By Jeff Lemire, Mico Suayan, Diego Rodriguez
The excellent Bloodshot Salvation is back, this time with a little sympathy for the devil.
After an absolutely brutal previous issue, Bloodshot Salvation #4 keeps the pressure on with a startlingly tragic backstory involving the scarred man.
The scarred man, as seen in previous issues, is heading up Omen, the successor to Project Rising Spirit. The group thus far has been living up to its namesake. The seizing of PRS assets, negligence leading to the inadvertent murder of Ray, the attempted capture of Jessie –all Omen skullduggery at its finest.
We’re only a few issues into this title, which up till now has been telling its narrative in two time periods: the present and the near future. The first three issues focused on Ray, Magic, and their child Jessie, with the major reveal of Rampage. We’ve also seen the fallout from PRS’s extreme misstep, and the subsequent takeover by Omen. There is still much we don’t know.
Writer Jeff Lemire has teased out bits regarding Omen’s scarred man. This book provides some poignant history on the enigmatic figure, and manages to elicit empathy from readers in the process. Lemire’s efforts go a long ways towards creating a multi-dimensional character and giving readers insight into the character’s actions. The scarred man is by no means a highly moral man, but neither is he a flat, evil caricature. This particular story cements him as a complex character.
There’s been plenty of fan theories as to the identity of the man living in the basement at the scarred man’s rural home. All is revealed in this story. This book is more than an origin story, setting into motion actions that will affect the overall storyline. It’s a tale of tragedy and survival, but there is no redemption. Lemire is serving up manipulation and betrayal of trust. One hopes that “just desserts” will be on the menu as well.
Artist Mico Suayan along with colorist Diego Rodriguez give the story dimension. This book looks amazing. Suayan’s detailed line work and use of strong contrast in values creates a depth that makes his subjects seem as if they could step out of the pages. He has a good sense of balance both in design and in story-telling, knowing when to keep the elements simple versus creating visual chaos to match the story’s intent. The panel work is done well with several outstanding instances of using overlaid panels and broken borders to add drama to the story. He also does the near impossible, giving a previously reprehensible character vulnerability and humanity in the space of one panel. The placement of that aforementioned panel is especially cutting given what happens next in the story.
Rodriguez’s colors add emotional depth. He keeps to a mostly neutral color scheme that matches the tone of the story as well as its setting. His use of light and shadows is exceptional and partners well with Suayan’s illustrations. Sun beams highlighting an upturned face, the stark contrast of a face partially illuminated by fire on a dark night, and the harsh light of a bare bulb are all examples of how Rodriguez’s work affects the mood.
Bloodshot Salvation #4 is an emotionally-charged foundation piece. This book is essential to understanding the powers at play in the larger storyline. Outstanding art and an engrossing story make this book an absolute-must.