Written by JEFF LEMIRE
Art by MICO SUAYAN with JEFF LEMIRE
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
The noose is closing. The question here, is which noose will hang Ray first, the nanites that will destroy his humanity or the FBI who may take his life?
This is a book that is shrouded in darkness. Gone is the somewhat sunny bright existence of motel handyman, with its undertone of after hours darkness, brought on by more than the night. In its place is darkness upon darkness. One of my all time favourite titles for a book is Michael Connelly’s “A Darkness More Than Night” (fans of Connelly will know the phrase is from a Raymond Chandler story). This phrase kind of sums up this series. No matter which way he turns, Ray is surrounded by darkness.
Ray is still on his mission. In his mind everyone is innocent. Murderers didn’t ask to be infected and the murdered definitely didn’t ask to be murdered. He is still accompanied by his dead girlfriend and the Calvin-esque Bloodsquirt. Whilst both companions add to the trauma of Ray’s life choices, I am glad that they take a bit of a back seat (no pun intended) in this episode of the road trip. To make matters worse, the FBI, led be the savant like Diane Festival seem to be closing in on Ray. The introduction of a new character serves to show Ray not what he is trying to save, but in fact what he has given up.
Jeff Lemire is producing some quality work. His characters scream realism, look at agent Hoyt’s reaction to the most recent nanite extraction for example. Ray is a contrast of anger and acceptance. Thrown in the mix is the hope that all will be ok. Is he suffering from a delusion? If so, is Bloodsquirt the manifestation of this? The plot is moving along nicely. The introduction of another character helps keep the situation fresh, after all each issue, at it’s worse, can be boiled down, to Ray looking for nanites, finding them and killing someone. Lemire is wise enough to add extra ingredients to help keep the stew fresh and tasty.
Mico Suayan’s work is more than equal to the task. For a book that features a realistic approach with the need to incorporate a cartoon character and show the level of emotions for all the characters, there is a lot to cover. Suayan is adept at each element. I never get tired looking at his work in this book. Even the quieter moments are filled with details, all the characters are fully realized and look believable, the would be seductress is a great example of someone trying to use their feminine wiles whilst also demonstrating a level of vulnerability. It is this mix that serves as a sort of test of character for Ray who wins through inaction, but may ultimately lose in terms of emotion. Dave Baron’s colors add to the real world element.
Valiant are somewhat in the ascendency at the moment. They have film options and their lead of hitter of a book X-O will hit 50 issues next year. Bloodshot is one of their top tier titles, alongside the aforementioned X-O and Ninjak. If you have been disappointed by “the more things change, the more they stay the same” mentality of the Big Two, you would be well served checking out Valiant.