Ever since writer Jeff Lemire became a driving creative force for the character, he’s added layers to Bloodshot even as he’s also given him some engrossing adventures to showcase the character’s strengths. Bloodshot: Salvation #1 is another high point for the franchise, and if the ongoing series that follows this debut issue can keep up this level of quality, then the character’s renaissance will continue.
The issue uses a structure that finds the narrative alternating between two different storylines. In one, Bloodshot has built a new life for himself; a peaceful domestic existence free with his partner Magic and infant daughter Jessie, free from his violent past. But his new life is threatened as a sinister figure from the past may force him to return to his old ways. Meanwhile, the other storyline is set in the near future, and suggests a darker fate for the family.
Lemire clearly has an affinity for Bloodshot and what drives him. Make no mistake, to comic readers Bloodshot is an archetype, reminiscent of a multitude of tortured loners desperately trying to outrun their violent past and deny their nature. Though we know exactly where this story is going to go (I mean there’s no doubt Bloodshot is about to be lured back into his violent past), that doesn’t make the execution any less satisfying. Lemire knows how to give the character enough of an inner life to make him feel interesting and engaging, and the supporting characters are all similarly well-drawn. In the segments set in the future, the issue establishes enough jeopardy and shadowy shenanigans to pique your interest and give the issue the intrigue it needs to compel you back for more. There’s a grimness to the story that gives it a hard edge without feeling too “grim n’ gritty” but rather instead an appropriate tone given the nature of Bloodshot’s world. And even if we never really buy that this series is going to be about Bloodshot’s domestic bliss for a second, Lemire does at least make his dilemma relatable and interesting.
The art chores in Bloodshot: Salvation #1 are split between the two time periods by Lewis LaRose and Mico Suayan, and both artists deliver great work. The more bleak and gritty future-set scenes capture just the right kind of desperate tone, even as the painterly-style of the present-day segments give those moments the warmer, more emotional tone that works well. I like that both artists use similar layout structures in order to keep the transitions between their work feel more integrated, and the colors of Brian Reber maintain a sense of consistency throughout without smoothing over the distinctiveness of each artist.
All in all, Bloodshot: Salvation #1 is solid and exciting premiere issue for the series, and more than anything it ably demonstrates the confidence and deft handle Jeff Lemire has on the character. You can feel that this going to go somewhere interesting already, and fans of Bloodshot will find plenty to enjoy. 8.5/10
Bloodshot: Salvation #1 will be released September 20, 2017.