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Bloodshot #0 [Review]

bloodshot000Writer: Matt Kindt
Art: Chrisscross
Colors: Moose Baumann
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Associate Editor: Alejandro Arbona
Editor: Warren Simons
Published by: Valiant
Cover Price: $3.99

This is the second distinct Bloodshot #0 I’ve read in the last year or so. I read the original 1993 issue last year, and I’ve been looking forward to this new one for awhile now. That’s one thing I definitely like with the current Valiant–they properly promote books without me feeling they’re over-hyped. Since seeing the cover image for this on one of those inserts with the issue checklist on the back, I’ve been curious about the revelation of this Bloodshot’s “true” origin, or at least clarification of the origin.

Reading this, I was surprised at the opening reference to 1992 (which was when the original series began and the original Bloodshot burst onto the scene). Thankfully any reference to the old is tangential/coincidental/”Easter Egg”-y.

This issue shows us several earlier versions of Bloodshot–essentially, the technology was there, but Bloodshot would be so focused on completing his mission that any collateral damage didn’t matter. Project Rising Spirit wanted to find a way to give their warmachine a conscience of sorts, so an outside scientist is brought in. He winds up reprogramming the nanites to not just record memories but to capture “everything”–in the hopes of catching a “soul.” While his results prove questionable, the scientist’s fate is fairly clear, and we as readers are left to draw our own conclusions from what we’ve observed in the previous 13 issues of Bloodshot.

Story-wise I quite enjoyed this. After the last few months of Harbinger Wars and the upcoming addition of HARD Corps to the title, this makes for a nice “interlude” or “break” between major chapters of this character’s existence. Having some light shed on the background is handy for allowing a bit more identification with the character…though I was a bit disappointed that we had no definitive names provided to clarify which (if any) “identities” Bloodshot’s shown are a “one, true” identity.

Visually I found this to be a mixed bag. There was a definite difference from what I’m used to seeing in this title, so it was a little “off” in that regard. Yet, nothing was really “bad” about it, so I can’t really complain. The style is fairly distinctive–I haven’t seen much of ChrisCross‘ art lately, but do remember enjoying his visuals on the late-’90s/early-’00s Captain Marvel series.

I wouldn’t call this a jump-onboard sort of issue, as it doesn’t really lay the groundwork or introduce stuff the way I would expect of a premiere issue. However, for readers who have been along for the ride this is definitely a worthwhile addition to the mythology of Bloodshot, adding some depth that is fairly timeless and allows for a bit of clarification to what we’ve already seen…and will likely yet see. In its own way, if one looks at the retitling as the beginning of a “new series,” this also provides a sort of cap to the first year, filling in some blanks and adding to what we’ve discovered.

Whatever the case, I enjoyed it, and look forward to seeing what else we get with the character, despite shifting creative teams.

Bloodshot (1990s) #0 [Review]

Family Blood

Writer/Penciller: Kevin Vanhook
Inker: Dick Giordano
Colorist: Jade Moede
Cover: Joe Quesada, Dick Giordano, John Cebollero
Letterer: Jade Moede
Editor: Jorge Gonzalez
Published by: Valiant
Cover Date: March 1994
Cover Price: $3.50

We open on a flashback to the 1860s, on the man who would be known as the Eternal Warrior as he laments his inability to prevent the Mafia from gaining a foothold in the United States. The story then shifts to 1991, as we meet Angelo Mortalli–the man who has been tasked by the Mob to take down the Eternal Warrior. The two come together, and Mortalli believes he’s killed his target–not realizing the man’s nature. Not long after he’s framed for several murders that turn his family against him, and realizing he wouldn’t last on his own, turns himself in. Unfortunately for Mortalli, he becomes the subject of an experiment, as microscopic robots–nanites–are injected into him. When he’s released by a Geomancer, he has no memory of who he once was, but he’s become an ultimate survivor, proficient in all sorts of weaponry.

As I first read this issue, I wasn’t sure who the narrating character was; but I was pretty sure this was not the Shadow Man, nor Ninjak. As I sat down to write this review, it actually occurred to me this might be the Eternal Warrior–a character I know virtually nothing about, but by that name he sounds immortal and thus it would be reasonable to assume that his longevity lends to narrating this story. Having made that connection, I did a quick bit of research and confirmed it: I assumed correctly.

The story is pretty straightforward, introducing us to the various characters pretty quickly, setting up the situation, and moving us through the main points. We get a little bit of backstory as well as the ongoing insight of the Eternal Warrior’s narrative/knowledge of what happened, and we get to see bits of Mortalli’s life as a part of the mob and what he’s like as a person…which seems a stark contrast to the vigilante he would become as Bloodshot.

The art is pretty good–nothing negative, really, to say about it; it fits the story quite well and conveys what’s going on, making things easy to follow, and the issue as a whole flows quite nicely. I’m unfamiliar with Vanhook‘s art offhand, and it reminds me a bit of Barry Windsor-Smith, and the visual style of the entire art team has a look that–for me–screams “1990s!” This is not a bad thing, just an observation…and something that I think helped my enjoyment of the issue, as it looks and feels like the early/mid-1990s comic that it is.

I’m pretty sure this is the first-ever issue of “classic” Bloodshot that I’ve read–though I bought #1 when it came out, that was the dumb collector in me in the early-1990s, bought for the fancy cover and on the chance it’d be come THE “hot, new book.” I don’t recall buying this issue when it came out, though I’ve acquired several copies through the years out of bargain bins, specifically for the shiny cover and my having a thing for these chromium covers.

As something I don’t believe I’ve ever paid more than fifty cents for (so even with multiple copies, I’ve yet to pay a total of the 1994 cover price), this was an excellent issue. It’s given me the origin of Bloodshot (as expected, assuming going in that this was like the X-O Manowar #0 issue that did the same for that character), which–while it takes the mystery away–will likely inform my reading of the early issues of the series.

I approached this as a one-shot; just a lone single-issue I could read, to “sample” Bloodshot after all these years…but I found myself quickly drawn into the story, and by the end of the issue, I am very interested to get into the series proper and experience this original version of Bloodshot.

This is my first-read issue of Bloodshot (1992) but it’s my fourth Bloodshot comic overall–having already read the first three issues of the 2012 series. I can’t help but wonder how much the two inform each other–how much detail in the new series is actually drawn from the original, and how now reading the originals will affect my enjoyment of the new material.

As back-issue bargain bin comics go, if you can find this in a quarter, fifty-cent, or dollar bin, it’s a solid read and well worth picking up. Just beware it igniting an interest in the character and this series that might lead you to hunting a bunch of other issues to read more.

Story: 7/10
Art: 7/10
Overall: 9/10

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