Publisher: Valiant Comics
Reviewed by: Jonny Botsch
For a few glorious years in the mid-nineties, comics sales were dominated by a small company called Valiant. They crushed Marvel and DC titles like X-Men and Batman with the novelty of simply telling compelling stories in a tightly knit universe that was occupied by characters who went against the grain of typical mainstream comic fare. None of their heroes wore capes or tights, very few were occupied with secret identities, and still the books were outstanding to readers. Today a new incarnation of that same company is back making comics and they're updating many of their best properties like X-O Manowar, Archer & Armstrong, and Shadowman. Among these titles is Bloodshot, the story of a man whose blood has been replaced with nanites that have the ability to repair him at super speed, change his appearance, give him faster reflexes, etc. In the nineties, his first issue had a classic Barry Windsor-Smith chromium cover. Flash forward to today and accompanying his modern day counterpart on the shelf, Valiant has collected the original eight issues of Bloodshot into a hardcover edition.
These eight issues fly by as Bloodshot cuts and shoots his way through dynamic fight scenes filled with deadly assassins and cameos by other Valiant mainstays like Ninjak and the Eternal Warrior. But what was most striking about this particular hardcover collection started off as a disappointment and ended being a nice surprise. In their first Valiant Masters collection, the first run of X-O Manowar was entirely revolted digitally, which is a real treat for older comic runs whose sharp black and white line art can be marred by archaic colouring techniques. Valiant specifically had often been the victim of criticism regarding their odd "water colour" looking art style choice. It was shocking that this Bloodshot collection had not been given that same treatment and instead relied on the original artwork (colours and all). More shocking still was how well it stood the test of time! Not only was a digital recolouring unnessesary, its flavour on the page became more nostalgic with each page turn. And not to leave their readers disappointed or feeling as though this volume wasn't given special attention, Blood of the Machine features a brand new, exclusive, 2012, in continuity story, The Tablet by the original writer and artists who came together again almost two decades later just to add that little extra touch, making this book a must own for any old school Valiant fan. Well done Valiant! Here's hoping we see more of these Valiant Masters hardcovers in the near future.