Monday, 10 October 2016

Bloodshot Reborn, Volume 4: Bloodshot Island Review (Jeff Lemire, Mico Suayan)

Bloodshot wakes up on a tropical island with no memory of how he got there – no, he wasn’t on a stag do! Before he can even contemplate bronzing up that alabaster-white skin and downing some tropical drinks with tiny umbrellas, he’s quickly on the run after being shot at by Deathmate, a flying Angel of Death! He’s also not alone – meet the Bloodshot Squad, made up of earlier Bloodshot prototypes who’re also being used as moving targets! But who is Deathmate and can Bloodshot and co. survive the island and escape? 

Bloodshot Reborn is probably Valiant’s best title at the moment which unfortunately isn’t saying much. The first two books were quite decent and, surprisingly, the series is getting better with Bloodshot Island being the best volume so far! 

Like previous books in the series, the storyline loosely takes its inspiration from a popular movie - the Colorado story arc was The Bourne Identity, The Analog Man was Mad Max: Fury Road, and Bloodshot Island is Edge of Tomorrow. The Bloodshots get hunted by Deathmate, they inevitably die, they’re resurrected overnight, and the hunt begins again the next day, ad infinitum. 

But it’s fun to see Bloodshot rally the squad and fight the seemingly invincible Deathmate – everyone loves the underdogs! Their tactics are interesting and the action is exciting. Jeff Lemire also has a surprise up his sleeve for who Deathmate really is (even if it’s a confusing reveal if you’ve read The Valiant and totally meaningless if you haven’t). He also cleverly works in the history of the Bloodshot program, as well as the new characters’ backgrounds, into the action so there’s a nice balance between the two. 

I’m glad Mico Suayan’s back to draw Bloodshot again – his solid-looking realistic art is fantastic, impressive and expressive. Deathmate’s design is a little uninspired though, being a cross between the T-1000 and The Authority’s Engineer. 

Also included is the Bloodshot Reborn Annual which has a great opening story, The Silver Lake Slasher, and an amusing piss-take of Marvel and DC event comics. A crisis-type event features The Anti-Beyonditor (a cross between the Anti-Monitor from DC’s Crisis on Infinite Earths and the Beyonder from Marvel’s first Secret Wars) and Faith holds the body of a fallen superhero a la Superman and Supergirl. Look at the credits and there’s even a dig at Alan Moore: “Written by The Original Writer”, which is how Moore asked to be credited on the Miracleman reprints (pretentious tosspot). 

The epilogue of Bloodshot Squad backstories was an unnecessary and uninteresting conclusion and some of the Annual was weak (the awful Ray Fawkes unfortunately contributes a story), but Bloodshot Island is mostly a chicken dinner. It also sets up the next arc, Bloodshot USA, which looks tantalising. Jeff Lemire is winning me over with his take on this character – if Bloodshot USA is anything like Bloodshot Island, I can’t wait!

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