Writer: Jeff Lemire
Art: Lewis LaRosa & Mico Suayan
Colors: Brian Reber
Letters: Simon Bowland
The constant waffling of Marvel and DC when it comes to publishing orders, stopping & starting a series, and re-stopping & re-starting a series, makes efficiently collecting books nigh impossible. Investing in a particular ongoing can be difficult when you have no idea whether it will be published in four months, or if it will even feature the same characters. Lucky for us, Valiant feels our pain.
The Bloodshot series re-launches under a new subtitle roughly every 25 issues, so Valiant’s repeated series debuts come off more as narrative choices or natural endings/beginnings. Thankfully Jeff Lemire stays on as Bloodshot: Salvation’s scribe following his successful stint writing Bloodshot: Reborn. Art duties are shared by Lewis LaRosa & Mico Suayan, both of whom worked on Reborn as well. Again, consistency is nice.
The main plot is easy to swallow, and at the outset feels uncomfortably familiar to the latest Wolverine film, Logan. A man with anger issues and healing powers granted to him by a secret military operation needs to find a little girl (who also has the same powers) when is taken from him and now he wants her back. Yeesh, that’s like the entire premise of both stories word for word. Thankfully Lemire knows what he’s doing. To make up for the obvious initial plot he gives the reader as little information as possible, and utilizes flashbacks to keep the story moving and worth reading. I’m under-selling the story here, I think, because I really enjoyed it – however it certainly isn’t something we haven’t seen before. I honestly don’t feel too comfortable discussing plot in any detail, as the only elements that would set the story apart are also spoilers. Then again, it’s an action/revenge tale, and we’ve seen a million of them, the formula is proven, and this book has that formula down and then some.
Now I know what you’re thinking: a gritty, military-based revenge yarn is probably accompanied with a rougher, exaggerated art style and yeah, that’s essentially what Larosa and Suayan bring to the table. For the most part it’s very good, and does a lot to keep the story moving. Every hardboiled grimace is different and vivid, and the characters all seem to visually connect with each other. I’m not much a fan of the colors or the inks, though. There are a few stylistic changes that happen over the course of the story, and the final two thirds of the book are colored and inked in such a way that everything looks muddied and, frankly, kinda cheap. Brian Reber is clearly talented, but all the characters pop from the scene so much that they don’t look like they belong in the world. Perhaps it’s the lack of background detail by the penciler, because sometimes the characters look so out of place it’s as if they were photo shopped into the image. It was probably done intentionally to push the reader through the many exposition panels and better connect with Frank, but it does not look like a high quality product, and drags everything else down a little.
Ultimately Bloodshot: Salvation isn’t the most original book, and the art may be an issue for some readers, but still succeeds as Valiant’s latest offering in the Bloodshot series. Frank is a stilted government killing-machine who earned my sympathy in the first issue, and I now want to see him get revenge, and thanks to Lemire’s careful breadcrumb laying there’s still much to look forward to.
Bloodshot: Salvation #1 hits stands 9/20/17.