That’s not a ball he’s holding

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

What’s better than one Valiant Hero in a comic? Two, obviously. This issue Bloodshot is joined by X-O Manowar as they track down an evil more alien in origin than anything Bloodshot has faced so far. It’s an interesting choice and nicely ties Bloodshot back into the wider Valiant universe. There’s also more social commentary as the thing they gave this time is an alien worshipped as god in a small community.

The idea of faith and church is woven into the issue from the very first page as Bloodshot and X-O are in a church. It seems to be evangelical but with a serpent twist. For they worship a Loamsong, an alien even the vine are scared of. The government found one and sterilised it but they didn’t do a good job because now there’s a hive in this small town.

The exposition is neatly done in just a few panels which are flashbacks interspersed with the events of the present as Bloodshot narrates what’s going on. We get all the information we need and it doesn’t get in the way of the developing plot and taking in what the issue is trying to say. It also gives a good sense of how Bloodshot feels about X-O and their current mission in a church with a man with a snake around his neck.

The image of the snake really weaves its way in and out throughout the issue. The art makes the most of the analogy. We get closeups of the snake, see it weaving around the preacher, it feels like an evil weaving through the panels. There’s a definite scary air about that snake and it sets the scene well for the actual alien evil out heroes will face later toward the climax of the issue.

There is some really nice work in the metaphor here about faith, I stress, evil. About lost people gravitating toward this evil god as they look for hope and something more. It’s a very obvious parallel to some of the real world politics of America and it works. The worshippers are treated too with some sympathy. There’s some sense of caricature about them but also a kind of sadness which feeds into how Bloodshot feels about the situation, and makes him reflect.

That climax has some very brutal and gory scenes. As always the fact Bloodshot can take so much punishment is utilised to full advantage. We see a lot of his blood and guts. As always though it works with what the story is trying to say. Bloodshot suffers pain of so many different types and in many ways the physical sufferings don’t matter to him, it’s the psychological ones that he’s really tormented with.

For yes, this issue we see another of his illusions, and again for much of the issue we think she might be real. This time it’s a pregnant woman, another vulnerable illusion who also seems to represent something to Bloodshot. This time though he can’t help but think of his wife, Magic, her fate still unknown to us but clearly at the forefront of Bloodshot’s mind.

We do see another hero of course, X-O, who also has a role here. If you didn’t know about Aric of Dacia before then you probably don’t know too much about him by the end. There are little snippets of his past mentioned, his name, his space trips, but there’s not a great deal, which is fine as this isn’t his book. He is the supporting character to Bloodshot after all but we get enough to get a general sense of him.

I have to say the characterisation of X-O was pretty good. I very much enjoyed the little Shanhara references. That aspect of the X-O books has always been my favourite and it’s nice to have that acknowledged here. The art is also really good, capturing X-O and Aric well. The missing lower arm, the way the armour bonds, all is depicted as you’d hope.

This is a solid third entry. Each issue has brought something new to the table, added to Bloodshot’s character and that is certainly true here as well. Having X-O guest star was a solid choice, bringing a new dimension to Bloodshot in the process. I’m liking how the art and writing are so seamless together and how each issue is well paved with a good story. It might be a basic monster of the week premise but it’s been done so well. This third issue is well worth checking out.

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