Indie Comic Review: Bloodshot #4 (with preview)

Sometimes things just feel right. It is almost like things just fit in a groove and hum along. Bloodshot has hit its groove with issue #4.

With his false memories now wiped away, Bloodshot is about to bring one hell of a reckoning to the black ops butchers that made him into a walking weapon. But will the truth that lies beneath Atlee, Nevada leave Bloodshot bloodied – or with blood on his hands? Valiant’s man without a past hurtles toward the brain-rattling climax of his first campaign into the Valiant Universe.

As I have mentioned several times before, Bloodshot is a title which most surprised me in the Valiant relaunch. It is far more intelligent than I expected from an action comic. Duane Swierczynski goes out of his way to challenge not just Bloodshot, but also the reader, on issues of power, morality, and the concept of control. There are no easy answers in Bloodshot. While it may be tempting to just unleash the character in a bloody rampage, Swierczynski has crafted a far more complex scenario where a weapon of mass destruction must be honed in to a tool of surgical precision.

This issue does two things particularly well: it creates a supporting cast, and it ties the title in to the greater Valiant Universe in a clear and concrete manner without burdening the reader with needless continuity. Bloodshot resolves his conflict with the super-powered Pulse in a manner which is natural and makes sense. There is no contrived Deus ex Machina or sudden change of heart. Even a reader who has not read the previous issue will have enough information to understand how and why the characters act as they do. (trying to avoid spoilers here!). In addition, Kara, the pseudo-hostage paramedic, makes an important decision which ties her fate to Bloodshot. It gives Bloodshot an emotional connection which he has been missing.

But more importantly (at least as far as univers-building goes) Bloodshot #4 stitches another thread in to the fabric of the Valiant Univers. Pulse attempts to call “Tony” Harada. For a casual reader, there is no need to know this name aside from it is who Pulse chooses to call. For readers of the wider Valiant Universe, the name Harada looms large. It reminds me of the old days of Marvel when Luke Cage would walk out of the tailor with his new yellow silk shirts just as the clerk greets Dr. Banner who has just walked in for more pants. Connected universe, not crushing continuity.

You can do far worse than picking up an issue of Bloodshot. It is entertaining, thought-provoking, and accessible. What more could you ask for from a comic?

Bloodshot #4 is available in stores today!

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