Publisher: Valiant
Writer: Deniz Camp
Artist: Eric Zawadski
Colourist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: Hasan Otsmane-Elhaou

Here we are with the last issue of Bloodshot. It’s been a short run but also one packed with quality. This has been a solid return for Bloodshot. Who knows when we will get more of the character. If we do I hope we get something more in this vein. It’s a good ending to a first and possibly only arc. We finally get answers regarding Bloodshot’s family, including an appearance from the dog, yes. I’m satisfied with what we got. There are things that could be expanded upon in the future which is also good.

If there is a theme then that theme is pretty dark and PTSD. There is a lot of trauma explored here both Bloodshot’s but also that of Sergeant Michael Verlane, the soldier Bloodshot is facing. Verlane is a man haunted by flashbacks to his past. So is Bloodshot as we finally flashback to the event that ruined Bloodshot’s home and family. It’s not quite what I thought.

I really loved how the parallels were drawn between the present with Verlane and the past with his family. The two storylines were interweaved really well in both the writing but also the art. The two stories make sense together. When reading you are able to follow along with both and get sense of the loss of both.

Verlane is probably the most sympathetic character we’ve met. It’s not his fault that he suffers traumatic flashbacks that lead him to violence and Bloodshot gets that. It’s why he looks for a non-violent way of subduing him. Which means that he gets pretty shot up in the process. Well shot, exploded, all those things that lead to messy outcomes.

The art doesn’t shy away from the sheer damage Bloodshot takes. He spends significant periods of this issue with a hole in his chest. Quite literally. Yet for all the blood and guts in the art there’s also the melancholy, the fact Bloodshot doesn’t blame Verlane at all. Little touches of the way Bloodshot moves and gold himself all reflect the way he’s trying to help Verlane above everything. There’s a lot to be said of the body language in the art which helps reinforce what we hear in the narration.

There’s also a particularly poignant bit of art later on as we flashback to Bloodshot and his daughter Jessie. I don’t want to spoil it but splashes of blood have a particularly touching message. It really gives some of the previous moments both in the present and the past some extra emotional context.

There’s plenty of action in both the present and the past and as always it’s well done. The panelling is very interesting. Everything is at an angle which makes it feel just slightly off kilter, giving a sense of disorientation no doubt experienced by the characters. It’s a simple but effective way of helping the reader empathise. Plus the panels are interesting and help keep you engaged.

The lettering too is on point. There are times when the narration of the two storylines coincidences but the lettering does a great job of making it clear which is which and helping to differentiate the different settings. There’s an interesting touch when Bloodshot speaks to Verlane who is picturing Bloodshot as a giant spider. The choice of text works really well.

I’m desperately trying to avoid spoilers because this will have more impact if you go in blind. I was glad of the answers we got. I had my doubts about that classic fridging of the hero’s family trope and I am delighted to say that Deniz Camp successfully subverted my expectations and has not resorted to that trope but given things a twist, he’s done something much more clever.

This is a good Bloodshot issue in a short run that is the best take on the character for years. It’s pays homage to the established character with the more thoughtful outlook whilst also delivering on action and violence. It’s a book that deals with trauma, doesn’t shy away from PTSD whilst also delivering classic comic book action. That’s not always an easy balance but is successful here.

I absolutely recommend this run of Bloodshot. I hope that one day we get more of this. It’s been such a good mini. The four issues all tell a solid stand alone tale along with an overall arc. This is a solid finale that shows the best of the writing, art, colouring and lettering that have made this so good.

Support Valiant by checking out books like this because this represents what Valiant does so well.

I will add there’s also a poignant bit at the end of this issue reflecting on Jason David Frank who was the first to play Bloodshot in live action. It’s a lovely gesture. Thank you Valiant.

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