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by Thegreatmagnet on July 05, 2017

Writer: Eliot Rahal
Artist: Khari Evans
Color Artist: Andrew Dalhouse
Publisher: Valiant Comics
I’m finding it very difficult to rate this issue. On the one hand, this is an extremely touching and emotional story, and it offers amazing characterizations for two characters that were heretofore almost completely unexplored. On the other hand, the issue creates some pretty glaring continuity issues that potentially undermine all of the good character work that it achieves. I think unavoidably a reader’s experience with this issue will depend on which writing element they value more.
Let’s start off with the positives. This issue has serious emotional heft, and it is a quantum leap forward for the main characters, Tank Man and Viet Man. These characters are both old model Bloodshots. Although they first appeared in Valiant titles a few years ago and were recently integrated into the current-day continuity, we’ve never really known much about the characters, aside from their basic characterizations: Tank Man an unflappingly patriotic Greatest Generation soldier, and Viet Man a vulgar and cynical Vietnam vet who feels used and betrayed by his government. This issue is a revelation for both characters, and we see the pain and loss that they’ve suffered at the hands of the Bloodshot program. Tank Man, perhaps the first prominent Jewish character in the Valiant Universe, knowingly surrendered the love of his life to protect their kind from the Nazi menace. Viet Man, the son of a preacher, defied his father’s wishes for him to dodge the draft, lest he be perceived as a coward, and he ultimately lost his humanity as a result of the Bloodshot transformation. Both characters have lost everyone and everything, and it appears that their shared experience may lead them to overcome their obvious personality conflicts and forge a meaningful bond. Even surrounded by wounded veterans at the end of the issue, it’s hard to imagine that anyone besides a Bloodshot could truly understand the toll of their experience. I’m thrilled with the new richness of these characters, and the unlikely friendship that is unfolding, in spite of their pronounced character conflicts.
As thrilled as I am with the rich and touching backstory offered in this issue, I have to acknowledge that it creates some problems in the continuity of the overall Bloodshot story. Three months ago in Bloodshot Reborn #0, we saw G.A.T.E. (essentially Valiant’s version of S.H.I.E.L.D.) release these characters on their own recognizance, with an acknowledgment that they would be contacted when they’re needed for future missions. We see Tank Man go off fishing, and Viet Man walking through a city with luggage. This issue fails to acknowledge this plot point at all, and it opens with our heroes on the reservation being informed by a brand new character that they’re getting a whole 24 hours of mandatory leave. In addition, this issue completely ignores a third member of Bloodshot Squad (Cold Man) who was also given leave in Bloodshot Reborn #0. More significantly, in the same issue, it’s revealed that these characters do not remember their own history at all, and their only hope of learning their identities depends on G.A.T.E. locating their old files. Meanwhile, in these issues, the characters not only seem to remember their pasts before becoming Bloodshot, but they seem to have genuine emotional connections. Even if they located their files and became acquainted with their own personal histories, it would be a leap for them to rekindle their emotional connections to their families in the absence of actual memories. At the risk of nit-picking, the clear disconnect between these two issues strike me as a failure in Editorial, especially given that Valiant is known for such tight continuity.
As far as the art, I was satisfied with what we got in this issue. Khari Evans has a very distinctive style, which is somewhat divisive amongst Valiant fans. This issue is thankfully light on “wonky faces” and use of Photoshop filters over reference photos, which tend to be the most common complaint. Andrew Dalhouse does a fine job with the colors, and I especially enjoy his work during the flashback sequences, which are visually distinct from the modern day scenes. This book is all about characters witBLOODh minimal action, and the art serves the story well.
Ultimately in judging this book, you have to consider your priorities. If you’re very concerned with hardcore Valiant continuity, the inconsistencies here might give you major pause. Although I find the continuity issues troubling, I’m so moved by the character developments that I choose to embrace the positives. On some level, I think that this issue might have functioned better as a more straightforward zero issue for these two characters, especially given that this story is so incredibly different from the original “Bloodshot’s Day Off” storyline from the 90s. I’m certainly curious how the Bloodshot Squad characters will be handled whenever we see them again in future storylines.

Our Score:


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