When Valiant relaunched their universe, I tried to get into Bloodshot by reading the first trade. Sadly, even after a second read-through, I just couldn’t get into the series. Thus, when Armor Hunters: Bloodshot was initially announced, I stated I had no interest in reading the title. But tastes change, my friends, and I decided to give this mini-series, featuring new writer Joe Harris and artist Trevor Harris, a chance. Was my initial skepticism justified or did this comic surprise me? Let’s load up for Armor Hunters: Bloodshot #1!
Bloodshot recently joined Unity, and now stands to defend M.E.R.O. HQ against the Armor Hunters. Juxtaposed with flashbacks of his recent exploits, we watch as Bloodshot works with Colonel Capshaw to resist the advances of the Armor Hunters’ hounds. Even with his nanite-infused body and excellent combat training, Bloodshot is in for the fight of his life!
On the surface, Bloodshot is a character representing a bygone era: the 1990s. He’s an over-the-top action hero who shoots first and asks questions never while quipping one-liners, all with a giant red, bleeding symbol painted on his chest. Yet, in the new Valiant Universe, numerous writers have worked to make him a compelling individual, using Bloodshot to question ideas of humanity and sacrifices that one must make for the greater good. In this aspect, Harris succeeds in writing a multifaceted character.
Hairsine is an artist I haven’t been too fond of, despite his work appearing in several Valiant titles over the past few years. I’ll be the first to admit I expected to dislike the art in this issue, but was pleasantly surprised that I came away with few complaints. Hairsine’s gritty style works well for both the ragged battle in the Colombian jungle and the high-tech halls of M.E.R.O.’s base. The battle scenes are high octane, but are a far cry from the muddled work of Hairsine’s earlier career. If I see more of this type of work from Hairsine, I’ll certainly raise him into the higher echelons of my preferred comic artists.
Alas, Armor Hunters: Bloodshot #1 does falter in a number of areas. While I did just praise Hairsine’s artwork, I must admit the faces of his characters still lack definition, and if it wasn’t for the work of colorist David Baron it may be difficult to distinguish certain characters from one another. One of the battle scenes at the issue’s end also featured an event which made little sense, and contradicts the effectiveness of an ability we see used a page later. While Harris does write some interesting flashbacks, they didn’t add much to the narrative, and broke up the main plot needlessly. Lastly, this issue didn’t add much to the overall crossover.
It remains to be seen how much the Armor Hunters: Bloodshot mini-series will add to “Armor Hunters.” As of this first issue, I’m not sold on the series; I admit, it’s better than I expected, and is still a solid stand-alone issue, but I’m not sure the majority of key events in this issue couldn’t have just been lumped into extra pages in Armor Hunters or Unity while raising the price of those issues to compensate. This series has potential given the cool ideas Harris is playing with and Hairsine’s improved artwork.
-great battle scenes
-creative usage of Bloodshot’s abilities
-flashback breaks up pacing
-little overall progress to the “Armor Hunters” crossover
-characters’ faces are too similar
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