Friday, 3 January 2014

Bloodshot Volume 4: H.A.R.D. Corps Review (Christos Gage, Joshua Dysart)


Bloodshot has been captured by Toyo Harada, the powerful head psychic of the Harbinger Foundation, who wants to extract the nanites that make Bloodshot near invulnerable with their rapid healing. Enter the HARD Corps, a team of humans whose brains have been modified to give them temporary superhuman powers and who have been assembled to rescue Bloodshot – but will such an inexperienced team be able to stand up to Harada, one of the world’s most dangerous men? 

The short answer is yes (though just barely). It’s also an entertaining rescue mission story that bizarrely winds up repeating itself like in the original Star Wars Trilogy when they blow up the Death Star twice! Unlike Star Wars though, it’s difficult to like any of the characters. 

In the Bloodshot #0 issue, Bloodshot murders a mother and her baby on one page, then massacres a family picnicking on a beach on the next, because he doesn’t want any witnesses – this is our hero by the way! The HARD Corps meanwhile are made up of desperate people who’re essentially giving up their lives for their families’ future financial security. The system has screwed them so badly that having experimental implants stuck in their brains is their only recourse. HARD Corps (what a stupid acronym! It exists solely as a pun on “hardcore”) version 2 are made up of homeless drunks, the terminally ill, and a Flowers for Algernon guy – all doomed! These are also our heroes! Meanwhile the bad guy, Harada, is extracting Bloodshot’s nanites to help cure humanity’s incurable diseases to benefit our race – and he’s our villain. 

Besides the confusing allegiances readers may have about the characters and their situations, it’s not a bad comic. The HARD Corps bust into Harbinger HQ to rescue Bloodshot in an exciting and fun sequence, then go back again – this time with Bloodshot – to recapture what nanites Harada was able to extract, and that sequence is also pretty cool. The characters themselves aren’t that interesting personality-wise and they have terrible codenames like Superstar and Genius, but their brain implants which give them temporary superpowers are an awesome idea and seeing a team of amateurs using them without the smooth panache that superheroes like the X-Men use their powers, is a compelling angle. Unpredictability in action can be very fun like it is here. 

There are plenty of dull dialogue scenes between the leader of the HARD Corps, Charlie Palmer (who isn’t as cool or interesting as his almost namesake, Chili Palmer, the Elmore Leonard character), as corporate guys in suits argue with military monkeys in a series of repetitive pissing matches. But then this is a Christos Gage comic – the guy isn’t known for his great writing – and Joshua Dysart is average at best. The art is so-so but not particularly memorable. 

There isn’t much else to this volume and for all its numerous inclusions of brains throughout, this comic is as brainless as it gets. It’s not a layered read, it isn’t very complex nor does it have any clever or profound observations – it’s just the Valiant version of the Expendables. And like those movies, Bloodshot and HARD Corps does hold the attention, though only in the action parts.

Bloodshot Volume 4: H.A.R.D. Corps

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