Publisher: Valiant Comics
Reviewed by: Joe Mossman
Nanotechnology is awesome, and it’s clear that science fiction writers in all mediums are starting to figure that out. And no wonder, as a concept it almost borders on magic, but with a solid bed of scientific credibility under it. Little molecule-sized machines, all working in tandem to complete big jobs. Everything from manufacturing to medicine to the tantalizing possibility of immortality - imagine having a million of the little dudes living in your body, repairing any injury, eradicating cancer cells and staving off the aging process indefinitely. The sky’s the limit.
The most compelling thing about Valiant’s Bloodshot, however, isn’t so much the plausible science behind his powers but rather the novel (and dramatic) way that the little miracle ‘bots in his bloodstream tie directly into his psychology and character. Captured by a shady government agency (as if there’s any other kind) called Project Rising Spirit, Bloodshot was infused with the self-replicating machines and turned into a “walking weapon of mass destruction.” To control him, the scientists constructed a series of artificial personal histories for him, a whole wallet’s worth of wives and kids, families and friends, each phony backstory tailored to motivate Bloodshot in some specific way. Every time his handlers send him on a mission, they key-in whatever story will result in the most effective soldier, to the point where he may not even know what he’s really doing; he could be killing innocent people while believing he’s mowing down terrorists.
It’s that kind of moral ambiguity that makes Bloodshot more original and somehow more sympathetic than your average superhero, as well as writer Duane Sweirczynski, who provides some A-class cinematic dialogue and plot, and has a good grasp of the source material in nanotech and some of its stranger and more dangerous possibilities. Google the “grey goo scenario” sometime for some light apocalyptic reading. It’s particularly interesting when Bloodshot breaks his programming…and finds that his own nanites seem to now be conscious and talking to him in the voices of the wives and kids he never really had. By issue #4 he’s on the run from the PRS goons, helped along the way by a tough Army nurse and Pulse, a teenaged girl who is a PRS captive/walking WMD like Bloodshot himself. The story at this point is set perfectly for Bloodshot’s revenge, but I doubt it will be a straightforward affair. There’s an unpredictability to the character, something almost impulsive and childlike.
The art is stunning. Manuel Garcia and Arturo Lozzi’s work sometimes borders on photographic, and becomes even more so in the “flashbacks” to Bloodshot’s false memories of families and kids who never existed, taking on an appropriately softer-edged, less threatening look (almost like something off a romance novel cover). You don’t often see subtle techniques like that in this kind of blood-drenched actioner. Yet another reason to check this title out.