Bloodshot U.S.A. #4
By Jeff Lemire, Doug Braithwaite, Brian Reber
Bloodshot U.S.A. #4 hits a strong note for its finale. Born out of the Bloodshot Reborn series, the Bloodshot U.S.A. event turned the concept of Bloodshot on its ear, moving from a singular experience to one of mass proportion – and not without consequences.
This issue effectively closes out the Bloodshot Reborn saga that writer Jeff Lemire has been spinning since the title’s launch. We’ve watched as Ray, aka Bloodshot, struggled to accept who and what he was, first as a man, then as a super soldier. During the process, we learned what Bloodshot was really made of, and I’m not referring to nanites. Reborn was an excellent character piece, showcasing not just his physical journey but the emotional one as well. As it turned out, Bloodshot wasn’t the first, or the last.
The reveal that there are other Bloodshots was a turning point in Ray’s story. It put the wheels in motion for the culminating event of Bloodshot U.S.A. Lemire took the story bigger than ever with the spread of a man-made infection of nanites that turned the citizens of New York and Valiant heroes into raging, Bloodshot-esque mad dogs.
Lemire made certain that this tale was more than a gnarly battle. He kept the human elements in place, such as Ray’s feelings for Magic and Kay, and the intrinsic brotherhood of the Bloodshot squad. The fights were intense and the reveals surprising, but it was the relationships that ultimately made readers care about this story.
This issue, the last in the miniseries, picks up at multiple critical moments. Agent Festival holding Kozol at gun point, ineffectively attempting to put a stop to his scheme; Magic turning up just in time to see Deathmate Kay about to kiss Ray; Ninjak and the rest of the squad being overwhelmed by frenzied nanite victims.
I won’t give away the ending, but it is rewarding, especially to those readers who have been there every step of the way. The urgency that the characters feel is translated to the page, and readers will find themselves driven to discover what happens next. Brace yourself as there are a few shocks in store. Lemire nails this by not giving it a fairy tale tidy ending. He effectively resolves the event and addresses key happenings and relationships while leaving potentialities. What we are given rings true. The upcoming Bloodshot Reborn #0 may explore some of these possibilities as it sets the stage for the evolution of the Bloodshot saga, Salvation.
Artist Doug Braithwaite and colorist Brian Reber team up to bring readers a handsome book. Braithwaite’s work has become synonymous with many of the key characters thanks to his previous work on Unity, Ninjak, and Imperium. Here he portrays intense, mob scene fighting as well as a range of intricate emotions that lend heft to the story. The storytelling is clear and concise, and his unexpected use of nontraditional panel layout adds dynamism to key moments. There are some stunning scenes, including a double-page spread of Kay in action high above the city. Braithwaite’s work is enhanced by the work of colorist Brian Reber. The colors are earthy and natural, and his warm choices make you feel the heat of battle. Perhaps the most outstanding pages are those of Kay at the height of the confrontation. Vivid and otherworldly, these standout against the against the predominant color scheme.
Bloodshot U.S.A. #4 is an exciting, satisfying end to a miniseries that has added complexity to the cast of characters and the world they inhabit. It shouldn’t go without notice that the series ended as it began, at the door of a hotel room. It brings the story full circle yet is also indicative of the transitory nature of Bloodshot, moving from mission to mission and location to location.