Just as I did for Shadowman #13 last month, today I’m going to be reviewing another new jump-on point for Valiant Comics, this time with Bloodshot and H.A.R.D. Corps #18 by writers Christos Gage and Joshua Dysart, artist Bart Sears, and additional “flashback art” by ChrisCross and Christopher Olazaba. Once again, I’m going in almost completely cold. This comic does boast what must be one of the most metal titles in the history of comics, though, so break out your favorite 80s Metallica album (definitely nothing from the 90s when they went soft, but 2008’s Death Magnetic is acceptable), and let’s find out: is it good?
Bloodshot and H.A.R.D. Corps #18 (Valiant Comics)
It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that Bloodshot and his related characters were products of the early 1990’s. Originally created by Don Perlin and Kevin Vanhook in 1992, this latest issue continues from the series’ 2012 revival by writer Duane Swierczynski and artists Manuel Garcia and Arturo Lozzi. Unfortunately, this issue is not quite as new-reader friendly as it claims. Unlike Shadowman #13, Bloodshot #18 does not feature an “All-New Creative Team.”
Okay, well, the artists are new (more on them later), but Gage and Dysart began their tenure on the title back in #14, so their efforts to welcome newcomers into their in-progress tale are more out of obligation than necessity. I didn’t feel completely lost, but I did find myself referring back to the recap page several times, even after a lengthy and predictably expository “debriefing” scene midway through. In some ways, such a seemingly shoehorned scene may actually be detrimental to a new reader’s understanding of the story. I learned so much more about the characters, and cared much more about what would happen to them, simply by watching them interact.
I’m glad that these scenes are there to keep new readers like me interested, because there are some solid ideas at play here. Bloodshot himself is a technologically enhanced “living weapon” of Project Rising Spirit, a company…or maybe a government agency? I couldn’t figure out what it was exactly that they do. Anyway, PRS used to be run by the evil Simon Oreck, who manipulated Bloodshot’s mind so that he may become a mere tool at Oreck’s disposal. Now that Oreck is, as the recap page puts it, “in the wind” (?), Bloodshot still works for PRS, this time run by the less-evil Morris Kozol. It’s a rather confusing situation, but at least Gage and Dysart use it to suggest a moral question that may be explored more in future issues.
I actually found many members of the H.A.R.D. Corps more interesting than Bloodshot, because I love the idea of disadvantaged people given a new lease on life thanks to superpowers, even if their codenames are remarkably condescending. “Flatline” has cystic fibrosis. “Vagabond” is a “homeless wino.” And “Genius” is a “developmentally disabled man whose brain implants boost his intellect to nerd levels.” Can anybody that’s been following this series tell me in the comments who came up with these nicknames? Whoever it was must be a real prick.
Bloodshot and H.A.R.D. Corps definitely seems to have a sense of humor about itself, and while the issue isn’t quite as metal as I thought it would be, there’s certainly no shortage of action, either. Bart Sears generally does a decent job setting a visual tone but there is little about his style that strikes me as particularly distinctive or memorable. ChrisCross and Victor Olazaba shine a bit more brightly during the flashback sequences with greater detail and smoother inks, but it’s still nothing to write home about.
- Some funny moments.
- Interesting concepts and characters.
- Not the jump-on point that new readers were promised.
- Forgettable art.
Is It Good?
Bloodshot and H.A.R.D. Corps #18 suffers from mediocre art and clumsy writing, but a sense of humor and some compelling ideas may still convince some readers to come back for more.