Of all the characters reinvigorated by Valiant’s return to comics, none have been more mired in mystery than anti-hero Bloodshot. His back story has been teased and hinted at numerous times since the book’s relaunch, but never has there been a true origin tale. Until now! Fresh off a popular crossover with Harbinger, Bloodshot #0 at long last delves deeper into the history of Project Rising Sun, allowing readers a peek behind the curtain. The result is intriguing, engaging, and obviously quite violent.
With so many questions to answer, I was concerned that Bloodshot #0 would be a cut and dry, point A to point B tale. Instead, writer Matt Kindt does a masterful job of dividing the narrative into episodic chunks that fit seamlessly together. To do so, Kindt tells the story from the point of view of a project scientist, brought in to assess how best to curtail Bloodshot’s moments of extremism. As the scientist, Rees, works to “fix” Bloodshot’s tendency to over follow orders, we follow him as he maps out Bloodshot’s history from the beginning of Project Rising Sun. This approach is essential to the pacing of the book, as it allows Kindt to bounce back and forth from past to present in an organic way.
So what do we learn? Without being too spoiler-y, quite a bit. This issue shows Bloodshot in many different eras, as the project works to fine tune their perfect soldier. It’s here that Kindt really shines, as he explores what went into creating the Bloodshot we’ve come to know. He really nails the man vs. monster dynamic here, creating new questions as he answers old ones. By issue’s end we’re left with a deeper understanding of the character, with enough ambiguity left over to allow for our own conclusions. In my opinion, it’s this deep level of introspection that proves the main draw, though the copious amounts of blood letting and action don’t hurt either.
This issue is violent, as heads explode like watermelons and limbs are lopped off with ease. Artist ChrisCross has a real fluidity to his work, adding a level of speed and danger to the book that firmly matches the tone Kindt sets forth. This is not a book for kids, obviously, but the violence manages to avoid being gratuitous, and instead serves as a stark reminder as to just what kind of character we’re rooting for. This issue really plays up the machine aspect of Bloodshot, as he follows orders with ruthless efficiency. Still, he’s not the only guy with a gun, and we see how violence from others plays into his creation. ChrisCross’s use of dynamic angles and extreme close ups lends the book a cinematic feel, making the carnage within that much more unsettling. It’s heavy stuff, but done right.
Bloodshot #0 is a solid origin story that doesn’t trip over itself in trying to break new ground. It’s smart, concise, and well plotted, both Kindt and ChrisCross turning in excellent work. For those currently reading Bloodshot it’s a great look behind the curtain, and for those new to the series it’s a perfect starting point.