I’ll admit it, I really don’t know much of anything about Bloodshot or his backstory. And part of what makes Bloodshot U.S.A. #2 work so well is that I was able to get all the fun out of the issue and follow every plot point with only the issue’s recap page to work from. When you can anchor and effectively set up an entire line-wide crossover with just a recap page, and still have the story be thrilling and effective, that’s when you know you’ve got a winner. And so far, Bloodshot U.S.A. has been a lean and exciting thriller that more events could learn from.
Writer Jeff Lemire has constructed a plot that is simple enough that any reader, from long-time fan to neophyte, can follow along, get the context and enjoy the hell out of the issue. While I wouldn’t call this issue complicated or complex in any way, Lemire shows us how a second issue is done by having the main plot escalate only a small amount while characters and their relationships are given a chance to deepen and secondary plots are given room to expand. The result is an issue where there’s forward development even as the central conflict merely escalates without getting resolved or even changing that much. That may seem like faint praise, but it’s really hard to pull off, as evidenced by the tons of other events that are made up of explosive first issues, followed by thumb twiddling for three to four instalments, before one or maybe two issues of climax.
Doug Braithwaite‘s art continues to impress, with his grittier style fitting in perfectly with the apocalyptic nature of the story. This feels like an 80’s action movie, with its stylized violence, crossed with today’s PG-rated comic book movies. As a result, Braithwaite’s art ratchets up the tension and stakes while never quite losing the fun slam-bang action you want in a event book. He also manages to individualize each character, no small task given the fact most of the Bloodshot Squad look very similar in terms of design. The action throughout is top notch, with each set piece elevating the story and making sure things go from bad to worse, leading to an ending that will definitely bring you back for the third issue.
Bloodshot U.S.A. #2 builds upon its impressive previous issue, continuing to prove that Valiant is constructing some of the best super-stories around these days. 9/10