Bloodshot Reborn has been a consistently good book for Valiant, with the idea of a free man, willing to risk entering a personal hell, to save others from the poison that are the nanites, which gave him his abilities. The main book is structured in a way that at first glance, it would be hard to decide where a “one off” issues would or even should fit. The powers that be, seemingly recognising this, give the readers four stories that they hope will fit the various styles of Bloodshot:-
The Silver Lake Slasher – (w) Jeff Lemire; (a) Kano
This story seems to be set before the start of the Bloodshot Reborn run. Bloodshot is in full command of his nanites and seems quite content with his life as it was. This is quite a departure from the regular book, so fans may feel a little aggrieved. Still, the story by Lemire is solid, with some good setup scenes early on leading to a homage of sorts, before we get to the conclusion, which carries the sort of resonance that we expect from the main book. Kano supplies the art, inks and colors, all of which have the feel of the main book. Easy shapes with poses move the story along well enough, with a couple of big panels used for the big moments and some excellent emotive panels and color use in the third act. If there is any concern with this story, it’s that the dialogue, especially from Bloodshot himself, which feels a little forced as if trying to be funny or glib.
Secret Convergence War of Infinite Squirts – (w) The Original Writer; (a) Joe Bennett, Belaroino Brabo, Jay Fabares
As the title suggests, this is not your regular story. Taking pot shots at mainly the Big Two and readers themselves, this story covers what, some would say, is wrong with Big Two events. Of course only being nine pages long, those involved seem to miss the biggest criticism of all; the number of tie-in issues. Maybe it would be too brave to have the conclusion “shown off issue” or at least, the joke may have been to spurious a link to make. Either way, it doesn’t really matter. For 9 pages, you get guest stars from the Valiant universe long with a Squirt-Gwen reference, which may please a certain Crusader I know. The story works because of the lampooning. If I was of a serious mind, I would suggest that Valiant not bite the hand that feeds them, the reader, Also, lets not forget that Valiant themselves are not against event storytelling or variant cover incentives. Do this mean that this story paints them as best of bad bunch? Whatever your thoughts, read this story for what it is and enjoy it.
Words – 4.5
Art – 3.5
Jacob – (w & a) Ray Fawkes
Tying into the first story, Ray Fawkes gives us a brief history of Jacob. The story itself is maybe not the most original. But it adds weight to the first story through inference, which is a more emotive way to tell the story, allowing the readers own concern of the character drive them to the conclusion. The art looks fantastic. The water color effect gives the reader a view of looking through a hazy screen, which parallels how Jacob sees both his immediate world and his own memories. Superlative work from a master storyteller.
Words & Art – 5
Hellcloud Awaits – (w) Michel Fiffe, (a) Benjamin Marra
Bloodshot is captured by a gang looking to traverse into the Hellcloud via Bloodshot’s nanites. There is some cheesy dialogue, a fight scene and more quips than you would expect. Writer Michel Fiffe supplies the words to a concept by Benjamin Marra, who also supplies the art. This story seems to be throwback to Valiant’s “good old days”. As such, reading this story, it’s no wonder they had to close shop and wait a number of year to open its doors again. If it’s pastiche then fine, remembering the past to ensure you repeat its mistakes is one thing, asking the money spending fans to buy your memories and your possible mistakes is another thing all together.
Words – 2.5
Art – 2.5
So a mixed bag for Valiant. This first three stories add value to the Bloodshot mythos, especially the Squirt and Jacob stories. Fans of Lemire, Fawkes, Bloodshot and even Squirt will get something from this book, if they are willing to pay $5.99 which is a lot to pay out for a book that has no real impact on the main story. With the disaster that is the last story, I am not sure that it translates to value for money.
BLOODSHOT REBORN 2016 ANNUAL #1
Written by JEFF LEMIRE with RAY FAWKES, MICHEL FIFFE & BENJAMIN MARRA, and PAUL MAYBURY
Art by KANO with RAY FAWKES, BENJAMIN MARRA, and PAUL MAYBURY