Hey there kids, it’s your old pal Uncle Mac, back this week with a review of a new title from the good people at Valiant Comics.
As always, I refuse to lie, especially to me dear readers, so I want to be very upfront here. I know absolutely nothing about the character of Bloodshot. I never read the comic when it was coming out, I never saw the film, I’ve not even reviewed the wiki. I went into this title completely cold to see if a new reader could pick it up and follow it, and I have to say, I never felt lost.
Valiant has been real good at this for a while. Even if you’ve never read a Valiant comic, you’re probably familiar with the names of their top tier characters, especially if you spent any time hanging around comic shops in the past. XO Man-O-War, Shadowman, and yes, Bloodshot are all titles that I remember getting big pushes back in the day, and so while you might not know too much about him, you’d probably at least recognize his fairly iconic look.
The recognizability of Bloodshot probably played a role in the decision to start the ill-fated Valiant cinematic universe with a Bloodshot film, but while our hero cannot be killed by bullets, his film franchise could be killed by Covid-19, and so that universe never got a chance (which is a shame because since DC has completely shit the bed when it comes to their own cinematic universe, it would have been nice to have a smaller indie publisher get their own one off the ground. The Boys has shown that there is an appetite for superhero material outside of the MCU, especially one with a much darker edge, and we could have done a lot worse than the Valiant heroes).
Bloodshot Unleashed #1 is, at it’s core, a great first issue for any new reader looking to dive into a character they might only know a little bit about. Why does it work? What makes it a fun read? Well let’s dive in and find out!
Here’s the blurb: Dangerous super soldiers and bloodthirsty living weapons have mysteriously escaped into the world to wreak havoc across the dying towns and forgotten farms of America. Now, Bloodshot must take up arms again to travel across the country hunting down these violent monsters, battling his own demons, and defending the most defenseless. Deniz Camp (Agent of W.O.R.L.D.E.) and Jon Davis-Hunt (SHADOWMAN) join forces to unleash Valiant Entertainment’s first Mature Readers title that puts the BLOOD in BLOODSHOT.
So right off the bat, this is not a comic for little kids. As the blurb says, this is a mature reader title and they definitely push that premise pretty hard. Within the first few pages this book involves multiple scenes of attempted, and successful suicide, murder, gun violence, and many, many other kinds of carnage. Artist Jon Davis-Hunt pushes to gore to the max in this book, and so if you’ve been jonesing for some of that good old ultra-violence you are going to love what you see in this book.
That being said, while it is a splatterfest of gore, Bloodshot Unleashed also has a solid plot, an interesting premise, and more pathos than you might expect from a title like this. Our book opens with our main character, Bloodshot, remembering the pain and suffering that he has faced in his life, and that recollection drives him to put a bullet through his brain. For anyone else, this might be the end, but for a character who can literally knit himself back together from just about any wound, he quickly recovers while at the same time describing in detail what that process feels like.
Clearly this is a character tormented by his past, a well known trope in the superhero genre, but one that works because of how relevant it is to today’s world.
While the rest of Bloodshot Unleashed is a cool, action packed adventure, I really appreciate writer Deniz Camp taking the time at the beginning of this story to give us this scene. It’s violent and haunting, and does an excellent job of setting the tone for this series. Bloodshot is a cool, ‘90s character who uses big guns and has cool fights, but at his core he is a deeply hurt individual, one whose life has gone wrong multiple times in ways that ordinary people would be probably be unable to come back from, and yet because of his unique situation, there is no escape for him. This understanding adds a layer of depth to what could easily be a two-dimensional hero, and it really makes me interested in seeing where this series goes from here.
The book itself is divided into multiple timelines. We have the events of the opening, and then we have the two main storylines. In one, an official in the U.S. government reveals to Bloodshot that a secret prison full of super soldiers was recently breached, allowing twenty-seven deranged lunatics to escape and rampage across the country. Unwilling to admit that they were responsible, the government has instead decided to ignore this issue and focus on hiding the damage these individuals cause rather than risk confronting them directly. The official wants Bloodshot to stop them, a task which he very reluctantly agrees to do, seeing as many of them are people like himself to varying degrees.
The second storyline is Bloodshot confronting the first of the twenty-seven, a mentally deranged soldier who has the power to pull weapons from a pocket dimension, which he uses to return home and slaughter the entire town he grew up in. The violence in this storyline gives us a taste of what we are in store for with the rest of this series, and if you’re a fan of The Boys or The Punisher, well, this is going to be the book for you.
A solid first issue that is welcomes new readers, has emotional depth and gory violence, Bloodshot Unleashed hits shelves next month. As someone who has really been enjoying this latest incarnation of the Valiant Universe, this is another great title that I look forward to reading!
Until next time, Stay Safe.