Model citizen

Publisher: Valiant
Writer: Deniz Camp
Artist: Jon Davis-Hunt
Colourist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: Hasan Otsmane-Elhaou

There is some truly brilliant stuff in this issue of Bloodshot Unleashed. The first issue was strong but this second issue not only builds on the first but it builds on the whole character of Bloodshot, his abilities, his past. There are references to the wider Valiant universe too. I was so impressed with the care taken with all of those things too. The writing, art and lettering are solid.

As we know Bloodshot is travelling around tracking down super soldiers who pose a threat. Here he ends up in a town suffering from radiation poisoning due to the mechanised rampage of well an armoured robot with the brain of a pilot killed in an accident. The company that put the robot suit together did so with nuclear power. Now the Lombard Motor company have lost and control and is in ruins with their creation armed to the teeth and lashing out like a wounded animal.

I liked how this was a very different sort of foe to that seen in the last issue. Bill Hagan is mostly gone, only his brain remains, placed into a robot that is very well designed. He looks like he’s been designed from various military weapons and vehicles. The solid head and torso a bit like a rounded tank, or a grenade. There’s

The way we see how Bill Hagan was transformed are some powerful panels. There are so many small panels, each focusing on the key details. All are well composed. Then over the top we have the lettering but each bubble is cut off. We can see the words but at the same time there’s a feeling of disjointedness. It’s really very effective as we see how the kind of what was once Bill Hagan is reduced to a brain in a suit, treated like a dog. You can feel a lot of sympathy for this being, even Bloodshot seems to.

Speaking of Bloodshot his narration really gives some deep insights. He describes how the nanites operate, how they feed him information. We often have seen those tiny machines as just things that heal Bloodshot but here it’s clear they are so much more. They are in Bloodshot’s mind in many ways, he has to listen to them, sometimes whether he wants to or not. They are always present in his mind.

What is not always present is the hallucination of a son that Bloodshot experiences throughout this issue. At first it’s confusing to see a boy calling him Daddy before we get the explanation that this is a manifestation of one of his false memories, implanted by Project Rising Spirit to give him motivation, now appearing to try and warn Bloodshot away from the danger he’s rushing into. The boy, Charlie, appears real to Bloodshot and us. I love how Bloodshot gives away the visual clues that Charlie is not what he seems and as readers we can get that moment of visual realisation too. The whole character of Charlie and the horrific memory he ultimate ended with is a peek into Bloodshot’s manipulated psyche.

Bloodshot reveals a lot about his past. We also get the mYure rating earned through the fact that the radiation and damage mean Bloodshot needs protein. The source of it is pretty awful. Not like there’s a handy cow on the side of a road in a place where there’s just the dead and dying. The art is really good at emphasise the horror of the protein solution without being gratuitous.

That’s what is so great about this issue, all the elements really work together. It feels a blended approach, a collaboration that sells the depth of both Bloodshot and Hagan. The very fact what is essentially a mech robot with a human brain is established with a backstory and is treated with suitable tragedy I think speaks for itself.

There’s a hit here and there about the tragedy Bloodshot has had recently but it’s not touched upon really and I am okay with leaving that for now, it’s clear we will get more eventually but I think we needed more of Bloodshot giving an insight into his nature, especially for newer readers. I did appreciate the subtle weaving in of references to other parts of the Valiant universe such as the reference to Harada. I love a Harada reference.

This is a really strong issue for both longtime readers and new readers alike. This run is establishing the character of Bloodshot really well. The setup of a foe of the week also is successful. In this case we can draw parallels between Hagan, a wife and son and Bloodshot’s false memories of Charlie. I just love the choices made this issue. I thought issue #1 was a strong start, issue #2 just makes it even better. Now is the time to jump back on board with Bloodshot.

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