By Jeff Lemire, Lewis LaRosa, Mico Suayan, Diego Rodriguez, and Brian Reber
Hallelujah – Salvation is upon us! Following its smash title debut, Bloodshot Salvation #2 hits hard and right in the feels while providing a visual feast.
Writer Jeff Lemire is crafting a large-scale story encompassing two timlines: the present, illustrated by Lewis LaRosa with colors by Diego Rodriguez, and the near future (roughly 6 years) as depicted by artist Mico Suayan and colorist Brian Reber. It’s a considerable undertaking but done well, with each story line given its due while remaining easy to differentiate and follow. For now, the two tales are mostly sovereign, but their connections will become more apparent as the story unfolds.
Bloodshot is often synonymous with action. Lemire’s piece has plenty of adrenaline-fueled scenes, but it’s balanced by the empathetic lead characters. Lemire has helmed the various Bloodshot titles over the last few years, and in that time, he has brought Ray’s humanity to the forefront. The battle scenes are exciting, but it’s the quiet moments of reflection that allow Ray to shine. We’ve seen Ray fight men, monsters, and inner demons. Now he’s wrestling with parental fears and the need to protect his family. In the future storyline, Ray is presumed dead, but Bloodshot lives on in his daughter. She is extraordinary, in abilities and capacity to cope. That last bit is due in part to Magic, who is no longer a hapless victim. She’s a mother and fierce protector. Seeing her evolve into a strong and capable woman after the events of Bloodshot Reborn is a relief and a pleasure. As we learn about the circumstances of her troubled past, this personal turnaround will likely become even more poignant.
Readers should appreciate the gem that Valiant has given us. This isn’t a typical high action story. Lemire lets his characters be more than their most basic roles of heroes, villains, and collaterals. The Bloodshot character could be reduced to super soldier, the scarred man to insane villain, and Jessie to a child that needs rescuing. Instead, Lemire takes us behind these most basic shells, investing readers in the lives of the characters and the purposes that drive them. The inverse depictions are compelling; Ray (Bloodshot) embracing his humanity and Jessie embracing her otherness. Even the uncertain and almost tender behavior of the scarred man is atypical. His Omen plot line will inevitably tie the two story timelines together, but we’re seeing him in a different, private light that will likely give his story more emotional wallop.
Speaking of wallop, the art in this book is phenomenal. LaRosa and Suayan both create finely detailed imagery. LaRosa’s present-day storyline encompasses the majority of the book. His work is outstanding, with energy and depth even in moments of stillness. His characters’ physicalities speak volumes in terms of attitude and mood while their detailed expressions make them better actors than most people. His work is an excellent accompaniment to a story that relies on using the art to reveal the emotional stimuli. Rodriguez’s painted coloring style greatly enhance LaRosa’s work, particularly in setting the tone. For example, there is a panel of Ray sitting in the nursery, watching his baby sleep. The softer color choices, lighter outlines with no true black, and the warm glow of the lighting give the scene a feeling of hush – just what one would expect in such a situation.
Suayan’s storyline depicts the future event involving Jessie as a child. He misses no detail, from the creases in clothing to the natural ridges in the roof of a mouth. His characters feel alive, and the panel layout adds to this feeling of movement and the largess of the action. You can easily imagine feeling the grip of a hand around an arm. In contrast to the softer edges of the present-day storyline, Suayan’s illustrations have a strong inked outline setting off the characters. Reber’s color reflects the literal heat of battle accompanied by fine highlight and lighting work that add dimension to the characters. Make no mistake, this is one of the best looking books on the market.
Have you heard the good word? Bloodshot Salvation #2 is superbly written and depicted. Other than a minor editorial error in the introduction, little fault can be found with this piece. This engaging book should not be missed. We’re highly anticipating the next chapter.