by Angela Cainen & Zachary Whittaker

February 2023 marked the 30th anniversary of one of Valiant’s most enduring and popular characters, the nanite infused programmable killer turned anti-hero Bloodshot! He’s a favourite here at Bigger Than Capes, so we wanted to take some time out to shine a spotlight on the character and draw attention to some of his greatest hits.

A Bloodshot Time Line

Original Recipe Bloodshot – 1993

Bloodshot originally appeared, as many Valiant characters of the 90s did, in someone else’s book. Not part of the massive Unity event he nonetheless first appeared in panel (barely) at the end of Eternal Warrior #4 (in November 1992) He appeared a bit more substantially in Rai Zero (also November 1992). Clearly these brief appearances made an impact as his own book was launched in 1993.

Created by Kevin Vanhook (writing) and Don Perlin (art) with input from editor Bob Layton this first run lasted fifty-one issues with a bonus zero issue (to expand on that first appearance in Eternal Warrior) and a Yearbook issue. The first issue had a foil cover and is one of the iconic covers of 90s Valiant.

In the spirit of 90’s Valiant it’s set in the then present time (1992), there’s a lot of location hopping and yes, some gore. Violence is not shied away from. In the first issue Bloodshot’s healing abilities are not as extensive as they would later become, or at least he’s unsure about them. He’s a bit of a mercenary facing threats from both Project Rising Spirit, who created him, and the Mafia, from his mysterious past, as he tries to find out his identity pre-Bloodshot.

Many of the foundations of the later Valiant universe (generally not just Bloodshot related) can be found here. Bloodshot has Harbinger aka Psiot abilities to allow him to harness his injected nanites which, as well as healing him, give him control over machinery. He fights Psiots too. There are also Speedshots, created by Project Rising Spirit to bring Bloodshot back but without his full abilities.

There’s a lot of action but there is some attempt to play with the mystery and tragedy of Bloodshot’s past. He has a decent run which does develop the character and expands on the supporting cast. He also teams up with Eternal Warrior in the strong Valiant crossover tradition.

Bloodshot Volume 2 – The Acclaim Years – 1997

With the acquisition of Valiant by Acclaim Entertainment in 1997 there was a new Bloodshot in town. This version, written by Len Kaminski with art by Sal Velluto, has a different origin. This Bloodshot is an agent of the Domestic Operations Authority who is killed whilst infiltrating the Mafia but then revived using nanites.

Despite only lasting sixteen issues until 1998 this Bloodshot is the bridge between OG Bloodshot and the later revival in terms of character name, identity and origin using parts of the original Bloodshot and bringing in new aspects that will be expanded upon later, especially by Jeff Lemire.

Most of the run has Bloodshot looking for answers about his origin with the DOA and Project Lazarus. As with most Acclaim books the character design is very nineties and visually the least appealing. But it does have a decent legacy compared to some Acclaim titles.

The Summer Of Valiant – Bloodshot Volume 3 – 2012

Bloodshot was one of the first characters to get his own series during the relaunch of Valiant in 2012, his initial series ran for twenty-five issues and a zero issue, and while the bulk of the run saw Bloodshot doing his own thing and dealing with his own problems the series had a significant tie-in to Valiant’s Harbinger Wars event, was briefly rebranded as Bloodshot and H.A.R.D.corps and also had a little crossover with Fred Van Lente’s Archer & Armstrong along the way.

The majority of this run spends its time reintroducing Bloodshot as a character, under the control of Project Rising Spirit and with his memory wiped for every mission before being sent out to abduct rogue Psiot kids. Breaking free of PRS’s control and attempting to rescue the same kids he’s been tracking down for them is exactly what puts him in the middle of Harbinger Wars.

The Valiant, Bloodshot Reborn, Bloodshot USA, Bloodshot Salvation

The Valiant follows the story of the Geomancer, Kay McHenry, as she’s hunted by a terrifying demon with basically every hero in the Valiant universe trying to protect her, which his how she ends up with Bloodshot as a bodyguard. As always we don’t want to give too much away but this event kickstarts a new era for Bloodshot as a character, with the introduction of Jeff Lemire and Matt Kindt as writers we see a new take on the character and a lot more character focused stories for Bloodshot.

Bloodshot Reborn picks up directly after The Valiant and shows Bloodshot in a very different place than we’ve ever seen him before and as well as introducing a great range of new supporting characters also allows us to get to know our protagonist that we haven’t before. Although they’ve got different names Bloodshot Reborn, Bloodshot USA and Bloodshot Salvation are very much all part of the same series and story. There’s also some connection with 4001 AD and Rai which are also well worth your time if you want to get all the details.

Jeff Lemire’s time writing Bloodshot came to an end right about the time that Harbinger Wars 2 was taking place, which isn’t the easiest event to explain. Changes with the creative team and ownership of Valiant Entertainment lead to the event becoming a little bit more lacklustre than readers were expecting (y’know how comic book companies like to promise events are going to make “big changes” to the universe). In a nutshell Livewire goes to war with the government over the ongoing mistreatment of Psiots, which comes to a head through the events of Massacre, a single issue of the short lived Harbinger Renegade series.

Bloodshot Rising Spirit

Bloodshot Rising Spirit kind of returns the character back to it’s origin point, drawing heavily on the 1993 run and the 2012 run, to make Bloodshot all about the action. In itself that’s not such a bad idea, especially ahead of the film adaptation that was due out at a similar time. It is however a harsh departure from Jeff Lemire’s take on the character, there were also issues with the creative team changing a lot during this short lived series, which effects the overall quality quite significantly.

Bloodshot (2019) & Bloodshot Unleashed

Post Bloodshot Rising Spirit in 2019 Bloodshot got another book. This one lasted twelve issues plus an issue #0. This time Bloodshot is more of a mercenary. Tim Seeley writing with Brett Booth on pencilling have a Bloodshot on a personal mission to right wrongs.

This run introduces Black Bar as the shadowy organisation pursuing the titular character.

Bloodshot Unleashed by Deniz Camp (writing) and Jon Davies-Hunt (art) goes back to the Jeff Lemire interpretation of the character and picks up after the end of Salvation. It acts as a direct sequel to Lemire’s run in many ways, especially tonally. Only four issues long it’s more of a mini series but it packs a lot in, including an issue featuring a crossover with X-O Manowar.

The structure of the mini series is basic enough, Bloodshot tracking down a rogue super soldier of the week, well issue, but don’t let this fool you as there’s some really excellent character work. This Bloodshot has lost his family and as the issues go on we see his tragedy played out in flashbacks and learn what’s happened to him.

The soldiers too are well fleshed out. Some clearly evoke real world politics and some are downright tragic. As with any Bloodshot book there’s action but there is also plenty of solid characterisation and pacing. It’s one of the stronger uses of the character. It’s also a mature readers title but honestly the violence and gore is comparable to other titles and never overwhelms the story.

Bloodshot On Screen

Ninjak Vs. The Valiant Universe

The web series Ninjak Vs The Valiant Universe marked the first on screen appearance of many Valiant characters, including Bloodshot played by the late great Jason David Frank. This is the first live action Bloodshot we see and whilst the nature of the project means his role is limited there’s some decent material here.

This Bloodshot is a good fighter and that’s basically what he does, as the web series plot is mostly a series of fight sequences. Given his pedigree Jason David Frank plays well with the action. He’s not given a huge amount of material but he does manage to get across some of the more thoughtful aspects of Bloodshot in the quieter moments.


When DMG entertainment took over Valiant they announced several film and TV projects. The first, and so far only, one of these to be produced is 2020’s Bloodshot movie starring Vin Diesel as the titular character.

The film was due to be released in March 2020. Unfortunately, Mother Nature had already released a virus called Covid and the Bloodshot movie turned into a casualty. Although available for streaming and on physical media it never really had an impact outside of the Valiant faithful.

The trailer gave away virtually the whole plot leaving no surprises. The film doesn’t appear to draw on any specific run and the characters, bar Bloodshot himself and even then loosely, don’t really relate to previous iterations either. It does seem something of a throwback to earlier comic book runs and perhaps not always in a successful way.

Vin Diesel is fine in the role with regards to action but sometimes misses the nuances of Bloodshot’s tragedy of being. It does feel like a bit of a missed opportunity. Still it’s interesting to see an actual Valiant character in a big screen movie production.

Where to start with Bloodshot?

We’ve read a lot of Bloodshot books between us, and we would definitely recommend The Valiant followed by Bloodshot Reborn as the best starting point for the character. It’s the most character driven stories in the Bloodshot back catalogue and one way or another it will inform which kind of Bloodshot stories you’d like to check out from there. If you like Reborn and want to carry on in that vein you can keep going with Jeff Lemire’s run and if you feel like you’d be into something that’s more firmly action you can jump back to Duane Swierczynski’s 2012 run or Tim Seeley’s 2019 run.

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