Bloodshot: Setting the World on Fire updates Valiant’s cyborg soldier for a new era of comics storytelling with a surprisingly smart, thoroughly engaging action book. B+
I admit it, Bloodshot: Setting the World on Fire was the book I was looking least forward to reading. The cover, though strikingly designed by Arturo Lozzi (he, David Aja and Esad Ribic have done fantastic cover work for Valiant, and he also contributes interiors to this book) with a great use of color and an evocative image, just set my “Ugh, the 90s” alarm off. And while Bloodshot, a book about a seemingly invincible renegade soldier betrayed by his country, is very much a child of the 90s, it is (like the other Valiant books I’ve read) at least an uncommonly smart child. Bloodshot writer Duane Swiercyznski knows exactly what you expect from a book like this… and he knows how to use the tropes and imagery of such stories in fresh, sometimes even exciting ways.
Bloodshot: Setting the World on Fire follows the titular hero as he… well, he pretty definitively doesn’t set the world on fire, that’s for sure. In fact, it’s quite possible we’re seeing our hero at his lowest point in this volume, as he finds out the tragic secret behind his past and makes enemies of his creators, all without knowing precisely who they are or what he’s done for them. Bloodshot is a very passive character through much of this, and, refreshingly, what few choices he makes – rather than actions he’s forced into, which drive much of the plot – are more passive. Sure, he kills a lot of people, but that’s mostly when he’s forced to fight; when he has time to think and make his own decisions, he goes looking for people he remembers and tries, by and large, not to hold grudges. It’s a refreshing twist in a genre that rarely prizes introspection, and I’m glad Swiercyznski found time to work it into a story that is otherwise incredibly propulsive.