” arc.

Also on board is a veritable who’s who of the Bloodshot title along with a couple of surprise appearances. If you’ve managed to avoid previews and spoilers, this cast will have your jaw dropping. Making it even more fun is the reimagining of the characters in these extreme circumstances.  Some of these updates will pleasantly surprise you as the world as you know it is turned on its ear.

Panel after panel brings gnarly action, to the point that your blood will be pounding in your ears as the battle builds to climax. But by using a familiar stable of characters, Lemire is able to make this more than an action thriller, adding richness to the story through depth of character. This makes their actions poignant and the story more personal. There is a sense of desperation and determination to the tale. Readers know what to expect when Bloodshot is sent in, but this time we get the perspectives of both sides. The underlying sense of camaraderie amongst the “insurgents” is appealing, and their loyalty to each other and to their cause outshines Bloodshot’s fealty to Mother Russia. The ending harkens back to the first book in the main Divinity III event and offers new potentialities.

Artist Clayton Crain, well-known for his iconic vision of Valiant’s futuristic Rai, displays his adaptability by creating a beautiful natural landscape. His mountainous snow-packed forests are stunning, and their quiet magnificence make a perfect canvas for the stark shock of Bloodshot’s battle scenes. Crain does a terrific job depicting the action. Gnarly doesn’t even begin to cover the physical devastation, and it engenders an emotional response as well. This is an adrenaline-charged story aided by the fluidity of Crain’s characters. The overall effect is cinematic.

But wait – there’s more!

“The Origin of the Red Legend” is a secondary story from writer Matt Kindt and the art team of Juan Jose Ryp and Andrew Dalhouse. This is our first introduction to a powerful new character who is a member of the Red Brigade – the Soviet Union’s security force. Not much is known yet about the group, but it is likely comparable to team Unity, only in this case, serving Mother Russia.

Kindt gives us the history of Nina, aka the Red Legend, at least what is known of it. Her true origin is somewhat of a mystery and is undoubtedly the source of her power. We’re told some of her abilities but others are merely hinted at, leaving the door open for surprises down the road. The audience relates to Nina through her favorite parable, making the final panel even more character defining.

Nina is an admirable character who, despite the harsh circumstances of her early life, has a protective streak and a sense of community. She seems to be true heroine material, regardless of her service to the oppressive government. This service may be out of duty not to the state but to her people. It will be interesting to see how this character will react if faced with the opportunity for freedom.

Artist Juan Jose Ryp and colorist Andrew Dalhouse bring the Red Legend to life. Ryp’s character is distinctive in appearance, at times showing vulnerability and at others a fierce formidability. His final panel is an iconic look. Dalhouse’s colors are muted yet earthy, and the final reveal of the Red Legend is warm and vibrant, befitting of her title.

Divinity III: Kamandar Bloodshot #1 is an absolute must. It is an accompaniment to the main Divinity III event, but the book shines on its own. It’s a gut-wrenching story with the added bonus of an introduction to a powerful new Valiant heroine.

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